In my therapy sessions, we focused on my feelings of dejection and worthlessness. I meditated regularly and went to t'ai chi class daily, arriving at the martial arts center near West Broadway and MacDonald at just before 6:00 am when it was still dark outside. I would be done by 11:00 am, I would go home for lunch and collapse into a heap on my futon. If there was a job posting to respond to, I would use my online fax software to send out my resume and cover letter; if not, I would listen to music to distract myself. I would meditate in front of the shrine that I had fashioned out of an old computer desk. I had long since stopped writing; I had not done much writing since being in Vancouver.
My creative outlet was now based around the personal growth work that I was doing around the Mastery of Self-Expression. Partly motivated by the social life it offered and also, by the opportunities for catharsis it provided, I got involved in assisting weekend workshops wherever I could. It was at the workshop during the last weekend of November that I assisted for the first time. The week leading up to it had been sunny and cool. I had been at a mini-conference on BC magazines earlier that day at the Alliance for the Arts offices downtown. When I got home, I felt psyched for the weekend ahead. And it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable weekends I would ever be involved with. By Sunday, the weather became colder and frostier. We set up a Christmas tree in the community hall. A number of people we knew were in a choir which came to perform and promote their holiday concert that evening. When I saw the concert, over a week later, I had so much fun that I decided that I would join them for the spring season.
The Mastery Christmas party took place in the same house that I had gone to for the Intro evening over the summer. At some point, during the party, I was asked to through a CD on the stereo to get a few people dancing. I then began to play some of the soul music CDs that I had in my backpack as well as some that belonged to the house. Soon, the living room was packed with dancing guests. By the end of the evening, the hosts thanked me. It was no problem, I told them, I had had fun. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they were making a mental note to have me back as a DJ the following year.
As December began, I began to prepare for the first holiday season that I would not be traveling back to Montreal. I looked around for anyone who I could spend Christmas day with. My former buddy from library school, her then-boyfriend, and a few other friends were going to be at her house that evening; I was invited. I felt a sense of relief that I would not be alone. Christmas dinner, at their apartment near Oakridge Mall, was a lot of fun with lots of laughter. The following day, they came to pick me up; we went to the house of one of the other guests (another library school graduate) for Boxing Day.
That holiday season, much like the one long ago when I was thirteen, was incubation time. I gave myself permission to stay at home, do nothing and listen to CBC and oldies radio. I ate a lot of comfort food and, from time to time, would try to envision a new year which would be luckier than the one coming to an end.
I went to a New Year's Eve party hosted by a male couple, one of whom was a member of the Shambhala Center. Their multi-floor condo right on False Creek was packed with guests. On one floor, they were dancing to Motown, on another they were eating hors d'oeuvres, and on another they engaged in deep, "spiritual" conversations. We rang in the new year in low-key kind of way. A few of us went up to the top floor balcony which looked out over False Creek. Fireworks were being set off near Science World, lighting up the night with brilliant colours. I felt the melancholy the now previous year melt away and experienced relief. I had made it.
January was basically a quiet month, although I had a good feeling about it. Things could only get better. I sent out a few more resumes around mid-month. I went to a couple of technical writing career seminars at SFU downtown and at the Italian Cultural Center. By the end of the month, there were still no leads, but I felt more optimistic; there would be something soon. I kept myself occupied. After feeling an incredible sense of isolation and loss after a Mastery support group session in December, the group had decided, to my delight, to have the groups at my place indefinitely; all agreed as I lived in a central area of town. I began to look forward to the meetings for that reason.
Meanwhile, Montreal, as well as southern Quebec, eastern Ontario and upstate New York and Vermont were paralyzed by the great ice storm of 1998. I called my relatives and found out that they were fine. Some parts of Montreal were functioning well, others, not at all. The storm and its after effects lasted a month. By early February, around the time of the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, the weather and Montreal had recovered.
Beginning with Lunar New Year that year, I felt a new confidence within myself and began working on my resumes once again. Completely out of the blue, a couple of weeks later, I got a call from a public library. They had received my resume a month earlier and wanted to know when I could come in for an interview. Valentine's Day, 1998 I went out the suburbs east of Vancouver to my first interview in weeks. It was a challenge to take public transit, coordinating three buses to get there, but I managed. I got to the library in the nick of time, a little out of breath. The interview went well, although not fantastic. After a couple of weeks, I had forgotten about it. That's when they called me back. The head of the reference department wanted to have me in to train me. On March 4, I went to work for the first time in months, all the while coming down with the flu coming down with a 100 degree temperature. I went home after work that afternoon and slept, sick, but happy that I had been hired. Already, things were looking up.
To be continued ...