I’m met by the most inviting face I’ve ever seen. We’re at Calgary airport and as she drives up a sign reads “I missed your stupid face” I smile. I don’t know why it was so welcoming.
The First time I met Renée was the evening before driving across the country. We met at Tim Hortons, had coffee and got to know each other a little. It was around 7pm. We hardly noticed we chatted the night away and now its 3am and She had better head home. We decided to keep in touch and before She left I said to her “Give me a hug in case I never see you again!” Short and sweet, but it stuck with me. I would have never guessed she would offer to pick me up in Calgary. She is seriously Bad Ass.
So we made it, staying in my Grandfathers old house with Family. I’m still drunk at this point, I get us lost navigating to go home and after Dinner we’re headed right back out to go Dancing. Night 2 of non-stop binge drinking followed and a day of rest (basically drinking on the couch instead of the bar) tied up our Calgary adventure.
Her and I said our goodbyes and piled our gear into the trusty little Chevy Metro and away we went. We headed through Banff to catch some amazing views and fool around in the snow. Due to sheer boredom and being completely drained from the past months adventures I took the time to play around taking lots of pictures of anything I felt the need for as I’d been missing a real camera on my trip. We ended up being caught in a downpour. I took the wheel for the last of the 5 hour drive and brought us in.
Creston for the night, Drinking night 3. We stayed over with My Aunt and emptied her fridge of beer and cellar of wine. It was an absolute riot. Neither of us remember quite everything, except she stole my sleeping spot on the couch! We payed for it the next day (Seems to be a theme)
Grand forks. Home finally. It’s been a month at this point. I have covered over 10000km’s, met hundreds of people and seen thousands of places. I’ve changed since I was last here. I’m more at peace now than I have ever been. I’m happier than I have ever been and I feel like I accomplished something very meaningful for the first time in a lot of years. I can sleep easy and move forward. I haven’t felt this good in years.
I’m set on giving this German girl the absolute best Canadian adventure I can and I want to make the best of our time. We explored the area around Grand Forks, Greenwood, our property and more. From walks, to four wheeling, quadding, hiking, farm chores and being complete idiots fooling around. We were having so much fun.
I’m not sure what it was about this time we had together but it was just so amazing. Initially we intended on spending a few days together. Days turned into 3 weeks. Something was really special. Something was different here. We both started to see it. This grew from an amazing friendship into more. She came back to visit in between plans she had in Vancouver. We spent new years together and she came back one more time.
That last time was the best time I’ve had in my entire life. First off she came to visit early. I have never been so excited to see anyone. My heart was so full, my soul so happy and the smile on my face could never be taken away. I’m smiling right now as I write this. I asked her out. We had two amazing dates. The best dates of my entire life. Day one, Red mountain, skiing and snow boarding, Coffee in Rossland, Indian food and a movie in Castlegar. Absolutely perfect.
Date two, Well..This was something I never ever thought I’d do in my life. I can still see the smile on her face. I’m still smiling right now just thinking about it. A 4:30Am start led us to Big white. A few weeks prior I’d booked us to go Dog sledding. Renée came to Canada to work with Dogs on a sled team so I knew this was the icing on the cake. The team of Dogs was amazing, given a new lease on life being rescued and adopted from many different walks of life and now working their winters as a pulling team. I Let Renée take point and harness all the dogs as I stood around holding the harnesses like some weird and bearded walking coat rack. I didn’t mind in the slightest seeing her work. The familiarity of the work and the ease in which her hands prepared each dog was bliss. I was in the company of the most confident and amazing woman I’ve ever known.
She was to leave the next day. This was the last time I thought I’d ever spend an evening in her company. The sad reality of fighting depression for so many years is you always think the worst. I thought I wasn’t worth it, I couldn’t have left any impression on a woman like her. I thought it was the end. My entire life has been plagued with such negative thoughts and feelings for so long and only recently have I come around. I’m not faking a smile any more and I owe a lot of it to her.
She wrote me a letter. I’m not telling any of you what was in that letter, as it’s just for Her, and I. That’s a sacred bond and trust never broken.
I’m proud to say I was wrong. You’re more amazing than you know and no matter the doubts in your mind you are worth it, you are amazing and you can do anything.
Including calling Renée your Girlfriend.
This entry is an ode to Her.
In Fourteen days I fly to Germany. She’s picking me up at the Airport. All or Nothing.
I’d like to add a note down here, I touched on the topic of depression in this entry and I’m going to be honest. In my Family we have been ridden with a Serotonin deficiency for generations. Basically, this means that your feelings of self worth, fulfillment, happiness and motivation are severely impaired. So here we are, Mental health. It’s the reason behind this entire trip. For lack of a better word, after losing my Job and starting to travel I was Fucked Up.
I had to start over. No matter what I tried for the last ten years I’d been met with a brick wall of depression and nothing helped. Not a damn thing in the world. Exercise, Food, Money, Work, Friends, Activities, Sex, Violence, Self Abuse or Travel. Not a damn thing helped. The moment I’d walk in the front door after and amazing adventure and sit down, Boom. All gone. Nothing mattered. Nothing made me happy and I couldn’t handle it anymore. Travel was me last resort. After my initial short trip I realized something was seriously wrong. I couldn’t put on my fake face of happiness anymore. I fooled everyone around me that I was happy but that was so, so wrong. I’m lucky, I know I am. I know not everyone will be so lucky and I understand that. For me, I saw a Doctor. I have a prescription. I can live again. I’m free from the haunting darkness of my mind. I can wake up in the morning and I can keep on keeping on. It still takes work, a lot of fucking work. Every day isn’t easy but I can do it.
So I guess in a runaround way the message I’m trying to get across is that if any of you are going through this, if any of you are fighting this dark and looming cloud that never leaves I want you to know you’re worth finding help. You’re worth trying to help yourself. You’re worth asking for a helping hand when you’re down. Somebody will always help you stand back up. I know how hard it is to break the mold and admit it’s time. Ten years was enough for me. I nearly lost everything because of it. I nearly lost myself. Days on this trip I never wanted to come home, never wanted to wake up and never wanted to exist but I did it. I can do it and so can you.
Please find help if you need it.
Canadian Crisis Line: 1-888-353-2273
Alberta Mental Health Hotline: 1-877-303-2642
Of course, Your best option is always to reach out to a Family Member, Friend, Spouse, Doctor, Councillor or anyone. Even Me.
You’re worth it. Keep on Keeping on.