What are you doing these days? - I've been living in beautiful Vancouver, BC since 1996. I was actually born here but we moved before I turned three and I spent the first half of my life in the US. After college, I was living in Seattle and I came up to Vancouver for a weekend and fell madly in love with the city where I was born. Lucky for me, this country was very cool about the whole cross-border migration/dual-citizenship thing... The border guard glanced over my paperwork for less than a minute before waving the 3-ton moving van through and smiling, "Welcome to Canada!" Aside from geography, I'm working in communications and marketing for a global company—I get to work from home with a wonderful team of people from all over the world, from San Diego to Buenos Aires to Johannesburg. I spend most of my free time these days doing art, making clothes and playing video games. Two years after I moved here, I met my boyfriend, Rodger. We fell madly in love and have been inseparable ever since (20 years in July—omg!).
Tandem memory that stays with you. Just one? Okay, this one stands out, but I have to preface it with an apology for bringing down the mood. It's about my classmate Janice Wright, who passed away in 1997, just six years after our graduation. She came to Tandem in our junior year and my "crew" and I made it our mission to chip away at her tough shell until we completely won her over. She became a very dear, close friend. She was a fierce conversationalist who never tired of holding and defending an unpopular opinion against everyone else in the room. She used to say she wanted to be a stock broker—at Tandem. (Unless things have changed a lot in the intervening years, this fact alone will paint a picture!) You couldn't change her mind, but she respected anyone who could hold their own in a debate and if you managed to make her think about an issue differently, using logic and reason, she would eventually admit that you had a point. This probably sounds weird to anyone who didn't know her, but you didn't have to know her long before you saw how sensitive and caring she could be, and that contrast was utterly endearing.
One day in our senior year, the entire school took a trip to a lake. I was sunbathing on the pier and Janice had been threatening to pick me up and drop me in the water all day, so when I heard her suddenly yell, "Duck!" and opened my eyes to see her sprinting towards the end of the pier, I panicked. But this time I wasn't the target of her attention. She sped past me and lunged out over the edge of the pier, reaching for something in the water. A mallard duck was swimming by—minding his own business as it were—and she intercepted him with an agility that astonished me, grasping him about the neck and plucking him out of the water in one smooth motion. Before I could sputter a word of protest or caution—and before he could mount a counterattack with his considerable wings—she had flipped him on his back and into her lap. She was now sitting cross-legged, petting his stomach feathers and whispering softly, "You're a good duck... you're a nice duck," and they remained like that for several surreal minutes. The whole episode was probably nerve-wracking for the handful of hardcore vegans who witnessed the interception and were terrified that Janice had ill intentions for the duck, but that was probably the calmest I ever saw her. This outspoken, exhausting bundle of redheaded contradictions—sitting there like a Tibetan monk with a hypnotized duck in her lap. She was full of surprises and not all of them were tragic.