I don’t especially like the song “Peace & Quiet” by White Lies. In fact, I don’t even remember what it sounds like. But because it was released at the beginning of 2011 it has inextricably linked itself to that time period and my memory of it by proxy.
Because that’s all I wanted. Peace and quiet. A period of calm to yet again rebuild myself after the events of the previous year. So nothing really happened during the first half of 2011.
A deep, dark January certainly helped. Buried in the middle of winter I could recuperate from the damage that 2010 dealt me. I started going on very long walks in the woods with my dog. For hours at a time I went through deep forests, sometimes stopping and taking in one vista or another as therapy. This was also the same time I began taking long walks around the city by myself as a means of intense self-reflection. In Hollywood franchise terms, you could say this was Long Pensive Walks: Origins.
My friends at No Frills helped me get through this time as well, even if they didn’t know what I’d just been through. Benji, Sierra and Mikolaj were all instrumental in making life at a discount grocery store bearable.
Meanwhile at the Edge, street team leader Stitch had been replaced by Beardmaster. Chill, relaxed, and most importantly kind, Beardmaster was a boss who literally did not see himself as a boss. He did not once side with management, and in any sort of us vs. them scenario he would always pick us despite his place on the ladder. He called himself “a glorified chauffeur” and it was this humility that made him the best boss I’ve ever had.
Small, seemingly insignificant moments make up the bulk of my memories of this time. I went to the symphony with my friend Janesh before his teaching placement in South Korea. I listened to metric tons of music during the indie pop renaissance that came at precisely the right time in my life. I actually bought a ticket to a concert – one of the only times I’ve ever had to – and went to Bright Eyes’ final Toronto show.
It was an absolutely uneventful start to the year, and exactly what I needed. No Frills shifts, Edge street team shifts, and long walks.
Around April I dipped my toes back into the current. I went on a few inconsequential interviews. On April 23rd I met up with Rameena, an old crush who I hadn’t seen for three years. It was a nice day – the first warm day of the year – and although she seemed impressed that I was now working at her favorite radio station, she made it very clear with a pat on my back that I was still just a friend. I was a little confused as to why she’d reached out to me and proposed a Tim Hortons lunch, even more confused the next day when she suddenly got married.
Beardmaster had his first hiring spree for the Edge street team that May, and he brought on…his friends. Gradually the team became nothing but his former classmates, who simply by virtue of association with this chill dude were great people. And because they all knew and liked each other, it felt like a big family. A family that was all too happy to include me.
I can count the number of genuinely joyous singular moments from this past decade on one hand with fingers left over. One of those specific moments was on Thursday, June 16th, 2011, which by all accounts was the definition of a perfect day. Under warm blue skies I returned to Rogers TV and with confidence I managed to give a confident speech to the producers to get my reporting gig back. I walked down Yonge Street in Richmond Hill with a slushie in my hand, Bon Iver’s “Beth / Rest” in my ears, and a fire in my heart.
The rest of the summer was nothing but fun shifts with fun people and great weather. It was at this moment that I became the best version of myself, and the one I wish I still was. This was the version of me I wish everyone could meet. Beardmaster’s street team was a group of people around whom I needed no filter. Because I was bolstered by my return to television, I was happy, confident, outgoing, charismatic, and funny.
I met Dave Grohl. I hung out backstage at Edgefest. My friend Sierra and I started writing letters to each other for fun. M83’s “Midnight City” had just dropped. This really may have been the best time of my life.
In mid-August I started reporting again and returned with a ferocity that impressed my producer and effectively erased the mistakes I’d made the year before. I was determined to prove that I wanted to work for the privilege of being on-air. I pitched dozens of stories well over the monthly quota.
I went to a garlic festival, a nerd store, a gourmet pizzeria, a hockey tournament. I met the incredibly welcoming people of Schomberg at a curling rink. I interviewed a Jim Henson muppet.
Outside of Rogers was just as eventful. I crashed a gala where MC Hammer was performing. I went to an apple orchard. I went to Mimico to get legal papers for my parents. I went to a poetry reading. I paid off my student debt. I started painting.
I was rambling on about my painting to the street team in the Edge van when we pulled up to the Sony Centre on November 18th; outside a new member was waiting to meet us. Her name was Emma, and when we met I felt like someone had smashed me in the face with a satchel of love dust. I was instantly smitten, and we bonded over our TV aspirations and fondness for The O.C. She was funny, she found me funny, and our conversations never once hit a wall.
I was back on track. I had friends, my old gig, a crush, and big ambitions. I was miles away from where I’d been a year before. It was a shame that 2011 had to end.
Except it didn’t. Not really.