Off-Limits

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I am from the second biggest city in Canada, and yet it often feels like a village.
Many people I know (including my best friends) become friends after a while, even if they used to evolve in different circles, and many people also date or sleep with each other.
It becomes normal to know so-and-so’s ex-boyfriend and some of the people they slept with.
It’s not only like that for others though, it’s also like that for me and my good friends, and sometimes the burden becomes heavy and the past remains too present.

Last weekend, I went to a house party at some guy friend’s place. There is one that I used to date, but we are just friends now.
The night of the party, I was getting back from my best friend’s place in the countryside. We had just spent two days without electricity under bad weather conditions.
I came back to Montreal on a rainy evening, but that wasn’t going to stop me from going out.
I wore my best weather-appropriate outfit (no easy feat, considering that I had only brought one pair of pants). I was in the mood to meet new boys that I could have some good conversations and some fun with. Hey, that’s also what vacation is for when you’re single. (Summer Lovin’, anyone?)

I arrived at the apartment early to catch up with my friends, discussing my life in Ontario and theirs in Montreal, talking blogs, art and life. The boys all commented favourably on my shoes and one of them looked at me from head to toe. ”Nice outfit,” he said. I was beaming from the compliments: it is quite rare and always lovely when men comment clothes. I was happy to come early so I could chill with the boys before people came in droves. And boy they did. A couple of people at first, and then the apartment got packed. The little yard was filled with various kinds of hipsters, some with beards, some with caps, some with side ponytails. There were some people I knew, some I barely did, and some I didn’t. But as my friend said the next day, I am a social warrior. So once again, I tried to talk to everyone, remember their names, and make an effort to hold a conversation. But that being said, sometimes socializing completely exhausts me.

I was feeling a little bit under the weather because of the evening’s dampness and the effort require to socialize with strangers. That night, I was constantly looking around for a beautiful boy to meet, and it was starting to make me dizzy. It was around then that I started talking to a very tall and handsome boy, coincidentally a good friend of my friends. We talked for a long time and the more we did, the more he was becoming someone I could actually picture myself with beyond one night. He was talking to me, and I was saying: ”you’re right” after he spoke, agreeing on his vision of things. He is a screenwriter. Like me, writing is his daily bread. He is also lanky and an introvert, traits that I have found endearing in boys since high school. Because I am outgoing and outrageous, I need a man to calm me down and hold me tight.

I wanted to offer him a beer, but somebody stole the two left, and so we shared a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
We went outside to smoke a joint, one that I had kept safe inside of my wallet, waiting for a good moment.
I got my bag from my friend’s room and went outside. We smoked, and then I tried harder to seduce him. I approached his face and kissed him close to the lips. Nothing happened. I backed off, puzzled.
”What’s up?”
”Nothing.”
”I’m sorry.”
”It’s OK.”
”Why don’t you respond?”

He told me that he was too close with the other guys and so he could not do anything with me.
”What are you talking about? I’m done dating this guy, we are only friends and the other guy, nothing ever happened, we are just friends!” He didn’t wince, but rather tried to explain.
Just to confirm the fact, I asked: ”so you’re kind of off-limits?”
”Yeah.”
He kept talking to me, but I was mad, sad and heartbroken. I left right then and there. I was walking fast and probably not in a straight line.

A few blocks down the road, I heard my name. Two of my favourite theatre buddies were on the other side of the street. We were very excited to be seeing each other again. We hugged, we laughed. It’d been a while. They told me that another friend was having another party, and it happened to be on my way home. I stopped for a few minutes, seeing one my best gay friends and making a new one. I left with a renewed sense of happiness and wholeness.

I was walking home when I saw newspapers already delivered on stoops. I took one, thinking that it would make my dad happy. He always goes out on Sunday mornings and buys it. It was 4: 30 a.m. when I made it home. I left the paper on the table and I went to bed. My dad was very surprised when he first woke up at 6 and saw the paper delivered to his table.

