I started liking heavy metal when I was eight-years-old.
This was my mother's friends fault. My mother had two good friends, Maria and Kerri-Ann. Maria and Kerri-Ann were the most amazing and coolest couple you can know as an 8 years old. I mean, I loved them. I used to spend weekends over at their house watching horror films and eating all the best snacks. They used to show me a kind of love and affection that no one outside of my family had shown me. It was like I was one of theirs. It was a great feeling to know you were that loved and cared for. This was especially important to me because I had just moved to a new province and I was away from everything that was familiar to me. Thus, their protective nature over me was comforting as well as their love for me. They really had taken me into their family as their own and it felt great.
To tell you how loving and caring they were, when my mother needed to get major surgery, I stayed at Maria and Kerri-Ann's house for a few days and, you know as a child, sometimes you can get uncomfortable sleeping at other peoples houses. Well, not with Maria and Kerri-Ann—I felt right at home. I remember, they took me to see my mother in the hospital after she had woken up and it was heartbreaking. I mean, I know she would be okay but seeing her with a catheter and things plugged to herbody like that crushed me. But then, with the support and love of these two amazing women, I felt much better after my visit.
I mean, they would listen to the coolest music! They would take me to the coolest shops, These two women made my move to Ontario very smooth and, are in part, responsible for my deep love of music today. They simply were fantastic! I even had my surprise 13th Spongebob Squarepants pool birthday party at their home, a party which I will never forget.
But, let's get back to the music.
Kerri-Ann, a tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed lady, listened to bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Hendrix, Joplin, Ozzy Osborne, well, basically all the cool shit! I, at 8 years old, listened to Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys (not complaining because they're both great but... you know... they're no Led Zeppelin!). Sometimes, when we'd drive around town in Maria's little yellow car, we would listen to those "cool" bands, and I got to liking them a lot. I would listen to my radio at home in hopes to hear those songs again and, hoping that I would eventually have some money to buy some CDs so I could listen to the songs over and over again.
On a few occasions, I started to sing along to some songs and Kerri-Ann must have noticed that I was liking this stuff because she started to give me CDs for me to listen at home (dream come true!). Ah! that's when my soul, my mind, my entire being decided to devote itself to the love of music. I remember she had given me the Led Zeppelin box set which I religiously listened to over and over and over and over again on my CD player. She also gave me some Ozzy Osborne CDs, Rod Stewart, The Beatles, The Doors... and, JIMI HENDRIX.
You see, by this time, I had developed a little crush on Jimi Hendrix, and by little I mean, huge! I was maybe around 11 or 12 by now. Hendrix had become this sort of rock god, first boyfriend, daydreaming fantasy to me. I loved this man. I loved his music. I loved his voice. I loved everything about him! And, one day, while we were on a day trip to Burlington, not very far away from where I lived in Cambridge, Ontario, with my two favorite friends, we walked into a music shop and there it was, a shiny, huge, black and white poster of the god himself! He had no shirt on, just a jacket which exposed his bare chest, his afro was marvelously combed, his face was even better and, I wanted it SO BAD! I didn't have money and they told me they didn't either (what an easy lie to tell a child!) so, a little disappointed, we walked out and continued on with our day.
I hadn't forgotten about this poster, even as a child I had a sharp memory. My birthday rolled around, all my friends were enjoying their day at the pool, Tommy, Kurtis, Chantal, and Caroline were some of the many friends that had shown up to surprise me. It was a blast and, probably one of my favorite memories of my childhood. We jumped in the pool and swam all day long, eating snacks and cake and... the much anticipated moment came.
I got to open my presents.
The best part of any birthday party! I opened a few of my friends' gifts, and I remember getting a guitar-shaped CD holder which I loved, some clothes from mom (of course...) and then... came Kerri-Ann and Maria's gift. I opened it carefully and, there it was in all its glory, Jimi Hendrix. They had fooled me and bought me that gorgeous poster we had seen in the music shop! I was SO EXCITED! If I remember correctly, they had also bought me a Jimi Hendrix figure, a perfect replica of him at Woodstock '69 with the white fridge jacket, bare chest, his white guitar, and faded blue jeans. I was over the moon ecstatic!
I still own the poster after all these years (it's carefully stored away to avoid damaging it), the action figure and many of the CDs Kerri-Ann had given me. There will never be enough words in my vocabulary to express my gratitude towards these two fantastic women who guided me to find myself, find my passions and pursue them to the fullest. I am, and will love music forever and always because of them. Hendrix will always remain my music god, Led Zeppelin will always remind me of receiving the Led Zeppelin box set from Kerri-Ann, Ozzy Osbourne will always remind me of my step-dad telling me I was too young to listen to this sort of music, Metallica will always remind me how my step-dad took me to see them at the age of 12, and the Beatles will always remind me of that weird dream I had of John Lennon in 6th grade.
