“Experience is the teacher of all things.” –Julius Caesar
Things change. People change. Everything changes eventually.
It started with something miniscule. A parody of my face on Drake’s body of the Take Care album received 40 likes on Facebook. I noticed how about half of the likes came from my friends in Toronto; a year ago that would’ve never been the case.
Then two days before I hopped back on my plane to Vancouver, a friend and I visited Tim Horton’s after an intensive swimming workout consisting of getting changed only to discover the pool’s available exclusively to women on Saturday afternoons
I saved us a table after ordering my hot chocolate. He came to the table with his order in one hand and a mystery bag in the other. Inside the bag was a chocolate dip donut, my favourite.
“Bon voyage,” he said as he handed me the donut.
I started to think of which friend of mine in Vancouver knows my donut preference. I drew a blank. Hell, even my mom doesn’t know what it is.
I guess what everyone was saying all along was right, in order to develop friendships in Toronto similar to the ones back home it would take time and effort.
Before flying home after exams last year, I had a week filled with engaging activities culminating in the Lakers and Raptors game. This year, I spent the time doing things I didn’t have time for during the semester; like shooting baskets for hours at time, catching a movie with a friend and reading books I actually care about.
Regardless, the night before the flight I was suffering from mild insomnia. I was petrified of going home a failure. For the second semester in a row, I underperformed academically while excelling socially. I’m still unable to find the formula to succeed in the city.
Sitting five hours on a plane not knowing how your family and friends will react to you is Chinese water torture.
It’s no man’s land, an impasse, whatever synonym you want to use. I wasn’t sure which city I belonged in anymore.
That all changed very quickly when I landed, akin to the parable of the Prodigal Son. Sure, I may have done poorly in my history course but upon arrival my family didn’t care, they were just happy to see me. Similar to how the father threw his younger son a feast when he returned home after spending his half of the inheritance, my family took me out to my favourite restaurant.
This time, last year one of my best friends since elementary school informed me of how his cousin, who goes to school in Boston, changed up his social habits when he came home for Christmas a second time.
“The first year he’d want to see everyone from high school, and as time went on he only saw his close friends,” he said.
It’s a motto that I disagreed with at first, but now I see why it’s worth adopting. Life’s not about the number of friends you have, it’s about the ones who are willing to accept me for being Laker obsessed, chocolate dip donut loving, Chinese guy. I learned the hard way this semester that not everyone can like you.
This morning my sense of failure was replaced with the familiar Gaber swagger that I’ve been searching endlessly for.
Revving up the Cube for the first time in four months while blasting Drake’s Underground Kings is a feeling that can’t be replicated anywhere but home.
Failure? Fuck it, those who think about it too much are the ones who end up doing it.