It is hard to believe that on this day, exactly 10 years ago, I left home. Finishing my undergrad classes only a week prior, I bought a one way Greyhound ticket from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to New York City. It cost me $110. The trip took 77 hours and we made 79 stops. I had 2 bags, no cell phone and a $1000 on a credit card.
I was on my way to my first teaching job in Bronx, NY. A grade 4 class which, I didn’t know at the time, would be the most influential 2 years of my life as a teacher and a person. What is more unbelievable is that on the first leg of this adventure, I wrote a journal entry… and for you I write as me, 10 years ago today. Albeit dramatic and a slue of run-on sentences, an accurate and authentic snapshot of one 23 years young, Shelley Moore, and her first step into the big world.
July 20, 2003
Stop #23, Jansen Jct. Saskatchewan, 7:30 am
You know when you lose something-or someone, and feel gutrot and pressure in your chest. You’re short of breathe and you cry … not with tears, but with a tear?
I read a book once which explained the differences between tears. Angry tears come from the outside of your eyes, very slowly filling up usually because you don’t want to be crying and so you hold back with all of your might to avoid any sign of weakness?!
And then there are the tears you get when you fall off your bike, or down a hill while rollerblading. And first you get up really fast and see who noticed, and once over the initial shock, your eyes fill up with water and over flow in giant crocodile tears. The only solution to this scenario is getting someone you love to rub your back and cover you with the necessary bandages because we all know the “mom rule,” wounds heal faster when someone else puts on the bandaid.
Then there are the tears I felt 8 hours ago. These tears can last for hours, days, years. They can end and begin again by hearing a song, smelling a scent, tasting, touching and feeling something familiar… all reminding you of what is now gone. These tears come out one at a time, eyes alternating, making streams down your cheek, your neck and all the way to your heart.
Behavioural characteristics include crinkling of eyebrows, sighing and breathing so deep you can feel it in your toes and you get that feeling in your nose you know, like right before you sneeze.
This can happen by the death of a loved one, getting dumped, saying goodbye to a friend, losing your pet, a special ring or even hope. Or it can happen when you walk through the doors of a greyhound bus station, looking back at people who love you so much, and knowing that you wont be back.
Although in varying degrees, this kind of tear is the by product of one and only one thing…. LOSS.
My problem, however, was that my loss was self inflicted. Am I crazy?! Who walks away from a best friend, and a pseudo korean mom waving at me from the door. Who voluntarily leaves a community of friends, teachers, family, friends, coaches, mentors and teammates that I was embraced by for 23 years, to head to a new city…a big city, a city who I know not a single person? Who walks away knowing that there will never again be a time that I can call any one of these people at a moments notice, see them 5 minutes later, drink a Slurpee, watch a thunderstorm, a movie, a hockey game or just get a big hug.
Last night, at 1215 am on July 20, 3 days before my 23 birthday, I grew up. I have been waiting for this day my whole life. I always knew I would leave. I’m way to adventurous to live where I have always lived, and do what I have always done. I even had my song planned that I would listen to as I drove out of my hometown for the last time. John Mayer, 3×5. But last night it wasn’t that easy.
Earlier that evening my friend Jill gave me a CD. It was called, “songs that remind me of my best friend Shelbert.” As much as I had planned my whole dramatic departure complete with theme song and everything, I was somehow comforted more by the fact that I was listening to music made just for me by someone so important.
Now some would think that this music situation would not be a big deal, but I will tell you why it’s significant. For everyday that I can remember, going to school, work, field hockey games, riding the city bus, school bus or train, I would listen to my music and watch out the window. Somehow while listening and watching, the world would come to life, like a movie. Like you know when you watch a slideshow, it is always much more meaningful when it is accompanied by “Time of your Life” by Greenday. Pictures came alive and watching out the windows as I grew up, all that life that I would see, suddenly had meaning. Graffiti on the wall, picnics in the park, a shoeless kid taking double steps to keep up with his little sister in the stroller, or even just taking a second to look at the world at that time of day right before disk, where everything seems to glow.
As I travelled all those years, I would always think to myself, “I wonder what I will see out these windows on the day I leave. What will come to life as I look out the window leaving the place that that always been home.”
So last night I did it. I left home. Listening not to my planned theme song, but instead as I drove through my city at midnight, I listened to songs put together by my best friend. Reminding me of good times, sad times but mostly times where I felt so loved.
I watched the CN tower spell out it’s letters to Sara and Tegan. I passed the store in Chinatown where I would buy mango bubble tea and pocky sticks while humming to Jann Arden. I passed playgrounds I played at, 7-11s I got Slurpees at, restaurants I had eaten at, and then, as I entered the Yellowhead Trail exit on 97 st heading east, right before I left the last city light, I realized what I had just lost. As I drove onto the highway, while cramped behind two women on their way to Ottawa, my best friend (who now gets the prize for knowing me best) played for me my song. As John Mayer played 3×5, no one else existed on that stinky bus. I listened to my song, and I watched out the window at the fading city lights, and cried my tears one at a time.