The following is inspired partly by an article I recently stumbled upon, but mostly rather by a massive period of self-discovery and introspection I was forced to face over the last couple months. This article put into words what I simply couldn’t over the summer, when I adopted a version of myself that was so focused on appeasing others, I started to resent the parts of my personality that make up who I am. I’d like to think that this response is almost my reemergence into trying not to give a fuck about the constructed ideas people have of me, and instead, actually speaking my truth again.
Under the guise of the “chill girl”, I misplace the parts of me that want to scream and dance and speak truths. All of a sudden all eyes find me and every word that is uttered as I leave the room becomes an attack – at least in my mind. I am to walk with my head up high not because I feel true confidence but because it is a way to sew in another a piece of armour, a badge to show just how unbothered I wished to be towards the world around me.
But this mask was my demise.
The vulnerability that wanted to escape so badly banged and thrashed against the walls of my plastered on smile, authenticity slowly siphoned out and replaced by a rudimentary set of expectations dictating that I was not to reveal my disguise under any circumstances.
We say yes to the billboards on our foreheads that scream “This girl has it together, she’s everything you’ve ever wanted and she’s never been more nonchalant about it.”
We change our costumes from the baggy “I am infinitely unbothered” to the tight-fitting “I am the pinnacle of confidence” a few times a day, only to step out of our skin at night wondering why we feel so itchy.
“I never expected this from you, I always thought you were just a cool, chill girl”
Variations of this swing around my ears and I cringe knowing how many have put me on a shelf, smacked a sticker on my forehead and decided that this is what I’m worth. Every facet of my personality cowers in the corner and hangs their heads knowing that it will not be safe to come out.
I work to slowly revise the words written all over my skin. The words that have become tangled in messes pushing back in forth between the vulnerable and the safe.
I have been taught that safety only lies in hiding the real.
We are not on this earth to be your puzzles, your codices to unpack and solve. Why do you chase us and convince us that our worth only relies on our ability to keep you guessing? Why is it that so many of us stand convinced that our feelings are fundamentally undesirable, only to come out of the woodwork when given permission?
Death to the chill girl, I think to myself.
But how can something disappear when it doesn’t even exist in the first place?
May Long weekend series or days I wasn’t expecting to be extraordinary, but gave me some memories I won’t soon forget and relationships with people I find myself loving unconditionally after such a short period of time. I’ve been lucky enough to really feel like a kid again a few times over the last month, laughing so hard I feel like my lungs are on fire. This weekend may have been the spark that reignited that fire.
Stacy had been on the fence about coming down to Calgary for a bit but last minute decided to book a day off work, pack her friends Aksel and Alex into a van and drive into town for Elliot’s birthday. We kicked off the weekend driving over to surprise Elliot and through a mutual affinity for making Stacy the butt of the joke, an instantaneous friendship formed. In typical Noelle “I’m really not gonna drink too much tonight” style, I was a bit hesitant when I was thrown into a game of slap cup and ended up getting stuck with the very first janky king’s cup in the middle of the table. When Alex offered to share it with me, at that moment I had never been so relieved about the gesture. Stone cold sober is not the ideal state to throw back a king’s cup and from there I was certain I was surrounded by some seriously quality humans.
Two bottles of wine on Elliot’s balcony, multiple scenarios of “show me your new tattoo! Wanna see mine?”, one bathroom floor nap and endless conversations I don’t remember later, Stacy and I capped off the night by taking a ride home with an Uber driver that yelled at me for getting his own directions wrong. Fully not caring and falling asleep in the back seat, I somehow made my way back to my bed and was awoken to a motherfucker of a hangover and Stacy telling me all about how she forgot to pack pants.
The next day was brilliantly sunny and began with Phil and Sebastian’s coffee on the riverside patio of Charbar, as Stacy, Aksel, Alex, Elliot and I decided a tour of the city was in order.
And by ‘tour’ I mean a trip to several of Calgary’s patios for hangover food and Caesars.
