The Last Quarter-Century According to Me

Me.  I'm the authority on this that matters most.  My perspective is pivotal to understanding what I'm about.  So today on MY birthday I give you a gift.  A history lesson.

Aren't you lucky.

25 years ago a married couple moved into a small mobile home a few miles outside a small city in northeastern British Columbia.  Both were the oldest from their particular baby-boom families, the husband from Saskatchewan, the wife from Australia.  Both had farming upbringings, and were fairly traditional in their goals, the husband worked in a hardware store and the wife was expecting any day now. 

A few weeks after moving in their first child was born, a baby boy.  A very special boy, for he is the subject of our little story.

Our boy had much to say and do.  For a toddler he was very articulate, despite his first word being "shit" which he chanted merrily after his mother was cut off going to pick up his father from work.  His articulate speech allowed him at the age of 2 or 3 to not fumble over words that would tongue tie many adults, but his favorite thing to say by-far was: "What's that?"  Which his father was only too happy to respond to.

Our boy had few friends in his early years but he did have some.  They were mostly the other children of friends of his parents and his cousins.  All lived in town, so he relied upon his parents to take him places if he wanted to go play with them.  When he was 3 he was given a sister to play with.  She was cute, annoying, and had black hair.  And when he was 8 a little brother came along, he was even more annoying than the sister, but didn't have black hair.

All three of these children were made to go to a small Catholic school called Notre Dame.  It was a prison of a school, where nun's taught the students and families were supposed to sit through Church on Sundays.  The two boys had a difficult time sitting through church.  In their opinion Sunday mornings would be much better served enjoying God's creation by exploring it but such thoughts were obviously misguided, so each Sunday they endured the difficult task of listening to old priests tell grown-up stories about people that had died a long time ago.

Outside of school our special boy had a few other activities forced upon him.  There was an electric piano brought to his house that he had to play for half an hour each morning.  Our boy publicly reviled this indignity and interruption to the best part of his sleep.  But secretly he enjoyed being the first person up and would make himself a cup of over-sugar'd tea which he would wrap his fingers around to warm them so that they would work properly on the piano keys.  Then he would turn the volume up on the piano just-a-little louder than it needed to be so he would wake everyone else up.

The other activity that dominated the boy's life was swimming.  His hometown had no oceans or significant lakes nearby to swim in, but it had a swimming pool which offered a swim-club in the spring and summer.  Our boy complained about this much less for it involved seeing girls in swimsuits, which for some reason seemed as good a reason as any to show up.  And so in the crisp mornings before 6 he would ride his bike down to the swimming pool at speeds that motorists would be fined for attaining.  He would swim like a fish for 3 hours, and then cross the road to his school, (springtime) or make the ride up the hill to his parent's house. (summer)

The boy's Catholic school upbringing ended after Grade 7, and so he went on to what was referred to as a "Middle" school.  This was 2 years of mild torture for the boy, but was made bearable by quirky teachers, discovering the joys of girlfriends and a new best friend who always seemed to have a cute girl on his arm.  His friend always seemed to be having trouble with 2 or 3 ex's as well and this drama provided much interest to our protagonist, and more than a little jelousy at times too.

In high school the boy's biology betrayed him, and as his fingers quit growing his piano progression slowed until each song took months and months to master despite his dayly practice sessions.  He decided to take a more contemporary approach, but with a growing social life he eventually gave up formal lessons, and his practicing diminished.  In Grade 10 he discovered despite his minimal popularity due to the fact that he didn't really have a clique to belong to, no one wanted to fight him because he was stronger than even the jocks in the class.  He was able to publicly bench-press over 200lbs repeatedly.  (A feat that as an adult this individual can no longer reproduce.)

The summer after grade 10 the boy went on a trip to visit his mother's family in Australia.  He had gone once before with his family when he was younger, but he remembered little of that and this time he went alone.  He discovered that people on planes are fond of talking about wines, that stewardesses over International waters will let minor's drink whatever they want, and that Austrailians are wierd. 

To him Aussies were a bunch of backwater, roadkill eating, hicks that had this impossible obsession with table manners.  They were racist in the most creative ways imaginable and delighted in their own unique racial slurs, and they didn't have any idea how to make a straight road.  Supposidly that's what you get from a country that was formed from a penal colony.  "My ancestors were the guards"… indeed.

