2011 and 2012 felt less like two separate years and more like one superyear. Like a DVD combo pack of a hit movie and its successful sequel. Similar plot, some slightly new themes, a cast of new characters, and a lot of classically cinematic scenes.
And just like a sequel, I the protagonist started off with an excess of confidence. Things were going my way in nearly every respect. In retrospect, I was probably pretty obnoxious at times with my constant yammering and boasting. Something I did a lot of when training new reporters on shoots. For some reason they always happened to be comely girls my age, and I couldn’t help but spend time showboating for them when I should have been practicing my scripts.
A few extra takes later and no harm was done. Other than some subtle flirting nothing ever came of my pre-show platitudes. I finished each shoot and would head home to jump on Facebook Messenger to talk to Emma, my crush at the time. All through that January we would chat but I never got that green light, that sign that she was interested in me.
I should pause here to mention that despite my career, social life, and creative side all flourishing, romantic failures like these meant my personal life did still hit small bumps from time to time. By 2012 I’d already been fighting with anxiety and depression in small doses for a decade, and while rare, those doses did flare up more vividly as the years went by.
For a long time I dealt with it through performative angst, playing up my image as the sad pensive emo kid in a lighthearted manner. As time passed I decided to outgrow that phase and “mature”, at least externally. I gradually started hiding that from the world as the physical symptoms like the chest pains started to emerge, and hid sad thoughts from everyone. I mean, they only came once every few months, why bother complaining about them? I could handle a little darkness in November or March or July, whatever.
Besides, I could just channel my loneliness into music. Most of my creative efforts in 2011 and 2012 revolved around writing songs, bolstered by the massive amount of great music that was being released at the time. In February I also began looking at video as a viable outlet again, browsing better DSLRs than the one I’d bought two years prior. Which I’d used mainly to take videos of my sister’s pet rats which I’d been entrusted with for the winter and spring of 2012.
Life continued on through March as an incredibly mild winter barely made an appearance. Not one real snowfall arrived all season long, and by early March I was walking down Davis Drive in Newmarket with a warm breeze in my hair as I listened to The Shins on my way home from a Rogers shoot. I’d just covered a psychic expo where a fortune teller said that good things were right around the corner for me. When I got home I had Chinese food for dinner and the fortune cookie said something similar. My horoscope made it three-for-three and I started the next month with so much eagerness I thought I would explode.
A few weeks later I went out for my nightly evening run. Over the years I’d been shouted at by various hooligans on the street but paid little attention to them. On April 18th I decided to watch Terminator 2 prior to my run and being an extremely impressionable young man, I thought I would be a tough Arnold guy and confronted a punk who yelled a slur at me. Unfortunately I am not made of metal, and he decked me in the face and split my lip, which resulted in stitches. I shoved him to the ground, got a few kicks in, then continued my run, albeit a little faster than before.
I still had the stitches when I worked an Edge shift with Emma, but I spent the bulk of it laughing with her. Afterwards the team went for an impromptu bowling night where I could show off my skills as a former 10-pin champion. It was a fantastic night and it was capped off with….me having to go home as my lip was in intense pain. Turns out sometimes laughter isn’t the best medicine. And so nothing happened with Emma. That dormant flame I thought would ignite instead smoldered out.
May was largely uneventful, although it was the first time I can remember being upset about an Edge shift. Having to do heavy labour for a corporate charity event while a bunch of suits watched was my first experience with job-based bitterness. And then both Emma got a boyfriend.
In mid-June I lived through a major news event in the form of the Radiohead stage collapse, which left me thinking about the fragile nature of life a lot. The pet rats I’d been taking care of died of old age around this time as well, so I was pretty tender for a few days.
Indulging in a little retail therapy, I finally bought myself a new camera. I would end up using it mostly for photos rather than for the first few years of owning it, and I did get some decent shots
Around the middle of the year I entered my YOLO phase, and I started to binge watch indie comedy-dramas like Young Adult and Jeff Who Lives At Home, many of which affected me deeply. Due to these movies I began to see everything in life as a “sign from the universe”, where any and every coincidence was an affirmation of a grand existential narrative. I would take alternate routes to work and feel validated if I found a penny on the different path.
It was before a Coldplay shift in July that I decided to buy a suit, just because. Not only that, but I texted one of the new street team recruits- Rochelle – to help me pick one out. She did, and when we arrived outside the Air Canada Centre laughing and talking I noticed that another new recruit – Hannah – was giving me inquisitive looks. Hannah stuck by my side the whole night, and suddenly I got myself a new crush.
It was a frustrating one though, a true push-and-pull that I really didn’t know how to properly approach. Having absolutely no experience with dating, I didn’t know how to naturally play it cool with crushes. You see, once I start having feelings for someone I lose any modicum of composure. I can puff my chest and play the rock star in front of girls I’m not actively pursuing, but once I actually invest some emotion into the relationship I become a nervous wreck with approximately 0.01% wit.