Charbar gave us coffee, National gave us tatertots, and Alforno’s gave us delirious conversational slip-ups and the unfortunate coincidence of me stumbling upon my recently divorced cousin’s tinder date. Trying to remain unnoticed while hearing Aksel ask for an order of “bologna” in lieu of a Bellini or telling everyone I was taking a class called ‘Backpacking for Basics’ (The basics of backpacking) was unachievable.
I was dying from my blisters due to my Chucks not being able to support what I assume was 300,000 steps, so we cruised back to my house and spent the subsequent hours lolling around on the hill until the sun dipped down. It felt so good to be able to laugh hard like that again. I had realized that due to all the stress that came with moving and school, I couldn’t remember the last time I had one full day of laughter with humans that made it possible for me feel so at home within a matter of minutes.
Also we saw like, seven wiener dogs running right for us from the base of the hill which is a really great way to end a day in anyone’s books, I think.
We capped off the night by drinking another few bottles of wine around the bonfire in my backyard and drifting in to the type of ideologically charged conversations communications students tend to have after drinks. It made me smile so big when after a heavy conversation capped off with most of us discussing in about how we had all written some sort of paper on a related topic, Aksel (the only non-comms student in the vicinity) had stated that he genuinely wants to read the things we all write. His interest in the lives and thoughts of my friends really resonated with me – I was so lucky to be able to get to know a group of such authentically genuine humans.
When we decided to wander across the street to take in the view under the cover of darkness, I nearly rolled down the hill laughing when I had pointed out that outfitted with the pashmina from my couch and one massively oversized wineglass, Alex bared a stunning resemblance to Diane Keaton. If the King’s Cup hadn’t already cemented our friendship this moment did; we decided that in a romantic comedy about our lives I would probably be played by Richard Gere.
The next day we decided to take to the mountains and climb up a trail in the Bow Valley. After rolling up the trailhead blasting Courtney Barnett’s “Pedestrian at Best” (weekend trend) we started a trail that felt like a 90 degree angle for a good two and half hours. None of us had really entertained the thought of snow since it was approx. 27 Celsius at the base but low and behold, our trek up the mountain started to be tinged with white and allowed for many, many falls.
Poor Aksel was in a knee brace and shoes with the tread of alpine skis and he probably fell the most out of us all, but trooped through nonetheless. I was already sporting a solid patch of ice burn on my butt as most of us were wearing shorts when we fell into the thigh-deep postholes. Also not really taking into account the fact that snow is reflective of the sun, the post hike sunburns were real. After arriving to the first lake, which was completely frozen, we made the decision to push on up a ridge we had no business tackling as one misstep in the now waist deep snow would have likely been the end of us.
When we got down to the part of the trail I think I can speak for all of us when I say we were all feeling aged. Complaining about our knee and hip joints worse than a bunch of eighty-year olds, we were more than ready for the sweet release of bare feet that came with the parking lot. We cruised windows down, to the light of a perfect sunset, back to Elliot’s condo in Canmore where some of the group had a few shrooms waiting, although the only thought on my mind was how quickly I would be getting food in my belly.
Canmore on a Sunday night was so peacefully quiet, but holy hell trying to find any food whatsoever was a challenge my little hypoglycemic body was not up for. Worth noting that I walked into a bar and when I asked if they do take-out for the burger I was salivating over, their response was
“Normally we would probably do something like that for you but our weekend menu is generally meant to be plated so really the whole experience wouldn’t be what we intend and therefore we probably cant accommodate takeout.”
Listen up, I don’t see any Michelin stars on your door and I’m so hungry I’m about to eat you if I don’t get some real food here. FIGURE IT OUT.
I managed to order a pizza to the condo so that I didn’t have to risk having a 12-hour long stomachache that the Chinese food at the house would have surely given me and we came home to Rita, Stacy and Elliot shrooming on the couch. Watching Stacy get super emotional about how attractive all her friends are while Elliot just sat smiling at space while I downed my probably fourth or fifth bottle of wine in three days proved to be the welcome finale to an unexpected weekend.
Sitting on the roof under the stars or falling asleep cuddling with the crew, I felt so lucky to have a weekend that gave me instant friendships like these ones.
What I expected to be a mellow weekend in the city turned out to be the example of what I wanted the rest of my summer to look like.