It’s 2002. I have just moved to Commercial Drive and into a run-down, mildewy, mini apartment complex full of seemingly cool women, just right down the alley from Grandview Park.
I am 25 and clinging to ideas of finishing my college education. I live with my roommate who hosts Filipino indigenous dance and drumming practice four times a week in our basement suite with a bunch of non-indigenous white dudes who want in her pants. But, that’s another blog.
I’m buying groceries at Santa Barbara’s when I see Katie from apartment 5.
“We’re having a potluck tonight. Everyone is welcome!”
Knowing nothing of a family crest and having no buttons to sew on a blanket, I ask her what a potluck is.
“Just come at six and bring anything to contribute,”
I count the four flights of stairs in my mind, examine the squishy white buns in my hand and reluctantly agree to join the mishmash of strangers in her apartment.
I have just finished a computer science course and am teeming with ideas for how to best schedule crying during each exam. The ten or so guests at the dinner think my pain is hilarious and suddenly strangers make for a warm and welcome audience.
Katie laughs the loudest and the proudest and we bond instantly.
These dinners continue every Sunday and are responsible for all the bonding in our building. Soon, we are all going for breakfast together on the Drive. Nine strong, mostly single ladies with a lot of confidence and a lot of laughter, we become known as the Witches of Woodland.
If you take responsibility for your thoughts and experiences, if you are positive and happy for others, if you want to lay in bed and watch season after season of Sopranos, then you are a witch too.
It took me five years to get a two year degree, but man did we laugh.
The potlucks ended in 2005, when the attendees were reduced to a bunch of creepy dudes who wanted in allll of our pants.
Then, two years ago, Katie moved back to her dad’s farm in Central Saanich to be his power-of-attorney in his time of need. My parents are like 30 years younger than Sandy and still act like they don’t want/need a power of attorney, no matter how many times I mention it, so I have a hard time relating.
I am an East-Van loving, city girl who couldn’t imagine living on an island so far removed from the mainland.
Then, one painful breakup and one school board contract ending later, I decide on my 37th birthday to move to the island to be a student assistant for their school boards and maybe finish my education. Six months and one over-priced bachelor suite with no stove later, Katie proposes I move to the farm and help her with the care-giving of her father.
The country! Closer to the ferry but further from the graffiti I recognize as home. In addition, I would also be renovating the basement. I do love projects!
Thankfully, my new boyfriend, Patrick, is a butcher, a builder AND a candlestick maker. Actually, he’s a fisherman, but he could probably make candles if he had to.
New chapters all around! Now, Katie can spend more time on the mainland with her fiance and I can play the feminist Laura Ingalls who prefers the gym over milking cows.
Katie has asked me to be a guest blogger on her Morbid Optimist column. I have a hard time committing to my own blog, but will gladly be an inconsistent presence in somebody else’s.
Plus, I love Katie.
“There’s a place for women like you,”
“Yeah, it’s called your farm. I just finished the posters!”