Hello, hello! I haven’t had the chance to write in a little while, but man this past week has been so hectic and so much has happened that I feel like I absolutely need to write about it in order to remember and kind of just discuss things with myself. June has been a crazy month!
Let’s see… I’ll start with last Monday, which by tomorrow will be a week ago.
So, the Raptor’s won the Championship (let’s gooooo!) and honestly it was so much fun to celebrate with the city the night that they won. And then on the Monday, there was a celebratory parade and rally set to be held at Nathan Phillip’s Square. My mom, my sister and I got to Nathan Phillip’s around 6 in the morning in order to acquire some good viewing spots, and we actually did! It was really exciting, the prospect of being able to see the players and everyone so close up.
But oh man. The day wore on, the brisk coolness of the early morning turned into a blazing heat by midday. And the parade got delayed, meaning that instead of being about 2 hours, it turned into about 4. By around 3-4 pm (which was about 7-8 hours of being stuck in the same spot in a crowd of about a million people) Olivia and I were getting extremely restless. We decided to head towards the back to visit our cousins, and I really wanted to be able to say hi to Adrian because he was also in the crowd towards the back.
We ventured out through the crowd, telling everyone jovially that we’d be back and to save our spots. But as we left the “oasis” of the front and made our way further back, people became less and less kind. “Yeah okay, nice try – you lost your spots now, don’t bother coming back”, or “you’re definitely not making it back to where you were” became the common theme of comments we heard as we navigated towards where our cousins were. And honestly, it wasn’t too difficult to make our way through that sea of people – but towards the back.
Eventually, we found our cousins and got to say hi, which was so nice and a refreshing change from being stuck in the crowd in one spot for 8 hours. I was going to go say hi to Adrian afterwards, but the crowd was so dense where he was that I figured I’d find him afterwards. So Olivia and I decided to try and make our way back towards our mom in the front.
Except, people weren’t budging, not even in the slightest. Not physically, not in any way. “Sureeee, your mom’s in the front… yeah my cousin’s up there too”, “hell nah you’re not passing us”, you name the mean comment, we heard it. Olivia was ready to fight someone practically, they were so rude. Eventually, we made it about a quarter of the way there when we got completely stuck in a crowd of people who were very tall, very big, and extremely unkind. They weren’t allowing us to pass, and all our feeble attempts of “excuse me, sorry, please we just want to get to our mom” were falling on deaf ears.
The anxiety and the claustrophobic atmosphere was unbearable and I was honestly at a loss. At this point in the day, after being trapped in that crowd for 8 hours and experiencing that amount of resentment, bitterness and terrible people, I no longer had the energy to fight anyone or push my way through any further. We stopped, looked at each other and Olivia began to cry, her anxiety and frustration finally overtaking her.
I tried so hard to keep my composure but honestly, I was losing it too. We realized we weren’t going to be able to get back to our mom (who was also extremely upset and calling us relentlessly to get back to her) so we decided to head to the back and decide what we’d do. Once we managed to make our way out of the crowd once more, I finally allowed myself to react to my extreme anxiety and had a minor breakdown as well. It was all just too much. Olivia decided to go home, and I decided to go find Adrian so that I could be with him for the duration of the event.
He was up against a wall of the skate rental building, so I had to go all the way around and try to edge my way through yet another crowd of people who were angry, frustrated, and not moving. Luckily though, there was someone standing on the ledge of the rental window who was high enough to see into the crowd. I asked him if there was a guy with a blue jays hat, and he was able to spot Adrian just a couple people down the wall. He called out to him to let him know I was close, which was so nice.
I managed to make it about half way before I basically hit a wall – a wall of two extremely tall guys who were pretending not to hear me when I explained to their backs that my boyfriend was just up ahead of them. Thankfully, Adrian was with his (tall) best friend Liam, and Liam reached up and over to gesture towards me, so the tall guys reluctantly let me through after realizing that I was telling the truth.
Lord almighty what an ordeal. The minute I managed to make it into Adrian’s arms, I immediately started crying out of pure frustration, anxiety and relief that I had finally managed to make it to him.
He managed to calm me down, pressing kisses to the side of my head and murmuring reassuring things into my ear while I tried to get my breathing under control. I think that was the first time he’s ever seen me in a panic attack, and honestly he was such a rock. Eventually I managed to calm down enough to stop crying, and settled into once again waiting for the team to make it to the rally.
Here’s where it got scary: first, a fight broke out and the sheer force of the backlash had people toppling over and pushing through the crowd to the point that we got pressed pretty heavily against the wall. Adrian literally had to put his arms out to push people back so that we wouldn’t get squashed, and at this point it wasn’t just me who was crying – people were having panic attacks left, right and center. People weren’t able to breathe, people were getting suffocated by the sheer force of the crowd.
It got worse. Eventually, the fight settled. But then all of a sudden, things got deathly quiet. I felt it before I heard it really – this sudden boom of sheer kinetic energy that washed through the crowd like an ominous wave. Before we knew it, the crowd was getting pushed towards us at a speed and power that rivalled even the most powerful of tsunamis. Adrian managed to get his arms around me to protect me with his body just in time, but we were immediately thrown against the wall, crushed and pinned there by the stampede that had begun – screams and yells of pure terror peppered the air as people began to run for their lives.
