It’s been quite the decade, hasn’t it? It’s flabergasting, to be honest, when I think about how much has happened to me in that relatively short period of time and how much my life has changed. How much I have changed.
January 1, 2000, 1:00 p.m.:
I surived Y2K. I had only been out of bed for an hour, was eating a greasy breakfast (2 eggs, bacon, buttery toast, hashbrowns, coffee and an extra large glass of o.j.), nursing a hangover, and laughing with friends about the house party we’d attended the night before.
I was 20 years old. I attended university in a major Canadian city. I was in my second year of post-secondary education and 4 months into my new major: I had switched to biology after spending a successful but uninspiring year in a journalism program. I still didn’t know a beetle from my left earlobe.
I lived, and worked, on the second floor of a co-ed university residence – I was a “res fellow” (a don/proctor-type person), a.k.a. The Fun Police – it got me free food and lodging for the year. I spent my nights off with my buddies from first year; they rented a big house and let me keep a sleeping bag there so I could crash on the couch two nights a week. I spent a lot of time at a teeny tiny pub called The Mad Cow.
I was single and about 95% closeted. I had never, in my life, been on a real date. I had many secret, unrequited crushes.
I was working part-time at an artsy paint-your-own ceramics studio. My main mode of transportation was a blue second-hand mountain bike. It had a “bumper” sticker that read “ONE LESS CAR”. I was a vegetarian. I wore Doc Martins and died my hair electric blue. I pierced various body parts (sorry mom). I went to a rave. I voted NDP in my first election.
January 1, 2010, 1:00 p.m.:
I’m in my office, sipping white tea and nibbling on leftover Christmas baking. The woodstove is making the house smell deliciously smoky; the small mugsly dog is basking in its warmth. I’ve been tidying up my insect pinning supplies and have a few dozen specimens (including a spectacular Megarhyssa macrurus I’d completely forgotten about) waiting for me in a relaxing jar on the windowsill. The house it quiet except for the sound of snowflakes tapping on the skylights and the computer game my wife is playing in the next room.
I am 30 years old. It’s been almost 5 years since I was student. During that time I’ve been a lab assistant, a waitress (a job at which I greatly suck), a park naturalist, a museum worker, a federal policy hack, and a research funding administrator. I landed my first permanent job last July, but since made the important (crazy? bold? adventurous? brave? crazy?) decision to resign and return to school to pursue a PhD and a completely new career path, in a field that I love. It’s taken me 30 years, but I’ve finally decided to be a professor when I grow up.
I live in the country. It’s a small village of about 1,600 people; it has two banks, a gas station, a restaurant, a grocery store, and a LCBO. I’ve discovered that I really don’t need a lot of “extras” in my surroundings to be entertained and happy. I don’t live in “town”; rather, my home is nestled between hay and corn fields and a large wood lot. I’ve grown to love and appreciate my neighbours, who have a remarkably well-developed ability to somehow simultaneously mind their own business and know everything that’s going on. They never pry, but would magically appear with casseroles and offers to mow the lawn if I was ever in trouble. I live in a beautifully renovated 100-year-old schoolhouse; it is a source of great pride and satisfaction (and blisters and sore backs and headaches…but mainly pride).
I’ve been with my lovely (supportive, intelligent, strong, beautiful, wise, inspiring, kind) partner for over 8 years. We first met, briefly, at the ceramics studio, then months later, properly, at a vet clinic where I worked. One of my favourite dates was the night we brought folding camping chairs to an old field in the middle of winter, away from the glaring city lights, to watch a meteor shower. It was too cloudy to see any meteors, but the moonlight sparkling off the snow, hot chocolate spiked with Irish Cream, and mitten-clad hand-holding under the warmth of cozy blankets was just as good. On June 15, 2007, we stood in a garden with an officiant and a tabby cat as a witness, and declared our intention to spend the rest of our lives together. I’ve come out to my family, coworkers and friends, and doing so has only reinforced my belief that the vast majority of people are open-minded and good.
My blue hair (and blonde and red and black and shaved) is long gone …these days it’s my own reddish blonde “au naturel” and I actually kind of enjoy the ample flecks of grey I find in there. I go to a small butcher every Saturday to get fresh local meat for our meals; in the summer we often get our produce at farmers’ markets. I drive a Corolla; it has a Darwin Fish bumper sticker. I run for fitness. I dote on our three dogs and two cats. I have five incredible nephews. I voted Conservative in the last federal election.
The past decade has been a time of incredible learning and growth as well as grounding. I feel settled, safe and quite satisfied. Happy. Content. Secure with myself and with others, and with the knowledge that I’m loved. I’m thrilled to be entering this new year and new decade with a sense of excitement and great anticipation…I can only imagine what it has in store for me.
Happy New Year everyone…I hope it brings you joy.