The next day, I went to yoga to feel alive again and then back to my friend’s place to grab my forgotten umbrella. We chilled outside, we listened to music, we shared poutine. I realized how happy I was to have him in my life. We decided to go out to the park with his other roommate to meet other people. My best friend came to meet us there with a dog she is looking after. We all went for coffee on an outdoor terrace. The light was beautiful and their presence was calming. When we were ready to go, the boys went home and me and my BFF walked in the opposite direction. Finally, I could tell her the story, and it felt incredibly liberating.

Upon hearing it, she said:”it must have been terribly awkward.”
”It was fucking awkward,” I answered.
”What can I do?”
”Nothing,” she said.
”I know,” I sighed.

She has also destroyed relationships because of sex and touch and many other of my friends have. Last year, two of my best girl friends slept with somebody I had previously slept with (one an ex-boyfriend). It did hurt a lot, and I felt like I was replaceable. Upon talking with my friend, I realized that maybe it was the best thing that nothing happened. I usually go with the line ”bros before hoes” anyway, and it sums up the ”best” way to react to the situation, although it’s more complicated than that. This story generated good conversations with my best friends. Many of us are fed up of being limited by our past or our social circles. Many of us are also fed up with dating people that are bad for us, and want to find that special person by expanding horizons. But it also underlined once again that friends are the most important, really.

Another of my best friends met her long-time boyfriend on the Internet in order to break the vicious circle of people-that-know-people.
Yesterday, I was coming back from their place with friends.
I told them what happened.
My guy friend said: ”I am especially wondering what he said to his friend so that he would reject you like that.”

I’m still wondering what my friend said to my late-night crush in the course of their friendship. I’m still wondering if I’ll ever make the guy that rejected me change his mind.
I doubt it. I know that I have to move on. Still, rejection is though.
I was hurt in many ways (it was especially hard on my ego), but hey, it won’t be the first time.
I’d rather keep my friends than my pride.

Lili Monette is a multidisciplinary entertainer and writer, and the Montreal editor of Blonde. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre & Development from Concordia University and is currently a student in the Master of Arts in Journalism program at the University of Western Ontario.

Photo: from i-D Magazine’s archives. Model: Lily Cole.

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February 25th

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I just turned twenty-five on February 25th, which makes it my lucky year. As a younger version of myself, I always liked to look forward to the future. By twenty-five, I thought I’d be internationally rich and famous. It didn’t happen quite yet, but that doesn’t mean that many of my dreams did not come true or that I have no future. Quite to the contrary, I feel like I’ve achieved something, making it to twenty-five healthy, happy and driven. On February 25th, I got ”happy birthday” messages from all around the world. I had ”alles gutte”, ”feliz cumplenos” and ”bonne fête”. It made me feel like an incredibly lucky lady, someone who loves others and is loved back, someone who has her place in this crazy international world.

Every year, my birthday arrives at the end of an infinite winter, like a lighthouse in a stormy sea. My best friend Olivier told me that each year, he awaits for my birthday to come around since it’s ‘‘the end of the darkness’’, the dead end of winter, the last few weeks of sub-zero temperatures.

My birthday matters a lot to me because every year, it is an occasion to have a celebratory ritual about being born into the world. Most importantly, it is a time when I feel particularly grateful for all the love in my life. Like New Years, it is a time to stop and think, but also to open my eyes and to stop taking things for granted (something I’m constantly working on).

Every year, I have diner with my family as well as a party with my friends. For diner, I have excellent food with my close-knit family, either at the restaurant or at home, and for my party, I always make a point of dressing up, dancing and throwing a get-together with some of my most fabulous friends.

My parties are kind of legendary and they are always thematic. I had a ”bring me a surprise” themed party for my twenty-second birthday. The picture above was taken by Olivier at my twenty-third anniversary. The theme was ”Southern”. Boys came up wearing Hawaiian shirts, my best friend Gab dressed head-to-toe in yellow (she was the sun) and I was sporting short-shorts, a tropical top and platforms the whole night (and that ubiquitous vintage Parasuco rocker coat, a gift from Olivier). It was a great night, and I was happy to be dancing with people I love, popping bottles open, having a blast and not giving a care in the world.

