Life feels like one giant slip and slide. No matter how much you try to cling to time, it passes you by. My life seems to have been divided into very distinctive chapters. It’s as if when something changes, it really changes. The chapters also seem to be getting shorter, and yet more intense. No subtle transitions for me.
Chapter One – let’s call it “Growing Up on The Snowy Prairies” – was the first eight years of my life. The second chapter was also long – from eight until 13. If that chapter had a title it would be something like “Crazy, Wild Child Of the Woods”. It was when I spent my time running barefoot through the forest by myself and climbing a hundred feet up trees.
Chapter Three was only a year long and it sucked. Like, it really sucked. A lot. It would have had the title of “Crazy Wild Child Gets Her Soul Ground Into The Dust”. Grade Nine. High School. I spent that year not talking and trying desperately to survive an environment that simply did not like me.
Chapter Four was the best of my life so far. It was two years long and would have been titled “Home”. Because that’s when I found where I belonged. That’s where I changed schools to go to an alternative program on a small island, where my classmates became first my friends, and then my family. I learned who I was. I grew in confidence. I was wild and free but I also had friends. Friends who were just as crazy as me. We did incredible things. We went on amazing adventures. We swam in the ocean in the rain and the dark of fall nights. We lit things on fire. We had water fights and played ridiculous pranks on each other. We presented to important members of the education field and blew them away. We were smart, and passionate, caring and crazy. We made a game of seeing if our English discussions could be so intense, thoughtful, and deep-minded that we could make whoever was visiting that day cry. We always succeeded at that.
Somehow, our passionate teacher took a bunch of students who were all, very clearly, broken, and made us into an intelligent, thoughtful, crazy, caring and supportive family. We were all so different. We were all, without a doubt, more than a little lost. But we came together to prove that the sum of a whole is greater than its parts.
Ending Chapter Four was hard. I don’t know if I’ll ever have a chapter as incredible as that one again, though I hope I will. That ending was the first time I started realizing that there are definite chapters in life. Things change and you can never go back. Change comes slowly sometimes, but in my life it often comes thick and fast and I don’t do much to dissuade it. Within two weeks of the end of Chapter Four I had embarked into Chapter Five, which was a huge responsibility and an adventure. It’s shaped me almost as much as Chapter Four, despite being just a year long. I guess I’d call it “Growing Up” or perhaps “The Year When Responsibility Came Calling”.
I’ve always been a bit mature for my age, but there is a definite difference between being mature for your age and being seventeen and living by yourself in a cabin in the woods working full time as assistant editor and producer of BC’s largest independent newspaper. Admittedly, there are only two employees at the paper, so this title isn’t as fancy as it sounds. But there was a large learning curve to be had in Chapter Five. I learned so much. I could spend hours telling you about everything I learned. Days probably. I guess you could easily say that I became an adult, against my will. I answer phones, my hands springing across keyboards, doing seventy things at once to keep the paper running. My job involves editing, accounting, photo managing, people management, public relations, layout, ad design, writing, proof reading, vacuuming the floor when it get’s dirty, and, well, a million things besides. I like being confident and in control, calling the shots.
There’s been plenty of incredible things this year. I took a month off and traveled Europe by myself. The job taught me a ridiculous amount, as I’ve already mentioned. But all of this came with the price of a little bit – a lot? – of my sanity. For instance, I’ve only had one or two real conversations in the last month. There seems to be no one living on this island my age, so I spend all of my time alone. I talk to myself. I wake up alone, go to work alone, work alone, come home and spend the evening alone, sleep alone… rinse, repeat. I’m going just a little bit crazy. It’s a very unusual life for a seventeen/now eighteen year old to lead. But then again, the unique, wonderful and bizarre chapters of my life have led me to being a very unusual eighteen year old.
And now I can feel Chapter Five slipping to a close. Everything is going to change radically again. Living in the city… college… contact with other human beings… not being alone… not being expect to take control and run a newspaper… everything is going to be different. But that’s the way life is. It changes. All the time. One giant slip and slide that we have no choice but to hurtle down.