Life between Adventures

I’ve been lucky enough to go on many adventures this summer. Cottaging, camping, MontrĂ©al, Tubing at the Elora Gorge… and a few more still to come1. I’ve also been lucky though to have had some mini-adventures right here in the city.

Like hanging out with SweetGIF at the CBC Music Festival.

It was one of the first of those hot, hot Toronto summer days but we kept our cool and showed those CBC festival goers just how exciting and fun SweetGIF can be.

Or hanging with some of the loveliest of my friends on my balcony, whether it be rainy and cold, scorching hot or just right2.

Red Sangria from Sangria Hangs Part 1
Jo in the background, with some White Sangria from Sangria Hangs Part 2
Forgot to take photos of the Sangria, but this was the spread at Sangria Hangs Part 3

I won’t be able to host one of these this month, but I’m so grateful I was able to host one every month for the last 3 months. I started hosting them because I needed to surround myself with wonderful people who I knew had my back, people I knew who loved me despite all my flaws, and maybe some of them even love me because of them. I am so grateful to have such wonderful people in my life.

Don’t you know… girls just want to have fun

And then there was this night out with the girls. We got dolled up. We ordered wine, orgasmic appetizers, drool-worthy meals and were treated to a large assortment of delectable desserts by the staff at Boehmer as we celebrated the last few weeks of our darling friend’s unmarried life.

He’ll always be my prom king

And then there was that night we went to Notable Prom. The event itself wasn’t spectacular but it certainly was fun getting out with one of my best friends, and reliving our prom night even if only by regaling stories we remembered.

Live music in the city: Alyson Menamara and her band rockin’ the house
Riding out to Etobicoke means I get to ride through, under and all around this beautiful bridge
And then there was the day we3 went skinny dipping at the Scarborough Bluffs – sorry, skinny dipping not pictured
Footnotes:
  1. Chicago and Cleveland being the next big one[]
  2. under a blanket fort[]
  3. not the same person as any of the above[]

Please take me back there

We left a wee bit later than I wanted to, but we were still on the highway by 9:30am. There were a total of seven of us who went up to the cottage this week; we took two cars up and arrived at the cottage about 30 minutes apart. It took me a full day to fully unwind this time around1, and even then I wasn’t fully myself.

First day, and the water was just right

I tried my best to be present with everyone, but the gnawing feeling in the back of my mind and heart were incessant. More and more it’s becoming extremely evident that the only option I have is the one option I really wish I didn’t want to have to take. But this isn’t about all that. This is about how lucky I felt to have been able to spend three and a half days with people who I don’t feel deserving to know so intimately. I can only hope that I never made anyone feel uncomfortable simply by going through what I’m going through. I swear, I tried my best.

It isn’t that I don’t think I am worthy in the sense that I am worthless, no, it is merely that I know how many amazing people there are in the world and I know how lucky I am that they chose me to include in their lives2.

This old firehall was a good landmark for my morning runs

There was a fascinating dynamic present, and it made for a great mix of deep connection and light-hearted fun. There was a lot of sexual innuendo, dad jokes and puns, mixed in with talk about Myers-Briggs test results and philosophical topics about love and connection. They are wonderful because they choose to live authentic lives, they open their hearts to everyone, careful not to let anyone in who doesn’t truly deserve it. I could really learn a lot from these people.

I love how much simpler life is at the cottage: waking up unassisted by alarms, going for a morning run breathing in nothing but fresh air, stretching with a gorgeous view of the lake, trees and wildlife in the distance, enjoying a morning coffee with the same view, swim-showering in the lake, sun-drying beside the same awesome people I mentioned above, lunching, going for boat rides, visiting the look-out tower, swimming in Oxtongue Ragged Falls, playing cards against humanity with some of the dirtiest3 minds, vicky-cures4, roaring fires, star gazing, and the best part of all – celebrating the birth of a woman who inspires me to be the best version of myself.

I spent quite a bit of time working on purging unnecessary items from my home this past weekend. Less time than I would have liked, but it still felt good. It has been a slow process – purging the unnecessary from my life – because I’m so sentimental, and because I have a hard time giving up things5. I just need to keep the end goal in mind, and all this time in-between, and the feeling that continues to gnaw at me will be something I will learn to harness so I can become the ultimate version of me6.

I digress.

The wiew from the look-out tower will take your breath away

I just want to send out a thank you to those I spent the week with at the cottage. You may not have known it at the time, but you helped this lost soul feel like she belongs even if only for a few days. I am forever grateful for your generosity.

Goofballs at the falls
The sunset on our last night was like a warm hug goodbye from Mother Nature herself
Footnotes:
  1. compared to the last time I went away – to go camping anyway[]
  2. I’m even more aware of how lucky I am because there is someone I chose to keep in my life right now who takes me for granted – and while I wish it was as easy to do as it is to say, I know I should cut them out…but like I said, easier said than done[]
  3. aka the best[]
  4. special manicures by the birthday girl herself[]
  5. and giving up on people[]
  6. not that I’m admitting to being an X-Men but I’m not saying I’m not[]

Running out of steam

One of my resolutions this year was to write once a week. The end of last year wasn’t going so well, and I wanted to head into this year with the kind of fierceness that this year deserved to be faced with. I am finding myself running out of steam and I figured I might as well write about it. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say anymore either. I have a lot to say, actually. Right now though, I feel like it doesn’t matter what I say nor do – nothing is going to change1.

