Backpacker to Bachelorette

So. It’s been a while since I’ve really written anything of substance on here. A long while. Does that mean I haven’t been doing anything of substance. Well, yes and no. Yes, because my life now is certainly not what it was a year ago; no, because my life now is definitely not what it was a year ago. I know, how profound of me.

Last year at this time, I was in England, enjoying my first vacation in over a year, and a week away from moving to my 4th Greek island. This year, I’m sitting at a yoga studio I volunteer at, waiting for the weekend to come – the fact that I even have weekends is still a novelty to me.

But let’s go back. Last summer, I worked on Naxos. The team was awesome, and I made some more amazing friends that I hope to see again one day. I came home to Canada in early September, and slept. And ate. And slept some more. And ate sushi, sushi and more sushi. I talked with my parents, I had tea with my friends, I hiked my favourite trails in
North Van. Then I started looking for a job. That was tough. Try to explain a 4 year absence from ‘normal’ working life – there are a lot of suspicious looks.

I got offered a few jobs at the local ski hills, and near the end of October got offered a job at the not-for-profit provincial medical association: score! Good thing too, I think we had about a metre of snow this past year, one of the mountains never even officially opened. My dream of being a ski bunny will have to wait until this winter.

The job is good. Really good. It has very decent pay, excellent benefits, and most importantly for me: really great people. I enjoy the work I do in finance, I always have. It’s not life-changing . . . but it’s not sitting around for 9 hours a day telling people you don’t have towels . . . but it’s not helping a family from France discover scuba diving for the first
time. Did I mention that I get weekends? I GET WEEKENDS. Every weekend. And when there’s a holiday? I’m not working, though I am still getting paid. That part is pretty magical.

So what have I been doing with all this time and money? Trying to figure out where I belong, I guess. I did a lot of diving in the fall. I was back living at home with good old Mom and Dad, and the availability of a car to haul my cold water dive gear around was very tantalizing and nice. It was great to be back in Vancouver’s Emerald Sea, with the
plumose anemones and the sea stars and giant ling cods.

My sister came home for Christmas and the family had our first holiday together since 2009. It was pretty great. Christmas morning we got drunk off prosecco mimosas and had to have a 2 hour afternoon nap while the turkey cooked. We ate in our stretchy pants and watched Scrooge and White Christmas and went to bed before 11pm. A pretty perfect day.

In January I moved into my very own apartment. Ok, I don’t own it, but I don’t share it with anybody. I haven’t lived in a space I could entirely call my own since 2008. That is 6 and a half years of living with my parents (whom I love dearly), my friends, strangers, and in strange places with strange beds. I haven’t put a nail in a wall in so long I almost forgot how to. Luckily my mirror hasn’t fallen down yet.

But yes, my place, my very own 425 square feet. It’s all mine. Everything in it is mine. It’s quite overwhelming, really, being responsible for so many . . . things. After 4 years of fitting everything into a giant backpack and a small carry on, to have an apartment full of stuff is weird, and strangely not as liberating as I thought it would be. I try not to think
about the fact that if (when?) I up and leave again, I will have to find a place to store all of these things. Those dishes, that vacuum cleaner, a chest of drawers I don’t have to share with anyone. They are just things, though. They don’t define me, and if I need or even want to leave them behind, I will. I don’t owe them anything, and I won’t feel bad if they don’t see the light of day for months or years and I do. Same with clothes. I now have a lot of them. Work clothes, workout clothes, nice clothes, day clothes, lounging clothes, clothes for different seasons. I own more than one pair of high heels. Crazy.

But enough about things. In February’ish, I started volunteering at a local yoga studio. In exchange for 4 hours of mopping floors, filling shampoo bottles and doing sweaty towel laundry, I get a free pass to a large range of yoga and fitness classes, and get to spend those 4 hours a week with new friends, talking about everything under the sun. It’s pretty great, and after all the chocolates I ate over the holidays, definitely needed.