People were getting trampled, shoes were lost, children were getting separated from their parents, and people were running with their elbows up with no fucks to be given as to whom they were hitting. Everyone began fighting for their lives, their safety. Honestly, at this point I was just in shock. At first, we all tried to follow the crowd that was leaving because we weren’t sure what had happened. But we managed to calm down enough to realize that the celebrations were still on-going and the crowd seemed to be settling down, so we decided to stay and see the rest of the event through.
It was only after everything ended that we learnt that four people had been shot in the area we had been in, hence why we got caught in the stampede of people. And not too far from that, three people were stabbed close to the Eaton Center.
We managed to make it home safely and had dinner altogether, thanking our lucky stars that we made it out okay and uninjured for the most part – Adrian’s back was done in due to the rush of the crowd and my shoulder got tweaked by being caught against the wall. But at the end of the day, what was most important was that we made it out at all. But man. That anxiety stays with you. That fear… it clings to you like a second skin. The fear that if you leave your house, if you try to enjoy yourself in this city, you are imminently putting your life in jeopardy no matter how safe you may think you are.
The next day, through a series of circumstances, Radha ended up at my house the next morning because she just wanted to see me for a bit before my work shift, and she even offered to take me to work on her way back home.
But then, Olivia came downstairs and her eye was so swollen it looked like someone had punched her lights out. Not only that, it wasn’t just her eyelids that were swollen – it was her literal eyeball. The whites of her eyes were getting so puffy and stiff that it looked like her pupil was sinking beneath the whites. I immediately began panicking and decided that we had to go to the emergency room at the hospital because I’d never seen anything like that before and you don’t mess around when it comes to your sight or your eyes. It was definitely some kind of allergic reaction, so I made her take some allergy medication.
Radha immediately offered to take us to emerg, so I got someone to cover for my shift and we headed to the hospital.
But once we got there and as we were walking through, I started to realize that maybe… I’d overreacted and gave into my fear response. This was more of a walk-in clinic kind of situation, and Radha kindly explained to me that if we went through with this, we may be taking away an opportunity for someone with a real emergency-level situation to be seen right away. Olivia agreed that it wasn’t that serious and she was feeling a bit better too, so we left the hospital.
Once we got back to the car, Radha spontaneously offered to take us to this beautiful lake where her co-worker owned some property, a road trip to Innisfil to clear our heads and get some sun. At first, I was kind of hesitant – honestly, all I wanted to do at that point was go home, take a hot bath, stay in bed and be a quiet house cat. Especially with what had happened the day before.
But even Olivia was surprised. They both agreed that I’m normally more adventurous and spontaneous than that, and that I couldn’t lose that side of me. I took my discomfort as a sign that this was something we had to do. So, I agreed, and off we went.
As we were on our way there, while we were on the highway Radha was blasting some really amazing feel-good music by Tash Sultana, and she had rolled down all the windows so that the wind was blasting through the car. But there I was, sitting with my eyes closed and fists clenched, still wound up. For some reason, I couldn’t get myself to loosen up and get into the spontaneity of things.
Radha noticed, and she immediately told me open my eyes, let down my hair, stick my head out the window and just… scream. Scream at the top of my lungs.
I looked at her, and then decided she was right. I needed to scream. I slowly gripped the sides of the car door, lifted my head up through the window so that the wind was whipping through my hair, and started screaming as loud as I could.
And man… it was AMAZING. It was EXACTLY what I needed. It was freeing, and so full of pure feeling that I couldn’t even begin to express. Once I’d had my fill, I sat back down and promptly burst into tears of raw emotion. I realized that I’d bottled up all this rage and fear from the day before that I was holding onto it in my body, in my heart. I needed to let it go. I was safe now. I needed to know and believe that I was safe. I’ve never been one to live in fear, and I couldn’t be me, truly, if I ever decided to.
Afterwards, I just looked at Radha in pure amazement. I couldn’t believe how she’d known that that was exactly what I needed to do. I was so thankful, so completely grateful that she allowed me a space to release all this pent-up energy that I needed to let go of, so appreciative that she knew me so well and challenged me to leave what could have become a dangerous comfort zone under the guise of fear. She made me uncomfortable so that I could come back to myself. And I love that so much. That’s all I want from my friendships – people who help me to grow, challenge me when I need to be challenged, teach me things that I never even knew I had to learn.
Anyways, it’s getting pretty late now and I still have so much to write about – my full blown panic attack at work the following day, my double doctor’s appointments that has me closer and closer to a diagnosis and how I may be potentially starting on medication soon, and the light at the end of the tunnel that was this week in the form of the wonderful wedding I went to with Adrian where I finally met his entire family.
What I will say though, was that it was even better than I imagined. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, and I could see how important it was to Adrian that I was meeting his entire immediate family. I honestly felt so honoured that he deemed me worthy enough to “bring home” – I know it was no easy feat to decide to introduce me like that, at a family event to that scale. But more on that later. I don’t want to forget how lovely it felt to have everyone tell me how beautiful I was, how they loved my dress, even that I was “wife material”, LOL. Hehe. Not to mention, I kept up with the drinking; I took shots with his aunts a couple times!!!! His family was honestly a blast.
Yesterday was the perfect end to a very, very draining week. I feel rested, recharged, and back to myself. And tomorrow, I’m off to Niagara for a girls trip with my coworkers, and I’m so excited! Finally, it’s beginning to feel like summer. Next weekend is long weekend and Adrian and I are planning a road trip to Wasaga Beach, where we’re planning on spending the weekend there so that we can make it the most of it. Here’s to summer 2019!!
I’ll continue to write when I have to a chance to some time this week.