In Victoria fog is a pretty common occurrence. The weather in general is strange, when I was a kid I always remember people saying that if you didn’t like the weather in Victoria, you just had to wait five minutes. Which is true. But I feel like early morning fog is almost always a certainty. My dad walked me to the bus every morning. I hated school with a passion. I always felt like I just didn’t fit in. But I loved the walk to the bus with all my heart. One day as we were walking I began to run, and my dad yelled “you’re running too fast! don’t stick your arms out or you’re going to take off!”. Being five, of course I stuck my arms out. I’ll never forget the feeling of the cool mist on my arms. The fog was so thick that I could have been flying. Like I was just passing through a cloud on my way up to clear blue skies. The thing I remember most about that moment is knowing with complete certainty that my dad believed in me so much, that he truly thought I could fly. Of course he knew better, and was just making a five year old feel incredible for a short while. That’s the feeling I get with my Dad, like I can do pretty much anything.
When I was twelve I went to the National Ballet School. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared to go somewhere before. I went to a francophone school and had been with the same small close knit group of students since I was 6. The idea of meeting new people and starting over was terrifying. But more than that I was leaving my family. The most important group of people in the world to me. There’s a ten year difference between my brother Pat and I, eleven with James, thirteen with Amanda. So growing up sometimes it was like having five parents. Which I wouldn’t trade for the world. Having five people to love you unconditionally is a rare and beautiful gift. On the morning I left to catch my flight to Toronto I found a note from my brother Patrick. My brother has the most incredible gift for words, and this note was no different. It was simple, but beautiful. Eloquently put together. It just spoke of how the whole family was proud of me, and how he was proud of me. How the adventure I was taking was a great one, and a worthwhile one. He encouraged me, and supported me completely. The note lived in my pocket that whole flight, and I think I read it a hundred times. It was a little tear stained by the time I got to Toronto. I still have it in a box in my closet.
As I said earlier I wasn’t the hugest fan of school Okay I hated it! Completely and totally. I don’t know why I actually enjoyed the learning aspect of it. Come to think of it there was no aspect of school I didn’t like except for the school itself Something about the whole institution made me nervous. One day my sister Mandy had to bring me to school. She was the best babysitter ever, and we spent countless afternoons together. I’ve never felt nervous with my sister. I think that’s a power she has, even now I can sit with her and feel like the whole world just makes sense. So there I was ready to get on the bus and I simply said “no”. I just couldn’t do it All I wanted was to be back at home I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared of something as I was that bus My beautiful sister didn’t skip a beat. She pulled out a key from her pocket. She told me it was a magic key A key that would take all of my fears away, she put it in my hand and asked me “is it working?”. Sure enough I felt all the fear draining from my body. I took a deep breath, and with that key grasped firmly in my hand. I got on the bus.
On a clear summer night I looked up at the thousands of stars I could see, and felt like I had a fear for each one of them I was on the deck at my parents house on the phone with my brother James. I was a teenager and doubted every step I’d taken up to that point in my life. He calmed me, reassured me, and pointed me in the right direction. Another time it was while fishing at the dam near our house on Sixth street. Another time it was backstage before our first performance together as members of Ballet BC. The reality is that when I stared up at those stars my fears may not have matched their numbers, but I think throughout my life, my brother will help me at least that many times. There’s a certainty in his voice that can’t be duplicated. That’s how on a sunny morning in June when I looked into his sons eyes for the first time, I knew with complete certainty that he was going to be a great father.
It’s so early in the morning that the sun won’t be coming up for another hour at least. I drift in and out of sleep to the sound of the oldies station on the radio. The windows are frosty and the car is filled with the smell of coffee. I try and stay awake to keep my mom company, but I have to dance in a little while and want to be at my best, so I fall asleep. As tired as my mom is I can feel her nearly vibrating with excitement. She’s spent hundreds of hours driving me to rehearsals, and sewing costumes. This is the culmination of all of that. We’re driving to the first competition of the year, a couple hours north of Nanaimo. I’ve never been the best at performing earlier in the day, and I have a rough show. Well rough is putting it mildly I think I kind of fell apart on stage I’ve always been a pretty harsh critic of my own dancing, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it helps me to get better. But It still feels terrible to think that you didn’t do anywhere close to your best. Even though my mom spent so much time and money to get me to where I was at that point, and I didn’t achieve the way I felt I could, she still has a smile on her face and I know that she is genuinely proud of me. I suddenly don’t feel so bad about my show In fact there was some pretty good things We get lunch and figure out how I can be better next time. That smile doesn’t leave my moms face for a second. She has a beautiful smile.
Flying through a landscape of fog an encouraging note a magic key. a newborns eyes an unfading smile Those are just a couple of my favourite memories of the people I am most thankful for in the world.