001 | i’m not okay.

The summer of 2002, my cousin Sarah and I were 17-year old losers at life, heading off to undergrad. Her with a streak of “bad behaviour” (smoking, drinking, loitering), me with undiagnosed and neglected depression (wait, that might have been both of us…) and a strong case of too-shy-to-live-life. It was during a family dinner party (otherwise known as a “dawat” to the South Asian kids) that I let out the secret that for the past few months… I had been writing a *gasp* blog. Shhh.

Sarah being Sarah, got me to let her read it. And my heart swelled when this cousin of mine, too cool for school– too smart for school, really– enjoyed my thoughts, my writing, my humour, and even my topics. I think one of them was about Olympic diver Alexander Despatie. The swimmer bod, what can I say. The larger point of interest for me might have actually been the Olympics. His sweet shaggy boyband hairstyle was just a nice touch in the utopia landscape of long-term dreams being actualized.

So off we went with this secret online portal opened up to us, linking us forever onwards. She to the University of Toronto, me to Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. We shifted over to the Xanga blogging platform (RIP) and thus became daily bloggers, catching up on the exciting mundane of each others’ lonely lives. Her charisma and long-honed skills as a loiterer had prepared her to make conversation with any person she stood next to. I, however, struggled greatly. Lacking an interest in pub crawls despite my fake ID procured by my most innocent-seeming friends (to parents; a hijab doesn’t make you blind to how to the world operates for a 17yr-old surrounded by 19yr-olds), I mostly kept to myself and volunteered at the campus health resource centre. Please attempt to string together a more heartbreaking image. Not even the campus clinic. The health resource centre. Future Coachella attendees attempting vegetarianism for the first time somehow located the weird turn into the hidden entrance to our office and wandered in for generic pamphlets and appointments with an occasionally on-site nutritionist. The cool kids freaking out over STI’s rightly took their misinformed butts up to the actual clinic staffed by real medical professionals.

But through this all, I had my person. Through our blogs, texts, that new-fangled The Facebook thing, MS Paint collabs, mailed correspondences in code (have you ever written out English in Russian characters?), random trips to each other, 8+ hours on the phone overnight watching the latest Alias episode torrents microscopically-slowly download to our computers (uni kids didn’t budget for cable)… she was mine, I was hers. And we never let up. Props to that first Blogroll blog of mine for our sweet lil’ meetcute that transitioned us from cousins to BFFs/partners/twins.

The stuff I didn’t think I’d get around to thinking about for at least another thirty years.

We lost her five months ago. December 6, 2020 is when we all got the call through our family telephone tree. My brother got to tell me. He got to tell me that the person who has been the longest relationship of my life (so far), the most meaningful (so far), over half of my life (so far), the most impactful. Yea, that person, is gone. My partner doesn’t exist on this earth anymore.

Of course this intro here to Sarah is only the beginning of everything, but it’s also a start towards laying it out there: That I’m not okay. It’s fitting that my Sars left during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not due to covid. I guess. It’d be funny and incredibly interesting to her. Maybe we shouldn’t have given her that nickname on that cousins’ Montreal road trip during the SARS pandemic in Toronto.

It’s five months down the road and it’s only now in mid/late-April that I even remotely feel like I can take a full deep breath of air and not feel like I’m attempting to stand up straight on a crumbling shaky foundation. But not always. My brain doesn’t really get how life just ends at 35 despite knowing that people die all the time. Why I’m supposed to just carry onwards with the rest of my life when I’m still floundering here. Why I shouldn’t just cash out my RRSP and go nuts until there’s nothing left to lose. Therapy’s helping bit by bit to get me to open up and process. Talking about Sarah helps. Holding her things helps. And sometimes I really like zoning off to think about moments with her. The stuff I didn’t think I’d get around to thinking about for at least another thirty years. She was really fun and incredibly special. Her generosity, enthusiasm, her ferocious attack on living life to her own standards. I’ll forever be in awe of this force I got to call my own person. All thanks to a dumb blog with lime green headings.

So, here I go again.

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