My diving has taken a serious nosedive since the new year. I haven’t been in the water in two months. The last time I went diving was in Washington State with my cousin and cousin-in-law, near a site my Dad and his brothers used to dive when we were little. It was awesome coming out of the water to the crowd of my family wanting to know what we’d
seen. I now proudly display my little cousins’ interpretations of our dive on my wall at the office. Strangely enough, especially for something I used to do every single day, I don’t really miss it. Well, I do, I guess, but I don’t have time to miss it right now. I made some friends at work, and one of them convinced me to try a sprint triathlon. “I can run, and
bike”, I though to myself, “I had to swim in my divemaster course . . . sure, I’ll sign up”. Ohhhh that fateful decision! Running and biking and swimming are all well and good. Practicing those three things in a way that you can actually put them together and do them back to back in less than two hours is another thing entirely.

I’ve been running since February I guess. I ran the Sun Run in April and met my goal of 60 minutes. The following week I went out and ran another 10k, also in 60 minutes, and could still walk the next day. I bought a really amazing one piece bathing suit, with matching swim cap and goggles. My suit has swirls on it, speed swirls, I say. They make
me go faster. I spent over $1000 on a new bike and shoes that clip in to the new pedals on said new bike. I’ve really been enjoying the training, and have pretty much thrown myself into it. Last month I trained pretty much every day, often twice a day . . . maybe a bit much, but I’m loving it. The weather in Vancouver has been amazing, and it’s great to
hop on the bike for a ride, or go for a run in False Creek, or an early morning bike ride over the Burrard St Bridge and back, with a few hundred metre swim at the pool in the middle. I could talk about my tri training for ages . . . and one of these rest days I will, probably in a lot of detail that many will find boring. Suffice it to say that I’m addicted to it for
the moment, maybe it’s another phase, maybe not. We’ll see how I feel after I actually complete one of the things.

Other than that, life is good. I have friends, I do things, I live life. It’s not travelling the world, it’s not as exciting as it once was, but for me, it is somewhat exotic to be in one place again. To have my own place, my own space, to exist in a large city where everyone speaks my language, where life is easy.

Is this the life for me, though? I don’t know. I got braces via my benefits at work, and I still have the old railroad tracks for another 9-11 months before anything remotely keeping me in Vancouver is done. My work contract will be up in October, but they’ve said they’ll keep me around until next April . . . everything is still on a shortened timeline, and I like it that way. I didn’t get the Woods job, and I’m ok with that. Even in this ‘normal’ life, this corporate life, this life of things and possessions and steadiness, I always tell myself I’m never more than two weeks notice away from a change, should I decide I really need or want it. Still full of wanderlust, still planning the next adventure, still dreaming big . . .
one day I will decide what I want to do, but for now, I’m going to ride my bike.

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5 Responses to Backpacker to Bachelorette

  1. VroNika! says:

    Very well said! I haven’t been able to put into words the feelings I have now that it has been years (eep!) since I last backpacked and staying in my homeland. But I still have that wanderlust and glad for it. Your home sounds wonderful. Good luck with your triathalon. :)

    • Michelle says:

      Thank you! I’m glad I could help express what I’m sure many of us feel. I hope you get a chance to travel again soon, even if it’s just down the road to a new experience :)

  2. Harri says:

    Likewise Michelle, I’ve been here in Freo for 4 years now…although the wanderlust never leaves and I’ve had mini ‘breaks’ back to my old life roughly once a year! I keep having an internal battle about the big life vs small life conundrum…both have merit but which one is right for me? No idea! good luck with your first Tri! xxx

    • Michelle says:

      Thanks Harri! You’ve been a big inspiration to me ever since I met you, so it’s good to know that we can settle down a bit . . . As much as we are able, and still enjoy the big life!!

  3. Pingback: My Tri-riffic Summer | The Travelling Twin

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