I have loved music beyond any other passion or interest in my life. Music has saved me from depression, anxiety, anger, and bad behavior. My eagerness to discover new artists and new bands has never faded and I'm as interested and as in love with it as I was when I was eight. I will, as mentioned above, forever be grateful for those two women who helped shape who I am today.
There will be a moment in your life when you will feel what it’s like to live without someone. And, I’m not talking about living without an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend. I’m talking about actually having to live without someone because they passed away. There will be a moment when you sit down all alone in your living room and think of what that person would be doing right now and it’s going to hurt. It won't hurt as much as it did the day they left, but you’re going to see and feel that empty hole in your chest. You’re going to be painfully aware of this cavity that cannot, and will not, ever be filled. It seems as though this hole in your chest is encased with precious museum quality glass and allows everyone to see right through you…
When I was a child, my parents worked a lot and my sister and I got babysat by our grandmother. Her name was Yvette. She was about 5 feet tall, white and grey short curly hair, and she had blue eyes and a few hairs on her chin. She wore dentures which she faithfully took out at night and never failed to talk to us without them in her mouth before going to sleep!
I would sleep at her house often. I would sleep next to her at night but her snoring was so loud that I’d end up sleeping on the couch. She would always have the warmest blankets—you know, the ones that you can’t buy at the store but are handmade with love. I’d bury myself with four of five blankets and I’d fall asleep.
You see, at that young age, I must have been around 6 or 7, I was afraid of the dark, so my grandmother would leave a night light on so I’d be less scared. I used to also sleep with a blanky (I still do!) around my head to warm my ears up at night and this used to drive her crazy! She was so scared that I’d choke myself with this yellow blanket that was falling apart. She’d tell me not to sleep with it around my neck. You know, grandmother’s just want to protect you and want the best for you in the end. So, to satisfy her, I’d take it down and once I heard those snores, I knew it was safe to warm up my ears again.
My grandmother used to collect cows. She just loved them. She had cups with cows on them, cow teddy bears, cow aprons, cow statuettes, cow toys, cow everything! I used to find this odd until she died. Once she passed away on April 26th, 2007, every damn cow I saw made that hole in my chest grow a little wider.
My grandmother was also a little poor. She lived in a small two bedroom apartment with noisy upstairs neighbors. She never had the best of anything but, she always made the best of everything. She used to make my sister and me, and often my father as well, the ultimate dishes. She would take very little ingredients, as her budget didn’t allow her to splurge, and come up with the most tasteful menu. For example, her pizza. She used to buy the dough and, sometimes hand make it, she would use a small can of tomato sauce and veggies and hamburger meat and, for sausages, she would cut hot dog slices. Fuck, that was the best damn pizza you could ever feed a 6-year-old! She would also make the ultimate desserts. She’d also make the most amazing chicken stew that no one in my family can reproduce. And, since she didn’t have a lot of money, something that I wasn’t aware of at the time, she’d take us to the grocery store and she would buy us orange ice cream. It wasn’t the best but, right now, I’d give up everything in my life to eat one last bowl with her.
My grandmother was my favorite person growing up. We’d go strawberry picking for hours on end, we’d listen to cheesy French Canadian Western music on the red porch of her camper. We’d make strawberry mouse together and god, did she ever make the best strawberry mouse. We would sit and reluctantly watch the news with her and even though I hated watching Abbe Lanteigne tell us about New Brunswick’s downfalls and cheers ups, I would love nothing more than to sit on that uncomfortable couch again with the blankets piled up on the left side one more time with her.
I have to laugh. Now that she’s been gone for 12 years, every day I see or do something that reminds me of her. For example, she used to hate when I’d put my hair behind my ears because she thought since my bunched up hair in the back of my ears caused them to stick out a bit, that I would grow up and my ears would stick out forever. Now, every time I put my hair behind my ears, I still hear her voice telling me to stop!
I also vividly remember the time she got extremely upset with me because I kept bringing rocks in the camper she used to live in during the summers. She would find rocks everywhere and she would throw them back outside! I loved and still love collecting rocks, but, since that moment, I have tried to limit my rock intake, hehe!
