Halfway point of the thirties onto 40, the halfway point to being full dead if you round down those life expectancy numbers.
It’s a crazy week for me. Tomorrow I leave for New York to launch the latest issue of Rat Queens with a team of burlesque dancers and probably a few pints of beer. I’ve got solicitation copy to write for Peter Panzerfaust #22 and Rat Queens #9. I actually don’t have time to be writing this, but, I felt it was fitting to reflect on what has been a wonderful year for me.
At the end of 2012, I moved to Vancouver. I experienced a lot of my life in Saskatoon. Many wonderful things but, sadly, a lot of heartache. I think I’d lost myself in a lot of ways. I couldn’t tell which end was up and I was going around in circles. I saw all the reminders of what I perceived to be evidence of what defined me. And that definition had become one of failure.
So, I left.
It was probably the scariest thing I’d ever done in my life. Maybe even the bravest. I packed up what little possessions I had into the back of my 2004 Aveo (RIP) and headed West. I actually made the decision over the course of two hours and put the plan in place in little over two weeks. Have you ever had that feeling like your skin is crawling but, inside somewhere? A completely fictitious itch in your head?
I still remember driving away, watching the city disappear in my rear view mirror. Like I’d never see it again. With each mile I felt the excitement of living creep back in. A feeling I’d been familiar with a few times in my adult life, but it’d always seemed to be fleeting.
I would miss my friends. My family. My home. But I would not miss the person I was there. I had a chance to start over without the baggage. Without the shame. People would experience me as a man with a clean slate.
There’s a funny story about my first weekend in Vancouver. It involves my fiancée, Shannon. I’d been in Vancouver only a few days when I met her. While she would prefer the story told of us meeting at a party, the truth is we met on Plenty of Fish where online dating is the equivalent of trying to dissuade a suicide bomber long enough to escape the blast radius.
It was an early Sunday afternoon, 5 full days after I’d arrived, and it nearly didn’t happen. We were both feeling the pain from a night of drinking in our separate worlds, but we’d really enjoyed our conversation on the site. (Side note: I won her over with my very first question; if you were stranded on an island and only had one show to watch and it was either Firefly or Buffy, what would you choose?)
So we met. And we had a wonderful time. We saw Life of Pi together. We laughed a lot during our coffee before the show. We both walked away having really enjoyed the afternoon, but both deciding it would stay as a real swell friendship.
Then we saw each other again.
And pretty soon we spent most of our time together.
It wasn’t just that we could make each other laugh easily. Or the fact that we could talk about any topic, intellectual or simple, but that she challenged me to be a better man without the demand of me becoming one. That alone was enough to take a long look inside and see the patterns that had long been waylaying me.
Then I had a new freedom that I’d never experienced my entire life. Because I saw my life for what it was, that I’d made choices I could blame no one else for. And at the end of that realization was Shannon, still standing with me. And I loved her for it.
Many of you have seen my life grow with her. You have read my posts about the child I’m having with her. About me proposing to her even in light of my negative views on marriage after having barely survived my first.
It’s the first time in my life I know I’ve made a right decision in my personal life and I won’t lose sight of that.
I’ve managed to do a lot with my career. I took a short stint with Black Tusk Studios and worked on a triple A videogame. I learned a lot, probably the most valuable lesson being able to work with a team of creative people. While I enjoyed it, I realized that it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go with my career.
In that time I launched Rat Queens, which has gone on to be my most successful and personally rewarding pieces of work I’ve ever done. Not just because it’s been a joy to write and to collaborate with Roc on, but because of the experience I’ve had with the fans who love it.
To hear that it was nominated for an Eisner was a real shock. I think I’d always just thought of it as an important book within the community that supported it, but to be recognized on that level was probably what I needed to adjust the view of my own work. I’m eternally hard on myself.
Still, I strive to be better.
In writing and in life.
I miss home. I miss my family. My friends. My heart is still in Saskatoon in a lot of ways, but my new life is here. Next to Shannon and Willow.
And from that vantage point, the future looks brighter than ever.
Here’s to year 35.
Congratulations, sir. Congrats on your impending marriage, your impending child, the success of Rat Queens, and the realization of your direction. Congrats on digging yourself out of a hole, and staying out. Congrats on making it to a 35th birthday that showed you that all the bullshit eventually falls away and leads you to something great.
You’re a wildly different person than when I first met you, and it looks good on you. Happy birthday!
Ah man, this makes me so happy for you. You’re the best!
Congrats and happy birthday! Hope to see you guys soon. 🙂