This year, the theme was ”child’s birthdays” but I ended up wearing sequins (obviously!). My birthday party was happening at my friend Vanessa’s place this year, as my tiny apartment can’t hold more than ten people at a time.

I took the metro to get there. I was at the central station, Berri-UQAM, to switch lines eastward when I came face-to-face with Olivier. The metro stopped for a minute. I boarded the train while he exited. He quickly realized: ”wait! I’ll give you your gift!”, and then proceeded to take out a rolled photography out of his bag to give it to me. As the train departed, I unrolled it and smiled: it was a detail of the very picture one can observe above.

Arrived at Vanessa’s place after running some errands and having coffee with my mom, I was already running out of time to decorate the whole space. Luckily, her sister was there and two other friends who live at a stone’s throw also came to help out. We decorated the whole apartment, sticking curling ribbons on the ceiling with the help of a stepladder. We started drinking wine in the meantime, then had a delicious vegan diner.

In the back room, we danced crazily to rock and roll, gave each others hugs and chatted a ton. In the front room, there was a blue light and white paper on the walls. My friend wrote a note encouraging people to draw on them. As the night unveiled, many made their way to the drawing corner. 

The next morning, I had a plethora of drawings to collect before departing, a reassuring reminder of my friends’ love, creativity and sense of humour. 

Even if parties are different from year to year , every time it is a moment to fall in love with myself again and with the simple fact of being alive. Days are getting longer, winter is soon to be over, but this won’t be an infinite winter. It’s my lucky year after all.

Lili Monette is a multi-disciplinary entertainer and writer, and the Montreal editor of Blonde. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre & Development from Concordia University and is still somewhat studying. 

Photo: Iconographie by Olivier Gariépy. A picture of me exactly two years ago, on my twenty-third birthday. http://ogariepy.tumblr.com/

A Canadiana Christmas & A Happy New Start

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In the month of November of my seventeenth year, I left the Canadian metropolis of Montreal to go inhabit the lunar landscapes of Northern Alberta. My knack for adventure had propelled me to subscribe to a youth program where locations were picked for the participants after their acceptance into the program, which was aimed at a bunch of 17 to 21 years old who were about to live three months in three different Canadian locations for a total of nine months. It was not the first time that I ever left home without any family, but this time, it was about to be a long and far-flung adventure, and anything seemed possible. At the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, I instantly recognized two girls from the same program as me because of their badges sewn onto their backpacks and tuques, and so the three of us embarked on our first flight of the day together. We landed in the snow in Calgary, quickly grabbed a coffee and boarded another plane to Grande Prairie. The plane was noticeably smaller that its predecessor, and its passengers consisted almost exclusively of fellow young participants and their accompanying authority figures. We talked, laughed and interviewed each other. Me and the girls even did rounds to get a view from the window. Of course, we were a very excited bunch, deserting our hometowns, starting ourselves anew. It was the beginning of what already seemed like a year-long summer camp for late teens.

We arrived in Grande Prairie at night in the tiniest airport, one without chain stores, long corridors or hundreds of people. Instead, the airport consisted of one huge room and a snack bar atop a mezzanine. There were now about thirty to forty participants hanging out there, clustered on leather seats in the common public space next to the greasy spoon. The bunch of young folks, waiting to depart to their respective destinations, was sprawled in different directions, speaking French or English, and more rarely both. One of the purposes of the program was that the participants would become bilingual by the end of it, which was bound to happen, but as nerves were sensitive and travel exhaustion felt, most people kept to themselves.

A couple of minutes later, I embarked on a couple of charter buses and, while the first group was dropped in Grande Prairie, mine stopped at Falher and the other group was bound to settle in Peace River. The first thing that really hit me was the lack of light: there was not a single spot in sight in the few hours of bus after Grande Prairie. The only lights came from oil tanks at the side of the road and even more rarely from garages and convenience stores. The moment was quiet and kind of scary. I felt like I was about to live in the middle of nowhere (which wasn’t that far from the truth, come to think of it), while also feeling incredibly tiny in the infinite land.

