Monday, January 4, 2010

Ten years have come and gone so fast, I might as well be dreaming

I'm not sure if those are the right words from that Oprah theme (how many years ago now?), but when I saw this idea over at Jayesel I thought it would be interesting to look back on the past ten years for myself.

2000: I finish teacher's college with a month-long internship I set up in Kingston, mainly so I can move in with my then-boyfriend (now husband) for the summer. I teach Writer's Craft for the month (using some of my creative writing training), then work as a tour guide for the Haunted Walk and as a coordinator for the Labour Day picnic. In September, I start my first teaching job in the infamous Jane-Finch corridor of Toronto. I work with an incredible department head who believes in my teaching ability even before I prove it to myself, and I discover that I really enjoy being an English teacher. Who knew?

2001: I continue teaching high school, and add a night course in composition at a local community college. The subject matter is boring (although it solidifies my own understanding of grammar and rhetoric) but I love working with older students who are responsible for their own learning (or not). My boyfriend is accepted into medical school-- in Albany, New York. We take a road trip out to Eastern Canada, which includes one full day of Anne of Green Gables craziness in PEI and several camp-outs, the last of which ends with me in tears and a quick retreat to a nearby motel. Yeah. I'm not much of a camper. My boyfriend moves to Albany a few days before the 9/11 attacks, and over the next few months is centred out for "random" car searches at the border and strangers calling him a terrorist. It makes for some interesting trips into the U.S. Around Christmas that year my boyfriend finally tells his mother that we are dating and serious. Our cultural/religious differences have kept us a secret from his family for years. Nothing comes of this revelation.

2002: More teaching. A lot of questions about the future of our relationship, now that it has been admitted to, but still not acknowledged. We officially get engaged in July, on a beach in eastern Ontario. I meet my future in-laws (who had wanted an arranged marriage for their son) for the first time as girlfriend/fiancee. While listening to my future father-in-law's concerns, focusing on how I'd fit in with the extended family, I may have agreed to sleep on the floor at big family gatherings, something I have not had to follow though on (thank god). We begin the process of planning a wedding that represents us: European and South Asian heritages, Muslim and Catholic religious backgrounds, food? service? clothes? how would we ever bring all of this together?

2003: So. The wedding. I will not convert, so agree to a "temporary" marriage available in Shia Islam (that's another post entirely) for 99 years. Our July wedding includes the signing of that contract, followed by a ceremony we have put together ourselves. Worried about the legality of the contract and the stress of bringing our families and friends together, we elope in May. We are legally married on the shore of Lake Ontario by a Unitarian minister, witnessed by my sister and my husband's best friend. We move to Albany in July and I am faced with some of the 9/11 fallout: I can get a NY state teaching certificate, but no visa to teach high school. Through a different visa, I am able to teach part-time at a community college in Schenectady. We adopt our first cat Pasha.

2004: Not a great year. I spend a lot of time alone, not working enough but not motivated to do anything else. I watch the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. I become very attached to my cat and believe she prevented me from falling into a real depression.

2005: This is my husband's last year of medical school and we make the decision to move back to Canada for his residency. Our first choice is Toronto and he gets into the program at St. Joe's hospital. We rent the first floor of a beautiful old house in my favourite Toronto neighbourhood: Roncesvalles/High Park. I had (thankfully) only taken a leave-of-absence from my teaching job, so I go back to work at the same high school. I become the new head of the English department, but must also run the two-teacher Family Studies department. My first challenge involves one teacher's use of the department washing machine to do her own laundry. The drama here definitely merits a post of its own. We adopt our second cat, Oliver, who fits into the family easily as the pesky little brother.

2006: My husband decides to work for a month in Zimbabwe as an elective for his residency. As we finish booking the trip, I realize that this is my opportunity to do something I have always planned: travel to Europe. I spend weeks planning for the 5-week trip, researching and booking B&B rooms and activities I don't want to miss. Rick Steves is my constant companion. I fly into London in early July for my adventure: London, York, Stratford, Bath, Paris, Rome (via Nice), Florence, Venice, then a quick jaunt through Munich and Frankfurt to meet my Dad in Amsterdam and visit some relatives in the Dutch countryside. It is amazing. Oh, and I find out I'm pregnant while I'm in Paris. I don't tell my husband until I'm back in Canada, when he demands to know whether I got my period as we are turning into the parking lot at the Lone Star.

2007: My daughter is born on March 24 after a long labour and delivery. As we are adjusting to our new role as parents, my husband finishes his residency and we decide to move to a smaller community that is in real need of family doctors. In the fall, Will stops sleeping through the night (for what turns out to be forever) but we develop our own daytime routines: music class, mommy & me movies, swimming, library story time . . . I find myself enjoying this motherhood thing more than I had anticipated.

2008: We buy a beautiful old house in the neighbourhood I fell in love with when we first visited the city. I decide not to look for a new teaching job and stay home with Will for another year instead. As someone who had declared that I would be disappointed with myself if I didn't go back to work, this is a real change for me. We leave Will with my parents for a few days while we travel to Vancouver for a wedding. We all survive. I start this blog, and am happy to be doing some writing again.

2009: Will turns two (!) and goes from speaking occasional words and phrases to complete sentences, which has become non-stop talking and singing in the past couple of months. I embrace my role as her primary caregiver and constant companion (I am still a "half-way through the night" co-sleeper), but reject the notion that I'm any kind of a housekeeper, to my husband's chagrin. My husband and I travel twice without the child, taking a trip to Savannah and Charleston I have always imagined, and another to visit friends in Philadelphia. We also take a road trip with Will in tow, and she has not stopped asking when we are going back to visit her friend in New York City. We are learning that old houses need a lot of upgrades, and that just because a child is closing in on three does not mean she goes to sleep easily or sleeps through the night. But she will sleep better at some point in this next decade, right? Right?

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