Book Excerpt: Starting Over

Starting over at 34 is a daunting experience.

My alarm rang at 4:30 the Tuesday morning after Labour Day. I drank some coffee, ate a little breakfast, and mentally ran through everything I had packed in my oversized magenta pink duffle bag. Tent? Check. Sleeping bag? Check. Clothes for the week? Check. Nerves? Check. Why am I here and not at home in Toronto tucked comfortably in my bed with Russ? At 6:30 I turned off the lights in my little cottage at the end of my landlady’s driveway, locked the door, and started walking down Peter Street towards the college. I struggled to find a comfortable way to carry the duffle down the hill. Why didn’t I pack my brand new 85-liter backpack? Part of me felt silly about the size of the backpack. Part of me clung to the comfort of my well-loved, brightly colored duffle bag. I started wishing I could roll down the hill, like I used to do as a kid in our front yard.

A hint of dawn played along the line of the horizon as I arrived at school. I scanned the faces in the pre-dawn darkness, hoping I might find someone I’d met the Friday before. I didn’t. It didn’t matter. My anxiety levels left me with no desire to chit-chat. The crowd grew. With each arriving student I felt older, tenser, and more out of place. Soon we were a mess of one hundred and fifty sets of nerves, excitement, and sleepiness. Two years and two programs worth of outdoor adventure students were waiting for the yellow school buses to whisk us off to whitewater rafting company and Algonquin College partner, Wilderness Tours (WT), for four days of skills building and getting to know one another.

By five to seven, I really needed to pee. My nerves and the coffee were getting the better of me. I jiggled the door. The school was locked tight. One of the early-bird automotive students took pity on me and let me into the building. When I came back out four buses were parked on the street. We loaded all of our bags into one bus and then rushed onto the remaining three for the forty-five minute ride.

I’m writing a career change memoir and I’d love your feedback as I post small ~300 word blurbs. What do you want to know more about? What works for you? What doesn’t work for you? Comment below or e-mail me.

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