In six days, I will get on the ferry to Prince Rupert. From there, I will drive to Vancouver where I will move into an apartment and attend Simon Fraser University in Burnaby. I will get on the train every morning and spend an hour pushed against people I don’t know well enough, then ride a bus while attempting to perfect a look of contented disinterest to discourage free conversation. I will go to my classes and probably hate a good portion of them, and adore the other half. I will walk to the cafeteria for lunch with Sufjan Stevens playing from my headphones, completely convinced that everything in my life will go exactly as planned. I will meet my first college boyfriend who has a name so ordinary that it will be in danger of being forgotten many years later.
I will graduate with a degree in English that might not have been worth the money or time, and then attempt writing a script. This will be written in the free time I have between shifts at a coffee shop, or a Best Buy where my customer-service smile comes in handy. The script will be half-finished when I realize I hate the idea. I won’t scrap it, but abandon it in my computer hard drive and won’t see it again for another three years. My brother will eventually move out of our shared apartment, tired of my antics but seeking his own independence, too. I will wallow for a few days, huffing over unwashed dishes and a cluttered house, but I’ll get over it.
A year after sweating over a laptop screen and wishing I was back in university, I still won’t have a script to show for it. My ordinarily-named boyfriend and I find differences and attempt an amicable break-up, which is code for, “I won’t attempt to contact you again if you don’t.”
Now that three years have passed, I am listening to The Vaccines again when I find my old script sitting in a dusty hard drive. I read it over again, and suddenly, the idea is the best I’ve ever had. I can’t imagine why I orphaned it in the first place. Until I look at all the errors and editing that is left to do. A growing sense of procrastination is pulling at my hands, but then “Audrey Hepburn” by The Shacks starts playing, and I start to finish the story right then and there.
It takes a month or two, mostly because of my teaspoon-sized attention span. But soon half a script becomes a whole one, and I cradle that thing like it’s my baby. I don’t know why. I’m not even sure if I like it, but I call my parents and ask them to read it. They do. And out of genuine honesty and/or parental dedication, they say that it is good. So does my brother. I am glowing with self-satisfaction, so much so that I succeed in finding another boyfriend, one with a much less ordinary name. He likes films as much as I do, and has impeccable taste in music. Not that I would date him if he didn’t, of course.
I send the script to as many production companies as possible, begging them to take a chance on a 24-year-old who took a single class in cinema theory once. And naturally, they all say ‘no’ to a desperate kid. So eventually, I leave it alone and stop bashing my head against the wall. My not-ordinary boyfriend moves in and comforts me a bit. Maybe we watch Moonrise Kingdom and forget what it means to be disappointed.
After a while, I realize that a degree in English might actually be a little helpful, so I take up a job that I don’t love, but also don’t hate: journalism. I write an array of articles, from boring, to absolutely riveting. The fictional, whimsical ones go to The Walrus, and the ones about homesickness go back to The Observer because, as if against my will, I actually miss Haida Gwaii. Money starts to stabilize, which is shocking enough. Not-ordinary boyfriend finds a mediocre job he doesn’t hate, and we both seem to have found a way to balance life by… not hating it. I will realize many, many years later that it is a very low bar to set.
When I get a promotion a year later, not-ordinary boyfriend and I go to an Italian place for dinner. Two 26-year-olds find an excuse to dress up and he proposes without stuttering. I say ‘yes’, knowing that I have a life of good films and a job that I don’t hate ahead, which really is the American dream, isn’t it?
I start working on a closet project — one that my not-ordinary fiancé won’t know about for a while. Even my family is exempt from it. And within the span of eight months, after preparations that become arbitrary after five minutes and a bachelorette party that needs to be spent drunk to avoid mediocrity, I am married to not-ordinary husband. He’s nice. Still likes good films and good music, so really, what else can a girl ask for?
The magazine articles keep going, and I start to enjoy it a little. The closet project continues, and a few weeks before I am finished, a second life pops up in my belly. The daughter I will have in nine months will be named something pretentious, probably, but appropriately so, since her parents are such snobby film buffs. My first gift to her is the song “Needles and Pins” by The Ramones.
The closet project turns out to be a book. This one actually gets published.
I won’t go on. I think you all get the idea. And the best part of everything here is that, most likely, none of it will happen like this at all. I know that very well. Still, it’s nice to pretend to be a witch every now and then. I have always been a firm believer in surface value, so I don’t think there’s anything deep to be found in these paragraphs. Other than a very small dream, perhaps, tucked in the back, between the lines.