Returning home from down under greeted our protagonist with the cold reality that two of his very best friends had moved out of town while he was gone, and he had no opportunity to wish them goodbye.  He returned to school in Grade 11 and began the chapter of his schooling that was extremely media oriented.  He learned to shoot video, edit video, work photoshop and developed the computer skills that serve him well to this day.  It was also at this time that he cemented the belief that he would someday become a writer.  He aquired his first significant job which was at a Pizza place, and began to develop the first feelings of true independance. 

In Grade 12 our boy had his first sexual relationship.  Which was everything he could have ever wanted.  The girl herself was a shrew, and it took leaving her for him to actually realise why so many of the people he knew didn't like her.  But in the end it was a good thing, for it gave him an understanding of what a relationship shouldn't be.  He dated her throughout the entire grade and somewhat into the summer.  During Grade 12 according to the school yearbook the boy was basically invisible.  He missed his school pictures, missed the assemblies that talked about the upcoming Graduation events, and missed the opportunities to purchase the memoribalia such as class rings.  He spent the lion's share of his time on the secondary media campus learning to make film and audio.  It's a miracle he even made it to the prom. 

Y2K wasn't the big deal everyone thought it would be, and being the first graduating class of the millenium certainly didn't seem to be as fun as he pictured it.  He finished school maintaining his customary good grades, and that summer he moved out of his parents house and dumped his girlfriend. 

The boy rented a room in a friend's house. She worked nights as a Janitor, and he worked the late shift at the Pizza place, and on weekends groups of friends would come over to watch movies.  It was a good fit.  This was the grace peried between being a child in school and understanding the harsh realities of adulthood.  It was over quick.  He found a new girlfriend and got offered a job working for the roofing company his dad worked at for.  He quit his old jobs at the pizza place and a video store.  This was a very bad decision.  The boy was not a roofer, and the foremen did not find him adequate to the task.  He had given up his cozy life for something that fell through, and it signaled the start of the worst year of his life.

Work was scarce that year.  His new girlfriend had a job, and they managed to get into another apartment, but try as he might he could not get work.  He tried everything but just couldn't get hired.  Life was very hard, and slowly he came to the realisation that he was becoming a bum.  The year ended with him getting a new job at a cattle auction house.  

The job wasn't much, to start it only amounted to one or two days a week, but it was something.  It consisted of running newly bought cows to pens for their buyers, and then afterwards he got to shovel up cowshit.  It was the most fun job he ever had.  He found out that Cows would actually try to KILL him which was great for an adrenaline rush.  He was hardly making any money at all, but he started climbing the ladder and getting more and more days to work.  And in the summer and fall the place got busy.  He worked at this for almost 2 years, and just as he was seeing the potential to get the hours that he needed to make real money.  Mad Cow Disease cropped up in Canada, and the cattle market was locked down and fell through the floor, and once again he had no work.

Long before he had started his cattle job our protagonist had the bright idea that he could get his industrial first aid qualifications and work medical standby while he wrote stories.  The first 3 years he had this qualification he got no work.  Then 6 months after his cattle job ended he got a call and started working at something that he continues at to this day.  He began sitting on industrial sites as a medic.  Work was sporadic at first, but the Oilfield was picking up in the area and he started getting more and more.  He took jobs from a few different companies to keep the money coming in and life got better. 

These days our boy is a bit less fit than he once was.  But he has a degree of success and direction.  He sits on a drilling rig and looks back on his life and acnowledges that he has no real regrets.  He's a quarter of a century old today, and in an attempt to summarise his experiences thus far I will finish with this:

Going through life with the intent of coming out of it smelling like a rose might be admirable, but it certanly isn't fun or memorable.  The best parts of my life have been when I was in shit.  They were the most memorable, leave me with the most entertaining stories, and have given me experience to help me through life.  They say we learn from our mistakes and it's true.  Though sometimes getting a little shit on you isn't such a mistake. 

 

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About Helmsman

Importing a Vox Blog.
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One Response to The Last Quarter-Century According to Me

  1. jp says:

    A belated Happy Birthday and that's quite the story.
    Have a great year. Oh, I liked the rig photos, too.

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