We finally made it at the house, bleary-eyed, and were divided into three different rooms: three girls in two rooms, and the boys downstairs. The beds, made of white-painted metal, were noisy and uncomfortable. We were just about to start our own family in this house as we got accustomed to live together in it, doing various volunteer jobs during the day, and coming back at night. There were always a team of two that had to clean the house and make food daily, and we even learned how to bake our own bread.

The times were the most joyful with the group. There wasn’t a city to discover, and that helped us to bond. We were always playing in the snow like there was no tomorrow: having snow fights, making angels in the snow, going for walks. At one point, we even witnessed white and green Northern lights on a nightly walk. The sky was gigantic in proportion to the flat land and the connection to it was primordial in a way that doesn’t happen when surrounded by tall buildings.  The sense of space was all-encompassing, as if the sky could dictate our moods and lifestyle.

The program was a moment of togetherness, despite our differences of language, culture and hometown. We were always traveling in a mini van, doing various activities such as swimming or thrift-store shopping. Alas, the summer camp for late teens also came with a downside and its share of boredom:  the volunteer work I was doing involved too much time spent on MSN chatting with my friends back home and not enough time being challenged.

I learned to become happy in everyday life, with such small events as coffee breaks with fellow coworkers, but my gut was telling me that I needed to get out. As days went by, I realized that although I loved the group, I didn’t like how the organization was ruling our lives. I increasingly started feeling like an inmate living by strict regulations instead of living a grand adventure. I thus announced my departure and then, two days before Christmas, I was officially kicked out of the program. Luckily, I was taken under the wings of my lovely coworker, Yvonne, who had the same age as my dad’s but was already a grandmother many times over. Yvonne and her retiree husband’s André lived in huge house and they even had prepared a plush guest room for me. After sleeping on a bunk bed for weeks, the queen-sized bed felt like a dream.

I spent Christmas Eve with the couple’s family: their children and grandchildren came along for an evening of fun, gift-giving and card-playing. The whole family made me feel more than welcome, and it was the best gift I could have received that year, miles from home. It was another kind of Canadiana Christmas, not the typical Québécois one I was used to, but still one where food was abundant (there was a chocolate fountain!) and laughs galore.

On Christmas day, I returned to the group’s house to hang out with everyone. It was beyond frozen, and energies at the house were low as we watched movie after movie. I felt a tinge of melancholia as I saw the group together for the last time, while simultaneously feeling ready to face loneliness, challenges, and independence.

On December 26th, around 5 AM, Yvonne dropped me to the bus stop, direction Edmonton, where I had a plane to catch. I was so lucky that, when transferring my ticket booked by the organization to my hometown, an engaging young man decided to give me a first-class seat, with the explanation: ”it’s Christmas, right?”. In the bus, sunrise was starting to work its magic. For the last time, I got completely immersed in the boundless landscapes of the Northern part of the province.

I made it to the airport, and it was the first time that I was boarding a plane on my own. I remember writing in my notebook, sitting in the luxury lounge, feeling so many emotions at once, something that was to become frequent in following trips. The plane ride was short and sweet, under an hour and a half and filled with fresh coffee, crudités, the Vancouver Sun and a warm towel to watch my hands. I felt like I was becoming a grown-up.

I arrived in Vancouver in a overcrowded airport, and got picked up by a friend of my mother’s, who lived there since years. That night, at his place in the suburbs, I went to sleep with a smile on my face, proud of such a huge change in a matter of days. The next morning, I woke up at dawn armed and ready with a considerable pile of CVs. I walked outside, looked at the lush West Coast vegetation, embarked on a bus and went on exploring. It was a brand new day,Vancouver was just about to be discovered and I was learning (somewhat intensely) how to be a grown-up.

Lili Monette is a born-and-raised Montrealer and an artist by DNA and by choice. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre and Development from Concordia University and can be found around the world entertaining people and gathering stories.

