Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wake up call

Most people, anxious to move from their parents' humble abode and into their own complex, are completely oblivious to the complexities of it all. Think of your life right now if you're still living at home. Your fridge is always full. You can just go grab whatever you want whenever you want. You don't have to worry about having to go get groceries or being able to afford them. You can use the telephone whenever you want - not having to worry about running up the phone bill. You probably leave the bathroom light on without thinking. You probably don't worry about turning off the television when you leave to go eat. I imagine that you just crank up the heat when you're cold in the winter time.

All of these luxuries (yes, trust me... they are luxeries) will fade when you're on your own. One day, it's like the carpet will be yanked from underneath you and you'll see how quickly the scenery changes on the fall down.

You'll have to balance the cost of tuition, books, rent, electricity, phone, cable, internet, and groceries. Note other luxuries not listed above (alcohol, shopping money, money for things like shampoo and toilet paper). You may think it will be a breeze and that you're up for the challenge... but boy, oh boy, you are in for a treat! Perhaps your parents still plan on paying for everything while you're living on your own - but that won't last.

You will quickly develop OCD, making sure all of the lights are turned off (even when you leave the room for a second). You will resort to a sweater (or two or three sweaters) in the wintertime instead of turning up the heat. You will probably even resort to lighting candles for warmth (or at least you should.) As great as living on your own is, it still sucks. Responsibility sure seems like a luxury from the outside, but on the inside it's just a ball of stress that vomits all over you every month when you receive your multiple bills.

Once upon a time, your cell phone was equipped with voice mail, caller ID, unlimited texting and web browsing. As soon as you acknowledge your lack of money, you'll be downgrading your cell phone plan so you can have the extra forty dollars a month to buy food.

Advice? Keep track of it all. There's nothing worse than getting paid and then wondering where the hell all of your earnings went. Buy a notebook and keep track of how your money is divided and how much goes towards what. You will learn to budget and you will also learn how to fight the temptation to buy the new leather boots in the store window when you realize you'd rather not starve. Before you buy something, ask yourself... "Do I need this? Or do I just want it?" There's nothing wrong with treating yourself to a meal out or a night of social drinking every once and a while. But there's a huge problem if you're going out boozing every weekend and you're getting harassed by your landlord to pay the remainder of your apartment rent.

Keep your priorities straight folks! And remember to budget!

Happy living!

A precious memory

Leaving Toronto was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I was in my room, listening to music, when my Irish friends piled into my doorway. Tears clogged my eyes when they handed me over an Irish flag penned up with messages that they each had written out to me. It warmed my heart to see that my friendship meant a lot to them and that they were going to miss me.

This summer was one of the best summers I've ever had and I'm so glad that I decided to go. Saying goodbye to each of my friends from all over the world was harder than I could've imagined. It's seldom that many people can say they spent their summer becoming friends with people from France, Ireland, America, England, Holland and Austria. We were a close-knit group who loved spending time together. So, as devestated as I was that I couldn't go to camp this summer... I'm doubtful that I would've had a better time there. For years, my summers at camp were as good as it got - I couldn't imagine anything better... until now. I'm not sure if I'll ever have a summer as memorable as my summer of 2010.

I thought a part of me would be happy to fly back to Cape Breton. I thought for sure that I would feel right at home driving through the streets of my hometown, right by the ocean. But all I can think of is how much I miss the glowing city of Toronto at night time... and all of my friends that I left behind there. The saddest part of it all is that I know if ever I return to Toronto, it would never be the same. The huge part of why my summer was so unbelievable was because of the people whom I met and spent time with.

So, when I was leaving Toronto... I recognized that it would probably be the last time I would ever have a summer like this. I recognized that a lot of these friends that I've made, I'll probably never see again. It's terribly sad to recognize that my summer of 2010 is just a precious memory that only exists in my mind. It's a memory I'll forever long to escape back into...