0. Born, squall, learn to move my own body parts.
1. Learn to walk and talk and swim. Realize that the reflection in the sliding glass door is actually how other people see me.
2. Get toilet trained by a visiting aunt. Now, whenever I use the potty I say, “Auntie Helen happy?”
3. Learn to read, which means that I no longer have to pretend to read magazines which fooled no one anyway because I often held them upside down.
4. Attend pre-school. Learn that when someone asks you “how are you, today?” you aren’t actually supposed to respond honestly – just say “fine, thank you”. Learn through teacher’s example that guinea pigs should be fed foods fresh in vitamin C and not left out in the sun for prolonged periods of time.
5. Start kindergarten. When a family friend picks me up at school because my mother was in a car accident, I worry about the safety of my Popple who was in the back seat (said Popple turned up yesterday during a purge of Owl’s closet and I vetoed throwing it away). Come down with chicken pox that same night, because my mother’s day was clearly not difficult enough. Accidentally kill my goldfish, Fred and Frieda, when I fail to alert my mother that their cage is due to be cleaned.
6. Start as a “full day” instead of a “half day” student at my Montessori school. Develop a crush on a boy called Michael who has red hair and spits when he talks. Get a puppy.
7. Feel truly grown up now. Mourn the loss of the eighties, being woefully ignorant of how tacky the eighties were. Join the Brownies.
8. Get a pair of mice. Become very upset I discover that Sandy has disembowelled Marshmallow. Banish her to the spare bedroom. She dies a few days later. Spend summer riding my bike around the neighbourhood and pretending it is a horse.
9. Family moves to the Caribbean, to the island of Curacao. The move is very exciting, and I quickly make a good friend in my new school, although I miss my old friends very much.
10. Return to Canada for vacation – fail to meet up with some of my old friends, and those whom I do see have changed and we don’t know what to say to each other any more. My grandfather dies. I get a budgie named Noel. My new best friend in Curacao moves to Holland – am devastated.
11. Return to school very depressed due to loss of best friend. Agree to switch classes so another kid can be with THEIR friend – I figure I have nothing to lose. End up befriending an American girl and a British girl, although neither quite replace the lost friend in Holland. Develop crush on a boy in my class. My budgie dies.
12. American friend moves back to the United States, leaves me her parrot. British girl is now my only friend. We mostly talk about animals and our crushes. We go to the beach almost every Saturday.
13. My father retires and my family moves back to Nova Scotia. Before we leave I embark on a disastrous first and last date with Boy Crush. My new school in Nova Scotia is equally a disaster – the boys (particularly one whose Christian name is Tattoo) all make fun of me and one actually spits on me. I am very unhappy.
14. Have developed some tenuous friendships, which are fraught with passive aggressive note writing and talking behind each other’s backs. Oddly, these same friends will still be among my closest friends 10 years and counting down the road.
15. In a new class with boys who don’t bully me, and only a couple of girls continue to bully me. Eventually humiliate one bully through clever insults, thus winning the respect of the second bully. My dog dies of cancer, which sends me into deep grief.
16. Depressed due to death of my dog, but very much like my new school. A gay boy gets added to my group of friends. He is not allowed alone with me in my room, so when he comes over he sits in my living room and cuts pictures of Leonardo Di Caprio out of my YM magazines.
17. Move to an even newer high school, since our old one was full of asbestos. This one is high tech and shiny. I like it, too. I take Latin class and love it. My mother finally lets Gay Boy join sleepovers with my friends after my father argues “if he can handle 7 girls at once, I take my hat off to him.”
18. Gay boy begins to get involved in drugs, hangs out with us less often. Become friends with a guy who introduces me to the Arrogant Worms and Lorne Elliot. He recommends that I play D’n’D. My mother dissuades me because she thinks D’n’D is Bad News. I got on a trip to Europe with a friend of mine and some classmates. I graduate high school. I start university. I get a boyfriend.
19. I love university. I love the school, I love the town, I love my boyfriend. The boyfriend introduces me to D’n’D, which turns out to be nerdy, not nefarious. I get involved in the theatre, and bond with a fellow cast member by singing a Lorne Elliot song together.
20. Continue to love university. Find myself in another play with the Lorne Elliot-singing cast member from last year. We go out to drinks and end up standing under a streetlight, admiring the snow as it falls gently around us. We discover a mutual love of books and become good friends. Move out of residence and into an apartment with my boyfriend and his brother.
21. Cast member friend has become my best friend at school. We see each other regularly. EVERYONE at school knows that he is in love with me, but I ignore it as much as possible because I don’t want to lose his friendship. I also ignore the people who tell me that we are perfect for each other – including him, the one time we actually talk about it. Boyfriend graduates, and we begin a long distance relationship as he gets a B.Ed in Newfoundland. We fight a lot.
22. Best friend moves to Vancouver. Am heartbroken. Graduate university and move to Halifax with boyfriend. Get a job telemarketing. Miss university very much. Suffer depression. Only light in my life is my new Beloved Puppy. Ignore dreams in which my friend in Vancouver returns and gives me a giant bear hug. Am unreasonably delighted to see him briefly over Christmas.
23. Complete my first year of veterinary technology program. Get a job in a veterinary clinic. Boyfriend and I break up which is totally earth-shaking. I lose most of our mutual friends in the process, including his brother. See best friend again over Christmas, and we enter a strange, undefined zone which we dub a “friendlationship” in which we ARE NOT DATING, but romantic overtures from him are no longer taboo. He signs his emails “love”. I do not.
24. Go to visit best friend in Vancouver. He meets me at the airport with a dozen yellow roses, tinged with red, for friendship turning to love. He takes me to Anton’s. He shows me mountains. By the time I come home, I am in love. Perfect Best\Boy Friend tours a one-man play across the country and remains in Halifax with me at the other end. I get a kitten.
25. Perfect Boyfriend proposes to me at our university town under that streetlight where we once watched snowflakes together. I complete my final year of veterinary technology, graduate, and we both drive out to Vancouver in my Toyota Echo, with Beloved Dog and a wedding dress in the back seat of the car.
26. I get the job of my dreams. Perfect Boyfriend becomes Perfect Husband. My old friends from junior high and high school are my bridesmaids. My best friend who moved to Holland back in 1992 flies in especially to attend. Perfect Husband and I honeymoon in Paris and Tuscany. It’s a good year.
27. Get bullied a lot at work. Start to suffer depression. Attempt to get help, fail. PH eventually takes me to the emergency clinic and I am put on Wellbutrin, which stabilizes my mood. A few months later, I discover that I am pregnant.
28. I spend my Champagne birthday unable to drink Champagne (which is just as well). We carry the Olympic Flame. I am happy to be pregnant, but my job lays me off and I still struggle with depression. Some friends who we played D’n’D and board games with regularly every Sunday drop us like a (pregnant) hot potato. I attend a cognitive behavior therapy group for anxiety. We start playing D’n’D with some other friends. My son is born. My depression lifts.
29. I thoroughly enjoy my year off with my baby. Pug Mama from my therapy group gets in touch with me and we quickly become friends. The Farm Fairy has a baby, too, so now I have lots of friends with babies to hang out with. My mat leave ends. I find a job. I hate it. I get laid off. I start a dog training business.