My grandmother, Yvette, also wore this white sleeveless top with blue flowers on it, she would also wear this other sleeveless top that was pink and orange with a weird flower on it as well. She would knit and sew and gave you $10 on Christmas in a mini stocking. She would make sure you ate, even if it was those little mini sausages in a can. She would make sure you showered and brushed your teeth. She would try her best to help you with your homework, even though she didn’t have the best education and didn’t know how to read. She would kiss your cheeks and be oh, so happy when she saw you walk through the front door.
My grandmother is my museum glass encasing.
I guess this was expected. Moving to another country, knowing no one, being alone and lonely. But, I never thought it would feel like this. You know, when I lived in Montreal I was a bit lonely but that was self-inflicted, I didn't want to go out much but, here, in Madrid, I do want to go out and live but, making friends has been my biggest challenge as of yet. I just don't fit in with these people...
I mean, yeah, okay, I've met some cool people at work but even with them, I don't fit in. They all speak their language and I clearly don't understand anything so I just sit there like an idiot wondering why I even came out with them... I'm with a smile on my face waiting for someone to realize that I'm there and that I don't understand. Its unbearable. Frankly, it's frustrating and annoying and I obviously can't learn five languages to understand everyone.
So, what do I do? I revert to my good ol' ways and hide in my room and binge watchCriminal Minds and write. Sounds fun for a while, but then your mind gets the best of you and you begin to wonder if there is something wrong with you and ask yourself why don't people want to be my friend.
"Why don't people want to be my friend?"
I'm 28 years old, I shouldn't be asking myself questions which are an existential crisis to a 6-year-old.
If they don't want to be my friend, well, fuck em!—I tell myself.
I go back to work and try to fit in. This is a true story. When I moved here, in Madrid, I realized that all, and I mean, ALL the girls would dress very nice, makeup done every day, high heels, hair done to the nines, and I was regular Anik, wearing black and white, not really doing my makeup, hiding behind sunglasses and wearing old sneakers I brought over from Canada. I then started to think to myself, "Shit, maybe if I want to make friends, I need to look like them." Now, if you know me, I've never been one to EVER change for anyone (ask my parents, we've tried to fight this battle and lost terribly) but here, I was so far away from everything I knew, I was lonely and scared and frankly, I was lost. My whole world had shifted. So, I went out and bought colourful clothes. Pants with flowers on them, lose cool pants and nice shoes and colourful tops to match everything. I started waking up early to fix hair nicely and do my makeup everything (lipstick included) and, after a few months, it wasn't working. These people never noticed me. I got frustrated but kept trying. And trying. And trying. And trying. Until one day, while walking on a busy sidewalk after a tiring walk around the city with my boyfriend, it clicked.
If they don't like me, then they don't deserve to be my friend!!
And as much as that sounds like a 10-year-old shouting in a rage, it's an extremely important thought that we must all retain.
I had spent four months trying to impress people that didn't even notice I existed. People that, on a good day, couldn't even manage to say "good morning" to me or even a quiet "bye" when they left the office. That didn't even make an effort to speak to me in a language that I understood. That couldn't even say thank you when I held the door for them or offer me, sweets when they were offering them to everyone else around me.
I looked at my boyfriend and said, Nah, fuck that. I'm going to buy some Doc Martens and returning to my old self. The Anik that I used to be in Canada. The girl that didn't care what people thought of her and did what she wanted, when she wanted, and on no one else's watch but her own.
And I did just that.
I bought some Doc Martens.
Once I got home, I was pumped. I was fueled. My blood was racing in my veins. I was so pumped that I destroyed ALL my colourful clothes. I cut them up and stretched them out and threw all of the bits and pieces in the trash.
The relief of the pressure was so big that it felt like finally opening the bottle of champagne after violently shaking it.
At that moment, I realized that I didn't need to change my clothes or my hair or makeup to impress anyone. I felt like I was living in a clown suit for four months. I didn't even know who I was anymore. I was trying so damn hard to impress people that I should of never, ever wasted my time on.
The next week at work, I wore my black boots, my black pants and my black t-shirt, the red lipstick and my hair up, tattoos showing and I thought, this is me. This is who I am and there's no one else or anything else that I'd rather look like right now, then THIS!
I felt at ease, I felt comfortable and it dawned on me that it didn't matter if these people liked me or not. The only thing that mattered is if I was happy with myself and, I was (still am). Sitting in my chair at my desk, my pants weren't too tight, I wasn't wondering if I looked fat or not or if anyone would notice the extra time I spent on my hair... I just sat there, listening to heavy metal and didn't bother myself with anyone's thoughts of concerns but my own.
So, moral of the story, NEVER change to impress people. No one cares and no one notices. Be your weird self and people will flock to you. The right people will always find you. Always.