This is my family circa 1985 right before Christmas. My parents had only been married for 5 years. We were living in a townhouse in Winnipeg. My parents were very young when they got married and they had my brother and I when they were very young. My parents made it work. It wasn't always easy. We didn't have a lot of money when I was a kid but they made it work. And they look time in the chaos that is raising a young family and my dad getting his degrees and my mom working full time to just be a family. Those moments of family togetherness has greatly informed how I see the world and how I cling to my family. I know the moments together are important and when given the opportunity to spend time together I jump at the chance.
Summer of 2005 I ran away to England to work in Canterbury. I realized just now that was 10 years ago this year. Yikes I'm old! I was 21 and I was traveling abroad solo for the first time. I met some people that I'm still friends with and I fell in love with Europe. This summer also planted the seed of living overseas in my brain. I also proved to myself I could be on my own and have an adventure. It also taught me I was a lot stronger and braver than I thought I was. I was living and working in Canterbury when the July 7 bombing happened. I comforted crying summer school kids and co-workers alike. I promised John while I was away that the next time I went to England, he was coming with me. We ended up in England in March 2012 and it was the first time I had been back and John was in fact with me this time.
This is the last time I saw my Oma. She passed away about 9 months after this photo was taken. I was in Switzerland. Heart broken. She was the coolest most bad ass woman I've ever met. She is who I want to be when I grow up. She devoted her life to the care of others. To her children. To her grandchildren. The smell of boiled potatoes and freshly washed dishes sends me backwards to her kitchen. She worked outside the home when a lot of women didn't. She went to at least one year of University when a lot of women didn't. She got married much later in life (she said her late 30's....she was actually in her 40's.) She could start a steam tractor and was known to leap over things to get the good seats at the ice capades. She is the reason I am the way I am in a lot of ways.
Roller derby changed everything for me. It made me brave. It made me tough and it made me confront my own person demons I have when it comes to my body. It made me feel okay about the way I looked and it made it okay for me be to crazy aggressive. It also gave me a community. A place where I felt like I belonged. A big part of my life has been informed by my involvement in derby. I play because my Oma loved it. I continue to play because I love it. And I will play as long as I can because my goddaughter recently started playing junior derby and her joy for the game makes me want to play until I absolutely can't anymore.
This is my favourite picture of Johnathan. I said something and he laughed really really hard. We find each other delightful..and challenging...and maddening...and hilarious. He is the reason we're overseas. His single-minded determination is what got us to Switzerland. And it was my ability to just adapt because of all the moving I did as a kid got us a life here. We make a pretty great team...when we remember we're on the same team.