Monday, 29 August 2011

Exhaustion (2 more reasons I love this city)

Ottawa is a festival town. Anyone who visits this city knows that. At any given time, there is a festival or cultural event happening in Ottawa. This is one of the main reasons I love living here. There is never a shortage of things to do or events to attend.

The only "problem" (if you can call it that) as a result of this reality is my lack of free time. The good news: I don't like having free time. The bad news: I eventually grow tired and irritated/irritating.

This past week-end was the most hectic one of the summer for me. I attended and volunteered for two festivals this past week-end : Capital Pride and the Ottawa Folk Festival.

One thing you must know about me is that I love music festivals. I have attended and voluntered for most of them. However, I had never attended the Ottawa Folk Festival before. This year, I decided to wander the city and make my way to Hogs Back to experience it first-hand. I was definitely not disapointed. The location of the festival was great: a large, green space surrounded by trees. I felt like I was outside of the city. It was very calm and serene; a great vibe for enjoying folk music.

Folkfest took place from Thursday to Sunday. I decided to attend two out of the four days of the festival, which isn't bad for my first time. Thursday evening, I had the joy of watching Hawksley Workman perform for the first time. I went with a friend of mine who has seen him live about 5 or 6 times. Now, I understand why. His performance is energetic and exciting. His voice is unbelievable. His charisma is overwhelming. His rants between songs are beyond entertaining. I am definitely happy with his performance. My only regret is that it took me this long to catch his show.

Saturday night, my partner and I went to Folkfest see an artist that we both love and respect : Tom Morello. Former guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, Morello currently plays music as The Night Watchman. I expected him to come out on stage, just him and his acoustic guitar. I was surprised that he had three other musicians with him. Although his set started 20 minutes late, I was not disapointed with his show. I was blown away, actually! I am very thankful that I was lucky enough to see Morello play live. This is an experience that I'm happy I got to share with my partner. It's a show that I know I will never forget.
When I wasn't rocking out at Folkfest, I was helping out with Capital Pride festivities. Capital Pride is another festival that I had never really participated in or attended before (other than watching the Pride Parade a few years back). This year, a friend of mine asked me to help out with an event he was organizing. Since I've been volunteering with his charity Jer's Vision for three years, I was happy to help out. So Friday, I was a chaperone at Queer Prom. This free event was aimed at queer youth and this was the first time it was held during Capital Pride. The event was a huge success! Before the doors even opened, there was a huge line-up of young people outside, waiting to get in. I am so happy that I was able to experience prom in a totally different way than I did in high school. It was so touching, seeing these kids be themselves and having fun! It was incredible.

On Sunday, the Pride Parade took place. I was walking in the parade with Jer's Vision. We were lucky enough to walk with the Ottawa Firefighters, which is exciting already. My friend Jenn and I were hanging from the firetruck during the parade, waving the people. It was so much fun! It was very touching to see the people, watching the parade, especially the young people and the families. I loved being part of the Pride Parade and promoting love, acceptance and equality.

Looking back at my eventful week-end, I am utterly exhausted. And happy.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Going Home (why do I keep doing this to myself?)

In 48 hours, I will be on my way home. I will be driving 12 hours to head back to the Maritimes, head back to my first home.

Home is an interesting concept. Where is home?

Is home back in the Maritimes, where I grew up? It would make sense, because my family is there. But it doesn't really feel like home anymore. I tend to feel anxious when I go back. I feel like a stranger in my own hometown. Maybe it's because I've been away for so long... If it's home, should I really feel so strange and uncomfortable when I'm there? And why do I keep going back and keep putting myself through this?

Since 2002, I've lived in Ottawa, an amazing city, in my humble opinion. Almost 10 years ago, I started a new life here. I followed my heart to a city that I fell in love with back when I was 13 years old. I feel like I've made a home here. No, I don't mean that I own property and or that I have a mortgage. I don't have any of those things. I have a great job, awesome friends and an amazing man in my life. All those things are here, around me every day. That definitely makes it feel like home. I've made myself a home here, in this city. Not in the space that I live in (a tiny, one bedroom basement apartment) but in this entire city.

When I go back to the Maritimes, people ask me if/when I will be moving back. I feel bad, answering this question honestly, because I have no intention of moving back. When they ask why, I find it hard to explain it to them, especially since most of them have never left their hometown. They don't understand how powerful it is to leave a small town and establish yourself in a big city. It's something that you cannot describe. When I left, I felt something that I had never felt before: freedom. Freedom to be whoever I wanted to be. Once I tasted that feeling, I knew that was it.

Despite the strange and uncomfortable feelings that come with visiting my hometown, I do go visit once a year, usually for 3 days. I have never been too close with my family but it's still nice to see them or reconnect with old friends, despite how awkward it is when you realize you have nothing in common anymore.

So here I go, back home. I sure will miss home while I'm gone.