The magic continues
A little over twelve years ago, I moved into a bachelor apartment in a part of Victoria called Cook Street Village. It was the first time I’d ever lived on my own and I loved it immediately, with the kind of intense, headstrong love you usually save for your first crushes. I had next to nothing when I moved in–a mattress on the floor, a desk, and one chair. I had just enough money left to pay for about 1.5 weeks’ worth of groceries and after I’d moved all of my furniture in and gotten things into some kind of haphazard shape, I went to the store and bought said food. There were blueberries on sale ($5 for a huge flat of them, ah, the good old days) and I almost bought them but decided not to just in case I’d gone over budget. I paid for the groceries and brought them all home.
As it turned out, I had five dollars left over from that initial buy, so after I’d put the groceries away I went back to the grocery store with my five-dollar bill in hand and that flat of blueberries swimming in my vision, and as I went into the store I stepped past the girl who’d been sitting outside on the steps, cardboard sign sitting crooked on her lap.
When I got inside I went and stood in front of the blueberries, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the girl outside, and about the fact that I had days’ worth of food waiting for me in my fridge. I almost bought the blueberries and then decided not to. Instead, I went back outside and gave that girl the five-dollar bill, the money that was, at that point in time, my last bit of money in the world. I had a job, I reasoned. I wouldn’t get paid for another two weeks but I had enough food to last me until then. I could always come back and get blueberries another time. It was no big deal.
I still remember her face, all these years later. Her eyes. That smile. I’ve never forgotten it.
When I got home, my phone rang, almost instantly. It was my mother, calling from Ontario.
“Surprise!” she said. “I have twenty dollars for you. Your aunt wanted to send it as a belated birthday present. I’ll put it in your account later today.”
And so, the next day, I went back to the store and got some of those blueberries after all.
I realize that this probably sounds like a ridiculous story, and for all kinds of reasons. Like, for example:
A) So what? You let go of a tiny bit of money and then, coincidentally, heard about a gift a very short time later. Not impossible. Not all that strange.
B) You shouldn’t give money to people on the street! They will just use it for drugs!
C) Five dollars. FIVE DOLLARS. Ohmygoodness, give that girl the Mother Theresa award, and right quick. SHE IS MAKING ALL OF THE SACRIFICES.
D) Something something sappy story that ignores the cold hard truths of the world, something something blah blah.
E) Who cares? Like, really. Who cares?
There are other reasons, I’m sure. Reasons a-plenty.
But I’ve been thinking about this story a lot over the last few days. Maybe the last few weeks. It hasn’t been sparked by anything in particular–if anything, I feel like it’s a story that’s been rolling through my head, growing growing, pushing roots through the soil, ever since the year started and I found myself faced with the magic of the world again.
I was a very different girl back then in those Victoria days–a great deal more naive, maybe, and sheltered, and pretty lucky when things came right down to it even though I’d also had some struggles from time to time. But I’ve never forgotten that feeling of giving that last bit of money away–that sense of well, I am okay for now, and things will work out, and maybe someone else needs this five dollars more than I do right at this moment in time. It felt right and yet also somehow unconscious, as though I was aware of that five dollars and yet had ceased to see it as being truly important in that stretch of minutes before I handed it over. It mattered, but it didn’t matter. Everything would be okay.
Perhaps it is naive, but part of what made last year so hard, I think, was the fact that I could no longer see the world in this kind of way. There was no magic, only drudgery. Everything mattered. Every cent that I made felt like it was only a tiny drop in an endless pool–and I made more money last year than I ever have. (It wasn’t a crazy amount, but for someone who’s been used to working part-time gigs and variations of slightly-more-than-minimum-wage jobs for the last fifteen years, it was a lot.) All I could see was that I was trying, and not getting anywhere. All I could see was that I wanted some things so badly and was working so hard and the evidence, time and time again, was that I wasn’t supposed to want these things, that I didn’t deserve them, that they weren’t for me. That I wanted too much and nothing would ever be enough. For so much of last year I was convinced that the optimism and faith that carried me through my twenties had only made me stupid–left me unprepared, given me unrealistic expectations about what I could have and do and be, left me with no coping mechanisms with which to face the world.
Idiots believe in God, I remember thinking at one point in the summer. Idiots who just happen to also get lucky. That’s all it is, and you were a fool to think otherwise.
And then, of course, I went to therapy, and things started getting a little better. The fall got better, the winter got better still, and the start of the new year saw me blinking my eyes in surprise at the clearness of the sky, the whiteness of the clouds, the realization that maybe the tiny little flowers that were popping out of the ground around me were, in fact, little bits of magic and not just hallucinations.
(Also, evidently, I found myself back in the land of Too Many Metaphors. Hallelujah.)
About a month ago I wrote that the year so far had felt like magic, and a month later, the feeling continues. I wrote that seven days before I ended my full-time gig and went back to part-time work, and within two weeks of writing that post I found another job–a wonderful, almost-too-good-to-be-true job working for an amazing organization whose mandate and aim just so happens to be about books, and words, something I can throw myself into, wholeheartedly. It’s the job that I’ve been looking for and waiting for ever since coming back to Canada in 2010.
Just before I got the call about this new job, I actually said, out loud, to myself, “You know what–if I just work part-time for the next few months, that will be okay. I’ll be okay. I have enough to see me through, I don’t need this full-time money right now, it will all be more than fine.”
Getting another job mattered, but it didn’t matter, not right then. I would be fine. I would be okay.
And then…this happened.
I miss being the person who saw magic in the world, who saw meaning everywhere, even in things that maybe didn’t have a larger meaning at all. Maybe getting that $20 on the back of giving that last $5 away really was just a coincidence. Maybe the act of saying (and honestly believing) I would be okay for a while without another job–and then getting another, DREAM job almost instantly after that–was just happy, happy happenstance. Maybe I’m just getting lucky after a stretch of time that wasn’t, for the most part, lucky at all.
But who cares? I woke up on January 1st determined to see magic in the world again, and magic is happening everywhere I look. Maybe it has something to do with my spiritual self. Maybe it actually doesn’t. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I feel like it has something to do with my spiritual self, that I feel like I can believe in things and trust that I will be okay, somehow.
What matters is that after so many months and years of looking outside of myself and seeing scarcity, I am looking outside of myself now and seeing abundance, everywhere.
It is an excellent feeling, and I am grateful all over again for it, even if it means another something something sappy story flung in the face of the cold hard truths of the world, blah blah.
Right now, it feels like enough, and that is good enough for me.