Lounging on the lake at last year’s cottage trip
Photography by: Joanna Haughton

Luckily, I am going to get out of the city again this week. Someone very near, and dear to me is celebrating a birthday and we’re going to a cottage to celebrate. I’ve talked about it before, and I’ll say it again: I am so grateful that I get to go on these out-of-city trips during the week so that I don’t have to drive in a lot of traffic. I have no doubt I’ll feel right as rain when I get back, but I also have no doubt that the feeling will only last about a week or three until it all weighs be down all over again.

Work is extremely busy2. Dating in this city is disenchanting. There is always a pit in my stomach and while I manage to keep it at bay while I’m with my friends… it’s always there. All I can think about is going away but there are responsibilities – that are very important to me – keeping me here. I’m waiting on news about a volunteering opportunity that would determine if I get to leave for the winter. I don’t even have my fingers crossed for either outcome because no matter what I’d be a happy camper3.

I’m sure those who are close to me and are reading this are starting to worry about me: please don’t. I’m fine. I live a wonderfully full, and amazing life. I just really need to make a change, and I haven’t quite figured out how to make it. I have faith I’ll figure it out soon enough, or at the very least I’ll figure it out. I just need to give it that ever-so-precious commodity called, time. Something I imagine I’ll have plenty of while I’m up at the cottage.

Just breathe.

 

Footnotes:
  1. I guess that’s the problem with wanting something you just can’t have[]
  2. in the best of ways[]
  3. ish – I do actually really want to go away[]

Elora Gorge-ous

I had never heard of it before, but in late June a group of food-lovers got together to eat a delicious meal of ribs, mashed potatoes and coleslaw. We ate, drank and merrily conversed about all sorts of things. Eventually one person brought up that we should plan some day trips out of the city, and we quickly compared calendars and penciled in a bunch of dates.

And so in early July, I met up with four lads to go tubing at the Elora Gorge Conservation Area. I had no idea what to expect, but it involved water, sunshine and nature. How could it be anything but good? I didn’t bring a GoPro, nor did I bring the waterproof case for my phone so I wasn’t able to take pictures and even better? It was like going camping all over again: being disconnected. I was grateful for the opportunity to be offline for the day.

We got there just in time too; just before noon. The line-up was enormous. By the time we were renting our gear, they had to put a call out that there were only 20 tubes left1. We took the big yellow school bus shuttle bus up to the top of the hill, and carried our tubes the rest of the way to the launch pad. The website had warned us not to wear flip-flops, and I didn’t want to wear shoes so I went barefoot – a decision I would not make again. Rocks are sharp, and they get really hot in the sun. The more you know.

I didn’t think about it until it was too late, but I could have strapped my flipflops onto the life vest I was required to wear. We walked along the gravel roads two more times after the first time. Yes, the ride down the river is absolutely worth it.

The first time we went down, once we had gotten through the roughest water, we formed a 9-person-circle; a community whereby we kept each other safe, from bum surprises or drifting into the side and getting stuck. We speculated as to who we would sacrifice should we encounter more rough water. We managed to stay together for quite some time. The second and third times down, there were only five of us and we tried to recreate the community but it just wasn’t the same. So we would alternate between trios. I was also part of a trio… or a couple. I guess I didn’t like going down the river alone2.

We eventually got hungry, so we dried ourselves, changed and drove into town for some pizza and ice cream. The pizza was planned, the ice cream was purely my bad3 influence. After that, we drove over to the Quarry to go swimming and jump off cliffs. I had never jump off cliffs when I was a kid. They didn’t have such things in Dubai. If they did, I didn’t know about it and so I never got to go.

It was exhilarating. I’m not even a strong swimmer, but I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying the adrenaline rush and the satisfaction of knowing you said fuck you to your fears. I actually surprised myself; not only did I manage to jump 3 or 4 times but I swam every single time and only started to feel like I was too tired to swim on the 4th go around4.

As the sun continued to descend, it only began to get colder and colder… and soon there were only two of us playing in the water so we called it. The drive home was a little more mellow than the drive out, but the silences were satisfying.

I am so grateful I got to experience another mini-get-away in nature so soon after coming back from my 5 day camping adventure or I might have gone into withdrawals. There’s talk of doing another day trip with the same group in August and I honestly can’t wait to see what kind of trouble we get ourselves into next.

If you’ve never been to Elora Gorge, you really should consider taking a trip out. Remember though, go with no expectations and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.

Footnotes:
  1. and there were at least 30 people in line behind us[]
  2. I would have happily gone down alone but I often ended up with someone[]
  3. or good[]
  4. trust me, it’s an accomplishment[]