When my father was 27 years old, he held the owner of a downtown Ottawa hotel (and his lawyers) hostage at gunpoint, and forced them to sign papers transferring ownership of the building to him. When he was 28, he burned the 145-year-old building to the ground to collect a half-million dollars in insurance money. He was thirty when he was indicted.
I never wanted to be anything in particular by the time I was thirty (assuming, like all teenagers, that I would never make it there), but I knew exactly what I didn’t want to be.
Just over three years ago I wrote about getting fucked over by the people I lived with, and resolved not to waste my time and energy on people who don’t hold up their end of the social contract (my “no jerks” policy). It was tougher than I can find words for, and I had to cut out a lot of people in my life who I previously considered friends — and while there are still holes in my heart where people I’ve lost used to be, my quality of life changed overnight, and I haven’t looked back.
I’ve also tried a lot of things since then to address the problems I have that are internal rather than external: Neurotherapy, meds, drugs, Man’s Search For Meaning and a fleet of therapists — I even wrote a fucking album — but it’s like chewing tylenol while walking on glass, and I’ve come to understand why that is:
I’ve spent my entire life living a series of shared fortunes; I’ve always been responsible for other people’s welfare, and other people have always been responsible for mine.
I need to own my own happiness and security, and no one else’s. I realized this last year, and set a deadline of my thirtieth birthday to get there. And so I have made some big decisions and taken some drastic steps in the last six or seven months.
I’m moving out of the house I share with Leslie, Mike and Suzanne — a house I love, where I live with people I love — into an apartment of my own. A place where I’m not ever worried about wrecking other people’s lives, where I won’t ever have to stress about collective finances, where I’m never going to get a surprise $1000+ hydro bill (or several of them consecutively), and where I can know exactly, every month, just how much I need to spend on where I live. Where no one’s nose gets broken but mine if I fuck things up.
I need space to take inventory of my own wants and needs, so that I can triage and try to make sure they don’t reach crisis proportions again.
I’m going to take whatever time I need to get my head and heart straight so that I can be a better friend, partner, activist, lover.
So I can build something that I am proud to share with the people I love and trust.