The Journey Begins

Why I’m In Victoria Part 2

I arrived in Victoria the night before classes were going to begin.

It was night when I drove up to the house that was to be my home for the 4 months it took to finish the pre-requisites for the masters of counselling program. The landlord Dave was waiting outside for me — how long he was standing out there I have no idea — but this mystery became only one of the strange quirks that came with living in Dave’s home.

I’d been talking to Dave all summer over the phone. He’d put an ad online for a renter and our subsequent conversations had all followed a similar script; I’d be frantically telling him that I wanted the room, he’d respond that I should come see the place in person first to make sure I like it. “Dave,” I told him multiple times, “If this doesn’t work out I’ll be sleeping in my car! Believe me, if you are offering me something that can pass as a shelter I will take it.”

“Well I just want to make sure you’ll like it.”

“Dave! I accept. I will take it. I’ll stay in the room. What else do you need to hear? I. Would. Like. To. Live. In. The. Room.”

“It’s on the second floor and you can see the bus stop — ”

“ — from the window I know! I’ll take it!”

Eventually Dave gave in and I had a place to move to. And as the summer ended I packed my car up and headed off to the west coast to begin the next chapter of my life.

This next period feels like the part of the novel that usually gets skipped over (unless you’re Tolkien and find the need to describe each step those Hobbits took). This is where the heroes realize there’s no more indoor plumbing, that they’ll have to hunt for food the old fashioned way and that their shoes are not good enough by a long shot. The reason this is often skipped (or made into a montage) is because soon these challenges become routine. The heroes overcome them without too much hardship or growth. It is only when they are comfortable with these challenges that they are forced to look up and find out if they are still headed towards Mount Doom or not.

By the time I looked up I’d gone a bit off course. To keep the Tolkien analogy going it was sort of if I had followed Pippin and Merry on their adventures to the forest of the Ents — even though it was still intense they got to hang out with living trees, which looks way more fun than Frodo and Sam’s.

Yes, I had become comfortable. I had grown used to the challenge of school. Sure the classes were tough, but it was a toughness I was used to. I became a full-time student, my only worries being when the next assignment was due, trying to figure out how adults make friends, and where I could find the cheapest groceries. I was busy and I was content in that busyness. But there remained nagging reminders that Victoria was merely a stepping stone on my journey to find my true purpose in life. (Which was apparently to be a logotherapist)

One such temporal reminder was my living condition. Dave’s welcome had been warm, but after that things had gotten… weird. Being around Dave felt a bit like living with Gollum. Conversations with him were tense and full of subtext that even now remains a mystery. If I had to guess I’d say that for some reason Dave didn’t really like me. Much like Gollum, Dave would go out of his way to help me but then would start coughing and talking to himself in an evil voice when I turned away. And yes, I’m being a bit dramatic, but the underlying tension that ran through the house was so tangible you could taste it (sort of like a metallic mold taste) and thus I tried not to hang out at home.

Another reminder of the impeding temporariness was the dreaded application for Grad School. This for me was the true Mount Doom, the reason I had set out from home in the first place. For the most part I could ignore this ominous mountain range, telling myself I need to focus on my grades and volunteering, which was true, but occasionally their peaks would break through the clouds of my deliberate ignorance. When this happened I would know that soon it would be time to make the decision that would decide a large portion of my future… but each time I told myself it could always wait a few more days, after all I had until December to figure things out.

Anyways, I was busy. Most of my time was spent worrying about girls and Dave’s stupid house and school and friends. Which was nice because they were all comfortable things to worry about.

And everything was great!… Until one fateful day when a ‘dialogue’ between Dave and I made it clear that it was time to find a new place to live.

Suddenly I was forced to look up from the struggles of daily life and seriously decide if I was going to stay in Victoria or not. Was I going to follow the fun hobbits or the serious hobbits?

And so it was a lovely afternoon in November that I found myself packing my stuff into my car, without a home, two weeks before I had to start applying for grad schools, the peak of Mount Doom looming before me.

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