The photograph that graces this blog is one taken by an extremely talented friend Hannah Laycock. I met her during my sojourn in London that began on September 11, 2014 and ended on March 15, 2017. Then I went “home” to Canada, the land of my birth, deserted fifty years before. My return to Canada is not perhaps the best thing that ever happened to me but it has served a useful purpose. It would not be possible except for London and my Uncle Dave Dryburgh (1908-1948).
Hannah took this incredible picture of me on, and for, my birthday, May 29, 2016. It is taken at the British Museum. When I first saw it – I wept and occasionally I still do. I weep because it captures what I love about myself. I have a look of hope, of optimism that is in place despite a life marred by dreadful abuse as a child that left scars, both physically and mentally. I rather feel like a miracle child, well an old child at this point as I was born in 1943. On my good days I spread joy- living well is the best revenge. The joy I feel and spread is revenge, I know that those people who harmed me as well as their progeny and their progeny’s progeny are not joyful due to the fact that living in a state of denial is paralyzing. I no longer see or communicate with my nuclear family – I am under Doctor’s orders not to do so. I always tell the truth – well sometimes I exaggerate a little.
I moved to London on September 11, 2014 on a student visa. Terrible school as you will learn if you read the blog but it did get me to London for two and a half. This blog contains some of my experiences there, and of course Vancouver and it will continue on. That is why it is London and Beyond. I am now living in Beyond I guess. I left Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on March 31, 2019. It is an imperfect city. Pierre Burton, a Canadian intellectual, is reported to have said that Vancouver is not a great city, it is a great place for a city, but not a great city. Vancouver is corrupt – greed spoils it and in my brief time there I have managed to meet one of the most corrupt and greedy of them all. Such a talent – I do laugh and I still have a look of hope and speak joy. So there! So there! So there!
When I lived in London people met me, scratched their heads and said: “Were you always like this?” I don’t know, underneath perhaps. While there, at the Victoria and Albert Museum I met two strangers. Actually both black. The man said: Where do you get your energy? You are so creative. The woman said: what you exude is confidence. Were you always like this? I thought as I wandered about the museum, emerging at an exhibit on underwear. What is different? What is the same? I am way, way more vulnerable. I am way, way more daring and decisive. I am extremely open and opinionated. I have systematically depopulated my world of negative people and plan to keep them out of my life,. I have quite frankly been used by people, by families back home and goodness knows by people in Vancouver and several attempts have been made by Instagram ‘friends’. But I take it in stride and am happy I never have to see them in Instagram scams and see them again in real life. I laugh more, early and often. Seriously, tens, if not hundreds, of people comment on my laugh, in approving ways. I used to think I had to conquer evil but now I see that this is impossible. Evil plays dirty and the only way you can fight it is to adopt those techniques. Who wants to? All one can do is to step aside. Get out of evil’s clutches and watch them self destruct. It has been such a hard lesson to learn, and so against my nature. But the joy one feels when you step aside.and acknowledge defeat is immense. I read somewhere that admitting defeat is energizing. It is.
But there are a couple of complicating factors to the explanations for any behaviour change. I stopped taking antidepressants in April, 2015 after a sentence of about 30 years. I developed a systemic allergy to the brand I was taking. Moreover, there are often behavioral changes after major head trauma, trauma being hit by the motorcycle on September 13, 2014. I looked the wrong way when crossing a street on my second day in London. I have post traumatic flashbacks which were suppressed for years by the antidepressants. Not fun, but they do pass. Nothing much to be done about behavioural changes say doctors and psychologists. But the most transformative thing was the realization that the accident, a near fatality, was actually a near death experience. I view the world different as a result. In a good way as I live in the present.
I remain active physically, at the YWCA in Vancouver I took water aerobics which I truly loved, jumping up and down to lively and memorable music. The Y offers a sense of community and I came “full circle” After graduation from the University of Alberta in 1964, my first job was with the YWCA. It rather seems like magic. It is rather interesting but the Vancouver YWCA was the best place to meet men, the women there are, in the main, fascinating and friendly women. I learn so much from them as we got dressed and undressed in the women’s locker room.
My life is blessed in many ways. I have many professionals in my life who are able, competent, helpful, supportive and generally just wonderful. One is Chris, who is responsible for this blog. Well I do admit that I do the writing but he posts for me daily and is always there for me. Yeah Chris! We met in December of 2018 to have a business meeting and ended up discussing the success of the blog at the Rex Whistler Restaurant in the Tate Britain located in London England. We were both amazed at our numbers.
He: I pave the road. You drive the car.
Is not that a beautiful statement about the power of collaboration?
I must at some point blog about that day, May 29th, 2016 when Hannah took the picture. I have had a poster made with the picture and a quote from Albert Camus. “In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer.” It describes so perfectly the expression on my face. I weep as I write, but not tears of sorrow but tears of joy.
At this moment I am homeless living at Inn at the Opera in San Francisco, next to Marin for a week, then a week’s visit to Vancouver, then to London for an extended visit and then back to San Francisco to live. I have come full circle again. Alexis
I am reachable on Instagram: alexismctwit – do not ask me why.