Fall’s Phantoms (Win Some, Lose Some)

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We go through different phases in life. I believe in astrology, which I’m aware some people might find totally foolish. I’m not one hundred per cent sold on everything astrology tells me, but generally, I believe it explains a lot of the emotional upheavals people are going through and where they are situated in the sentimental calendar. I was reading an interview with Katy Perry in Elle Canada yesterday, and it totally synced with my current state-of-mind.

‘’I don’t know much about planetary phases, but I looked it up. In fact, the Saturn return is described as a bracing cosmic wake-up call, when youth’s charms fall away to reveal adulthood’s sobering realities. I think it’s a very important time, when you kind of let go of childish things and accept the wisdom that comes with age, ‘’ she explains. ‘’That’s where I am now’’’ (p. 123)**.

Word. I felt exactly at the same place right then, as things are moving quickly, dissolving and reforming under a more adult perspective. There has been a lot of change in my life this year: I graduated from university, I was employed at new jobs, moved to a new apartment by myself, and started yet again another school. Right now it’s pretty much autumn and while I do enjoy crispy leaves, it is a period of the year where I always feel reminiscent. The topics of nature, identity, phantoms, costumes and the dead come back every year, like haunting thematic musings. In 2013, I met a heap of new people, rekindled old friendships, and stayed true to my old friends. As I usually keep my friends forever, I got confused and frustrated recently when I lost a friend. She didn’t die, we did not have a cat fight or insulted each other over the phone. It wasn’t highly dramatic, it was a low blow: she simply deleted me from her Facebook friends.

To further explain, I’ll get to the bottom of the story. I met my friend, Diana*, in a South London bar where we were both working at in the summer of 2009. We instantly bonded over the fact that we were both Canadian, around the same age, and had a lot in common. Plus, she seemed like a lot of fun and as it happens in some encounters, we were instant friends. I was twenty-years-old, she was twenty-three. We partied tons and we loved to dance. She had this habit of going AWOL in the middle of the night, leaving me worried and trying to call her to no avail. For example, I remember an instance on a boat party where my then-boss (a terrible man, which I just started to realize then) offered her some cocaine and she subsequently went missing. I tried calling her hundreds of times, to no reply. I stayed up all night and ended going home along two Spanish girls on the top storey of the double decker.

Mine and Diana’s conversations often revolved around boys. She kept me captivated with her stories of lovers since I was in a long-term relationship at the time. We went to St. James’s Park  in the daytime when we initially said goodbye: she was returning home as summer had ran its course and I was staying a little longer in London, but was on my way out as well. She was bummed out by the fact that another friend we were working with didn’t pay much attention about her imminent departure. As we sat on the lush grass, her speech went to sad to sassy as she told me about her next move: running the marathon back in Canada.

When we saw each other a year later in Ottawa, much had changed, mostly my relationship status and her just-graduated one, but our friendship remained intact. We met at a Scottish pub to speed-date: she was between meetings, hence we had to catch up quickly, right under a three-hour slot. We had a beer and the most gigantic nachos platter I have ever eaten (there were still nachos left!). We talked about one of our favourite topics again; boys. My London boyfriend had morphed into a Montreal husband and that exact summer, we broke up as he went back to Britain. She kept asking me questions, as if she was shocked that the breakup happened so suddenly, while simultaneously being very receptive of the whole story and, like any great girlfriend, totally supportive. At the opposite end of the spectrum, she was in a  happy new relationship with a boyfriend who seemed loving and available: they were both going to England for graduate school. She was beaming and I was genuinely happy for her. We splitted ways and I went to see another old friend in G-Town (or so I like to call Gatineau, Québec).

