You may or may not know this about me, but my primary love language is quality time. Spending time with people I care about, whether on some epic adventure or doing nothing at all, is how I best express my love to others, and feel loved in return. It means a lot to me to not just be with someone, but be “present:” focused on one another and whatever we’re doing or talking about, not distracted by the TV or constantly checking our phones. It hurts me when I can’t spend time with people I care about, and when people I care about can’t or don’t spend time with me.
Now, ignoring the present pandemic for a moment, as I am a traveller and tour guide, you may think “but Janelle, you’re never around!” In some ways that’s true, and that is also what one of the more difficult parts of tour guiding for me has been. However, it makes the in-person time I do get to spend with people that much more meaningful.
Furthermore, getting the opportunity to spend quality time with friends around the country and the world is one of my biggest motivators for travel. I once rode my motorcycle the entire way from Vancouver to California to spend a couple of hours with a cherished friend (yes, I also did it for the ride and the adventure, but honouring a promise to visit that friend was my primary purpose). On most of my trips over the last few years I’ve chosen to return to places I’ve already been, such as the Okanagan/Shuswap in BC, Ottawa/Toronto/PEI out east, and New Zealand/Australia internationally, rather than exploring new unknowns.
Because “I have people” there.
After my marriage apocalypse in Ottawa and my adventure therapy trip to New Zealand and Australia, it became clear that after seven years “away” it was time to move back to Vancouver. Because “I have people” here, people who I’ve known for the longest time, people who can help re-ground and re-build me.
I love nothing more than “having people” and getting to spend time with them, and if it includes an adventure of some sort – whether it’s a trip across the world or a trip to the park down the street – even better.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of my job in tourism, I don’t get to spend nearly as much time as I’d like with my people. I have made a concerted effort to invest in community with friends old and new here. To plan events and get people together.
It hasn’t always been easy: “old” friends have their own new lives and spouses and children and friends, and “new” friends often do as well. The core friend groups I used to rely on have largely drifted apart. Events I try to plan seem to have less and less attendees than they once did, and more and more last minute dropouts. I end up feeling like I know a lot of people, but am not much more than a fringe friend to most.
I try to look on the bright side, try to be thankful for the people who do “show up” for me rather than lament the ones who don’t or can’t. I try to be the sort of friend who “shows up” for others and looks out for people who might feel on the fringes as I sometimes do. I’m not always the best at this: keyword here is “try.”
In spite of the challenges, I’ve finally started to feel the hard-won foundations of community forming in my new, or re-newed, Vancouver life.
Enter… the pandemic.
Of course this is a difficult time for all of us for a whole host of reasons. The most difficult part for me has not been, as many people have assumed and commented, that I can’t travel like I normally do, or even that I can’t do my regular work in tourism. One of the silver linings for me has actually been getting to stay in one place for awhile, getting to wake up in my own bed every day, having the opportunity to focus on “being” over “doing.” The most difficult part has actually been the lack of in-person friendship, togetherness, community, and quality time. The reality is that as a single person and a “fringe friend” living at a fair distance from my family, I’m not really in anyone’s bubble but my own.
My birthday is a week away and normally at this point I’d be preparing for some epic themed event: wine & cheese, board game extravaganza, east-coast-style lobster boil (that was the dream for this year pre-covid). Getting excited to see all my people and hoping that even though I’m an adult now maybe I’ll still get a surprise present or two (which is, by the way, my love language numéro deux). This year I’m feeling, well, pretty much like this:
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Well, it’s a confession, do I need more reason than that? “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to!” But also, I believe that “real talk” and honesty is so incredibly important, especially in times like these where we are all struggling, with varying degrees of success or failure at coping in the midst of it all, so this vulnerable honesty is my gift to you.
I don’t want you to worry too much or think that I’m in some dire, dark place. I’m an eternal optimist – it’s my superpower – and “all things considered” I’m doing pretty okay. But I will be more okay if I know you took the time to read this. Leave a comment below and let me know you were spending “quality time” with my words here. If you want, let me know how you’re doing too. (If you’re local, I’m always up for a socially-distanced park beer *ahem* I mean apple juice 😉 ).
I love you, and I miss you, and whether you’re a long-time friend/family member or you’re just passing by this blog on a journey through the interwebs, or anywhere in between, I appreciate you. Thank you for being here ❤️
p.s. Did I mention my second love language is presents? 😁 You can buy me a coffee (or ten) here if you like…