The only saving grace was that Emma, who I was still on good terms with, would also be present at these events. Because I’d moved on from being interested in her romantically, I could talk to her with my regular level of charisma. Hannah saw this and I eventually managed to delicately leverage the situation. With a bit of luck I made plans with Hannah to go see The Dark Knight Rises.
My luck did not extend to the hang-out itself, which…was kind of weird, to be honest. Hannah invited me to her place where we played some sort of Dungeons and Dragons type game…and then I went home.
But of course I was in the throes of attraction and the next shift I totally blew it and became a sad clinger when I saw her hanging out with another guy team member. I circled around like a vulture, trying my best to stay away but interjecting myself into their conversations far too often.
After that embarrassing display of neediness I decided to stay and watch The Black Keys for a few songs. This was when the universe played along with the rules of that summer and threw me a big sign.
I stayed for about five Black Keys’ songs while the rest of the team headed back to company HQ. Eventually I made my way to the bus station hub, only to find that I’d missed the regional bus home by a few minutes. I opted to go on the subway, where I just happened to run into my fellow team member who Hannah had been flirting with all night long. He had unloaded the team truck and gotten on the subway at the same time as I did, which was an odd coincidence on its own. Throw in the fact that he didn’t normally ever go up to the suburbs and I was convinced the universe was on my side. Because once we got into conversation he casually mentioned how Hannah had led him on earlier in the summer and flaked out. Instantly I realized that I had been way too invested into this girl for the past month and felt much better. I had been taking things way too seriously and she was just trying to have a fun summer.
The next week I bumped into Cindy in the hall at work. Freshly single Cindy, who I’d hung out with exactly two years earlier. We talked a bit and I reminded her about Jumex, the drink we’d had at a Thai restaurant. I jokingly said we ought to have another Jumex night, to which she agreed.
That Friday I headed over to the Thai place, only to get a text from Cindy that she wasn’t feeling well, but if I wanted I could come over to her place. So I bought some Jumex and jumped on the subway. I made a pit stop at a grocery store to buy some frozen pizza, because I’m a lame uncle and wanted to make a “it’s not delivery, it’s Delissio” joke. Then I got lost so I texted Cindy to find me. She met me halfway and we tried to heat up the pizza in her oven, which didn’t work. So we headed over to McDonald’s. The reason that I bring up all these minutiae is because all this somehow timed out precisely so that when Cindy and I went into the McDonald’s near her house, we just happened to bump into Hannah.
Universe : “HEY MAN. I JUST REDEEMED YOU. YOU ARE NO LONGER AN UNCOOL CLINGER”.
Nothing happened between myself and Cindy, by the way. We talked a bit, I left, and we didn’t really stay in touch after that. She was let go from the company and I didn’t see her anymore.
I did see Hannah again though, at the next Edge shift where my confidence had been fully mended. I’m a stupid-head though, and I threw out the universe’s favor by once again asking Hannah to hang out. She agreed, and then proceeded to ghost me in the most blatantly uncaring way possible.
Universe: “Dude, I bailed you out and you had to go and try again.”
However the universe had one more surprise for me. After a brief detour to Mimico to pick up some legal papers for my parents that day, I walked dejected to the bus station- and bumped into a friend from the radio station with whom I had a really nice talk about my woes- a bittersweet capstone to the Hannah saga.
September was a fresh start to a season filled with more YOLO moments. I went to my very first karaoke night with the street team. I got to see The Killers front row at a secret show where they played every one of my favourite songs. I interviewed Alan Thicke for a Rogers TV story. I wrangled guests backstage at the Edge’s awards show. I really got into boxing culture.
I got a tattoo. Then I bought and learned how to play a banjo just to be an accurate Mumford and Sons for Halloween. Both of these were to impress girls, both failed miserably.
The fall of 2012 continued. November 25th rolled around and I worked outside a Gaslight Anthem show at Sound Academy, where there were a whole lot of icy rocks which I thought would be great for parkour. In an attempt to impress my coworkers I did a stunt jump that was very dumb to do and I hurt my foot so bad I thought I was gonna die. Especially after having to walk all the way back to Union Station on that foot.
I didn’t die, but my debut as a pugilist did. The next day was supposed to be my big boxing shoot for Rogers; the one I’d trained months for. While my foot got moderately better, it still wasn’t in any shape to duck and weave on.
You know who else didn’t die in 2012? Everyone on Earth. The world did not in fact end, but the Mayan Calendar may have actually been forecasting the end of my good times. In December my benevolent boss Beardmaster announced he was leaving to travel the world. At the time I was mildly upset, but I didn’t know exactly how intensely this would change my life. The roller coaster lurched at the top of the hill and let out a long, drawn out groan. That groan was 2013.