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Life in Edmonton
By: Melissa Milakovic
The whisperings, whirlings, wonderings, and writings of a dreamer, a dancer, a drawer, and a darling.
I fell asleep thinking about how easily people get swallowed into their current obsessions or, better yet, swallowed into whatever world they most comfortably relate to. Now that I’m thinking about it, I should have started writing this last night when this idea was at its prime. I think there is a Seinfeld episode about this. I’ll do my best to recapture these thought bubbles.
In spending so much time alone lately I have come to realize that my loneliness is not one for people or for love but that it’s deeply rooted in seeking purpose. I came to Montreal to break some bad habits. To change the patterns I’ve been weaving into my life. It was a matter of finally taking responsibility for myself and my choices and pushing my own envelope to see where I could go. My original plan was to spend a year and some traveling from Argentina to Alberta. A wild trip indeed! It seemed like a good idea at the time because the work that I had was soon coming to an end, I had no intentions of going back to school, I didn’t want to stay in the city that I have been trying so hard to leave for most of my adult life and I was feeling the itch to travel in a bad way. Even as I write this I can see how my plan lacked any substance.
What would I do on this trip? Take pictures, write a journal, meet fellow travelers, learn about new cultures and traditions, collect amazing travel stories, move across the land, independently and freely and finally return to Alberta, which I admit is all so wonderful and amazing and makes me want to jump on a plane right now. But then what?’ I would be returning to nothing. Again. No home, work, money, certainly no furniture and definitely no stability. This is the thought that kept creeping into my excited mind as I researched all the places I wanted to visit. What would I do when I got home?
Of course, I would just start from square one again. Probably live with my parents until I could get a place of my own, go back to serving in a bar until I could find a job that I would be proud to have on my resume, I would struggle with reverse culture shock, wonder why the fuck I ever came home in the first place and start planning another trip. And this is what gets me every time – the vicious travel cycle.
Traveling is a beautiful thing. It is a freedom that not too many people in the world have or perhaps even want. It opens up your heart and mind in a way that no other thing can and exposes you to the world as it is, in its rawest form. Traveling is like the most perfect piece of symphonic music – it tears you open, fills you up with the most delicate sensations, makes your light shine brighter and reveals to you all the secrets of life and the universe. It’s gorgeous, perfect, raw and alive. I am so blessed and grateful to have had such rich experiences in places outside of home. And I know I will have so many more in the years to come. I will never stop traveling as I am a gypsy soul and my feet were created to walk this earth.
So I changed my plans, immensely. I decided that rather than continuing in this unhealthy, albeit, exciting and adventurous, pattern I would make an attempt at breaking it. I would start etching out some kind of future that I could be proud of. One that would insist that I plant roots, nurture them, water them, tend to them each day and once they were firmly in the ground, then I could think about flying again. This makes so much more sense to me now. I never thought I would see the day when I valued roots more than wings but, alas, with experience I have learned that roots are just as important as wings, if not more.
My addiction to traveling or moving didn’t exactly stem from only the sheer love of the adventure but perhaps more in the search for purpose. A search for a place to plant my roots. Always wanting to leave because I felt I didn’t have anything firmly established at home, so perhaps I would find whatever it was I was looking for out there, in the big, ol’ world. Of course when you head off to experience new places and people with nothing more than a backpack and a strong sense of curiosity in tow, you are on a constant high. Most days feel like your feet aren’t even touching the ground, a smile is cemented onto your sun kissed face and you could never imagine going home, wherever that might be. You are on permanent sensory overload, which clearly explains (to me) reverse culture shock. Well, not in definitive terms but in that feeling that every world traveler knows all too well. The one that slips right under your skin the moment your plane lands in your hometown. For the past X amount of months or years, you have been on an eternal high and now you are tossed back into this reality that you tried so hard to forget. The one you left behind so long ago. The next trip is being planned before you’ve even left customs.
I digress. I moved to Montreal to make shit happen for myself. Plain and simple. And some people might ask why I needed to move across the country to a city I’ve never been to before to a place where I had not a friend. Well, I don’t have an answer to that. I did it because I listened to my gut and it was screaming to go east. Straight to Montreal. And so here I am. Alone, broke and happy to be here. I came here to pursue my creativity as a means to earn a living. How you ask? Well, that’s the beauty of it. I have no idea but I only have myself to rely on. Just me. Little old me. If I want to live a life of purpose and meaning, by my own definition, I need to be putting all of my energy into being an artist. And if I want to be an artist, I have to make it happen for myself. And so I will.
Some days, the hard and lonely ones, I think that I should just sell everything and head South. Just like the original plan. Fuck the western world and all the head aches that come with it and jump on a plane to South America or any place far from here. I could be foot loose and fancy free, I would always be smiling, my senses would would be bursting with joy and I wouldn’t have a care in the world… except for that little problem of what to do when the fun stops. When the money runs out or the feet are tired.
I am committed to being here. Committed to myself. To love and respect myself enough to honor my creativity, talent and skills. To provide for myself in a way where I don’t feel I am sacrificing my time, energy or any part of my dreams. And when I have achieved this. When I can say that I am an artist, and not a starving one, then I will dust of my wings, give them a good ruffle and take off for a new adventure. Probably a short one as I would need to get back to my beautiful life, but one where I can regain some perspective, inhale inspiration, and reconnect with the land and its people.
Until then, my roots are my priority.
For now, fuck wings. I want roots.
Double rooted – in the prairies and a small corner of the Mediterranean. Planting new roots in the west. Left a handful of seeds in the soil that cradles the blood, sweat and tears of its people and strewed more seeds in the warm embrace of the Caribbean. I think, I ponder, I wander and I wonder. My tools are a pencil, a pen, a brush, and some paper. My imagination, like a wild bird, takes to the wind, moves with purpose and always knows where home is.
I’ve often thought I wanted to document my physical self at 30. Seems like a good year to record in history self-indulgent? Yep. But it’s my birthday and I’m 30 which I feel means that I can do whatever I want. And I started reading Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing which is illustrated with all his self-portraits. This is kind of the same thing.
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