To Be Afraid

In January 1998, when I was 12 years old, Montreal was hit with a major ice storm. We were just about to go back to school after Christmas break when the storm swept through town, depositing up to 4 inches of ice on every surface and leaving massive destruction in its wake. It caused billions of dollars in damage across Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and the Northeastern United States, and many people and animals unfortunately died. It was, as you might say, a whole thing.

But, like I said, I was 12. I wasn’t an anxious kid yet; that came later. I didn’t know to be afraid of things yet. I didn’t know that the world grinding to a halt meant that something bad was happening. To me, an ice storm of this magnitude spelled out every kid’s two favourite words: school closures. Continue reading “To Be Afraid”

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

There were so many things I wanted to do before going on vacation — get a manicure, take out American cash, buy a tube of sunscreen that wasn’t expired — and then I came down with a cold, spent three straight days on the couch, and now I’m leaving without having done half the things on my list. Life will not end, the world will continue to turn, but the anxiety I get when I leave things unfinished is like a vice that squeezes every good thought out of my brain and replaces it with dread.

“This is not a good time for me to take a vacation.” That’s what I’ve been saying, for weeks, to anyone who will listen. “The timing is so bad! Is it even a vacation if I’m going to be stressed the whole time?” But vacation waits for no one. The last time I took any significant time off was eight months ago and it shows; I’ve spent the last few weeks staring blankly at my work emails like, you want me to what now? It’s time to go away for a while.

The timing is bad, of course. We’re short-handed at work and everything feels overwhelming. I have always struggled with this sort of indispensability complex, wherein I’ve convinced myself that my presence is required or everything will grind to a halt (I’m sure there’s a term for this, leave it in the comments if you know it), to the point where I feel guilty if I take an hour off in the middle of the day to go to physio to fix a tear in my knee. That feeling like I’m bound to my work means I probably come off as extremely productive, while inside I’m actually an extremely miserable person who scowls at crying babies on the train because I’m too tired to have any patience at all.

Regardless of whether or not the timing sucks, my vacation is happening: it’s today, it’s right now. I didn’t forget my passport, and everything else is expendable: the things that I didn’t do before I left will get done another time, or — more likely — they will turn out to be unimportant and I’ll have forgotten about them by the time I get back. Vacation, had to get away.