What makes me, me? Some people would probably point to the few diplomas scattered around my walls. Or, maybe they would point to a handful of ROEs or unfiled student tax forms. I think this would be missing the point.
I think for me it all goes back to the smells of old mildewed paper, gasoline, wet clay, and vinyl. My earliest memories go back to living in my grandparents house as a child. A crowd of us lived and gathered there early on. My grandparents, my parents, an uncle, and sometimes an aunt, as well as a constant stream of personalities. It was a stupendous house that allowed for us all to have our own space, but I would be glued to someone at all times, always by choice. I spent mornings in the garage or shed, afternoons in a garden, supper discussing history, evenings in a workroom, and nights listening to music and creating. On top of this, our guests were of a different breed: authors, painters, commentators, all known and respected in their fields. All of these people would come to form the person who writes this. And for this upbringing, I know that I am blessed.
I spent a lot of time under cars tightening bolts on an old VW’s fender as my grandfather or uncle tinkered with an engine or something of the like. I remember the sounds of metal on metal, metal on wood, and the tightening of ropes as they ran through my grandfather’s elaborate system of pulleys. At a young age I was obsessed with building. Of course with little skill, I produced a plethora of crosses by nailing every couple of boards I could find together; I believe this may have been to everyone’s chagrin. I am sure a lot of materials were confiscated in those days.
An equal amount of time was spent drawing and listening to music. My uncle and father always wanted to show me a new band, album, or song. Most of our time didn’t come across as the supervision of a young menace, at least not to me. Instead, it felt like two friends, or brothers as my uncle would say later, hanging out. I remember the smell of tobacco—this was a different time—as Mean Mr. Mustard blasted through a set of tower speakers. I would often be woken late at night by a father who was excited to show his oldest an amazing concert: Eddie Van Halen ripping solos at what felt like 2AM. This is how I met my first love—cliche, but true—guitar.
The off times were filled with reading and writing. I loved talking about books and learning about them, especially their authors. If they were friends of the family, even better. I was enamored with how someone could paint such arresting images and ideas through small black text on a white page. I can’t quite recall when, it just sort of happened, I began to write poetry. It was from a young age, and I have yet to stop. I loved telling stories in person, and I eventually realized that I could also tell them through writing. I became addicted to the feel of ink on paper; a feeling that is euphoric to me still to this day.
As I aged, the foundation remained, but I developed another love: food. I discovered a delight in cooking that I had not known. There is affection about the pressure of time, the smell of spices, the subtle flavours, and the decorum that comes together to form something necessary to our survival that I became addicted too. Cooking became a new outlet of expression for me. The creation of a dish is a mixture of ecstatic and aesthetic all into one.
It is not the diplomas, ROEs, half finished projects, or food stained aprons that define me. It is a love for art, community, creating, and self expression; these amalgamate into the foundation that forms who I was, who I am, and who I will be. Even without those papers stacked by my dresser, I would still be me.