So… Picture it: Halifax, 2009. A single girl walking around downtown alone, finding her way to a temp agency hoping for administration positions. Tests, interviews and then a chat ensues. A chat that makes her realize once again just how much rests on her shoulders. Alone. Three children. Limited family contact even when living at home. Friends she doesn’t want to burden, they have lives of their own. The interviewer makes it a point to tell her that she’s glad she’s not her because the burden is so great for someone still very young. What a thing to say to someone. On that token, a pity job. Government. Just call when she gets there and it’s hers.
Walking out of that building with new shoes clacking on the tile floors, feeling a little empowered in new dress clothes, passing business men who didn’t look at her as a tattooed little girl but as if she was someone they would be working with, one of their esteemed colleagues, lifted her spirits. But she knew the difference. She knew that if they saw her outside of this building wearing her sweaters, jeans, showing off her ink, her braids, her sarcastic and sometimes dark sense of humour with her three babies in tow from her tiny apartment, they would change their mind and turn away. She felt empowered but she didn’t feel real, the better term to describe her at this moment was out of body and splendidly surreal.
Oddly enough. This wasn’t bothering her, it wasn’t depressing her and it was very, very far from getting her down. She felt pride in her abilities to do a good job at any job she’d obtain. She felt good that she was a capable, loving mother regardless if she was single or not. She was content in her abilities to make the best decisions for her family at the time. Sure, they could be bad ones but at least she did what she felt was right and stayed true to that… for the most part. We all waiver and do things that make us put our face in our hands and shake our heads and she was not without her share of those weak moments.
Here she was feeling like she was in front of the whole world. A new girl in a big city looking for her place, her niche, that little carved out space she could call her own for herself and her little family. Three babies all waiting on the one person in the world they could count on to be there for them and she was standing all alone with the burdens that the interviewer had so kindly pointed out. These burdens gave her strength, they gave her hope, they made her smile and laugh and cry. These burdens were her reasons for pushing forward and fighting.
She smiled a coy little smile and walked tall out of that office building. Putting her best face forward and hailing a cab like she had been a city girl her whole life. She arrived at her friend’s apartment where she was staying and took a deep breath as she changed into her usual hoodie and jeans. The make-up that made her feel pretty yet fake was washed away and she stood in the mirror feeling refreshed and at home in her own skin. She grabbed her bags and ran for the cab to take her to catch her shuttle bus home.
Could it be called home anymore? Or was it more of a transitional dwelling? A little bit of both maybe. A home until a home could be found. A safety net until the safety was established and whole.
The shuttle waited for her as she ran from her taxi saying her goodbyes to the friendly driver who spoke to her so kindly. She tipped him well and jumped into the front seat of the waiting van, quietly buckling her belt and feeling oddly at ease. Somewhere Over the Rainbow was playing on the way up, a song that had become the beacon of her childhood happiness and reminder of her mother. This time she quietly sat as she heard the voices of Foster & Allen waft from the windows of a nearby apartment building. This was a group who was a favourite of her father’s and songs she had listened to on many many drives to this city in the back seat of his big blue station wagon. She closed her eyes and pictured his strong hands on the steering wheel while he hummed along to his favourites just as she had imagined her mother the night before, playing the piano in the basement of their house and singing to her while she sat and watched.
She missed them. Wanted nothing more in this moment than to run to them, to run home and ask for help with her decisions. At the same time she felt that being sandwiched in nostalgia for her childhood had helped her come closer to her decision. Would she take these songs as a sign of their love and approval? Of course. Even though she had lost their parental guidance, she had not lost the ability to see through coincidence.
The feeling of calm in her did not dissipate during her five hour journey to home. Having the feeling of everything going to be alright grew stronger. Somehow, the next steps were going to be the right steps and the fears and worries for her families’ future dissolved into sense of ease and peacefulness. The day turned to night on the drive and she closed her eyes until she could walk through her door and see her babies again …