When I came back to visit London last summer, it was exactly three summers after we first met, and we were very excited to see each other again. She was still calling me ‘’babe’’ and letting me know that it was important to hangout before my forthcoming flight . We met on the steps of the fascinating St-Paul’s Cathedral, coincidently right next to the first hostel I’ve stayed in upon my initial meeting with the city at nineteen, fresh off the boat. She hurried to meet me and took me straight to meet her colleagues from a posh law firm outside of a pub (so much for one-on-one girl talk, I thought). Those people were glossy, smart, powerful and posh but somehow flirty and false. As we left, she had to bike home, so I took the Tube to meet her at the South London abode she was sharing with her younger brother. It was hilarious moment: as I was looking for the place, I heard my name from above: she was screaming from the third floor. After I made my way in, I met her brother (very handsome) and we all had a drink (‘’those beers were left by my friends who came to visit’’). The plan was to go to a bar in West London where my friend James, a British boy I met in Montreal and whose family I was staying with, worked  and could get us free drinks at. The brother wasn’t too keen on going out, since he had been looking for work and going on too many mad benders, but a little convincing from both of us went a long way. We bought beer, drank on the way and finally made it to the bar. The bouncer checked my name off the guestlist and we drank solid drinks and danced the night away, getting increasingly inebriated. I told my friend ‘’I like your brother’’ to prevent a future fight and/or to make things clear at that dizzy moment in time. Things started going sour when everyone was drunk: me and the brother kissed as Diana was into an engaging conversation with another fellow. She went AWOL and we looked for her everywhere. Her brother kept calling her, to no avail. We made it to their place on the deck of a night bus around 3:30 AM, as most people were coming home from partying, inebriated, tired and happy. We smoked weed out the window, kissed and went to bed, lovingly.

We woke up the next morning, both very enthusiastic about the prospect of breakfast. We got dressed, ready and out to find a restaurant. As we were walking down the road, we ran into Diana, who was in the most terrible hangover haze ever. She told us that she went to the boy’s place but that nothing happened: she did not sleep with people anymore, she was okay, and that was it. She was sipping on a gigantic bottle of water and carrying two tabloid magazines as hangover transit reading. She redirected the breakfast quest: she argued that we should all go to this pub that did Mexican breakfast, so we walked back and up the road. The place was weird and fun in many ways: it was a huge industrial pub with a little kitchen dedicated to Mexican delicacies, and the food was indeed very satisfying. I had a chicken and avocado sandwich, and while it was flavourful and filling, it was also the absolute worst food to eat elegantly in front of a boy I fancied.  We walked back to the main road, and the brother bought us blue slushes at the Tube station, which was a very refreshing idea from Diana, especially in the sweltering  heat mixed with summer smog. I hugged them goodbye and made my way into the Tube, feeling a little worse for wear.

A few short days after, the day before my takeoff, was full to the brim with emotions, action and adventures. After meeting with my ex-husband in Regent’s Park, whom I hadn’t seen for two years, I hung out in a Notting Hill mansion with friends and then made it to Diana and her brother’s place around 1 A.M, as he managed to convince me to come back to spend my ultimate night with him. I had a feeling that maybe it wasn’t the right thing to do but genuinely, I liked the guy. I also wasn’t aware of any objection from the part of my friend,  so I went ahead. The next morning, as I was about to leave her a note that was mostly saying: ‘’I love you and goodbye’’, I intercepted the brother’s phone (‘’you received a text!’’) to unfortunately glance at it and see ‘’WTF Lili was here? It goes both ways’’. I blushed and felt terrible. Since I suddenly felt like an intruder in their living space, I instantly told him about it. ”Don’t worry”, he said. The conversation switched on the topics of girls: they could sometimes be too catty and manipulative. He replied: ‘’yes, and they say things like ‘’it goes both ways…’’’’.

We parted ways at a South London station. We hugged goodbye for a long time, and, just as I stepped down on the escalators, I started sobbing. I went back to James’s place to last-minute pack (stress! silly girl!) and pick up my luggage. After I said goodbye to James, I took a bus to Heathrow, in which I cried again. I was feeling simultaneously sad, exhausted, happy, blessed and bummed about my four fabulous months in Europe coming to an end and the imminent going-home scheme that was already in motion. London is home now, just as Montreal is home, and it felt like home all over again last summer, as I was strolling down roads, lanes, parks, markets, neighborhoods and spending fun-tastic time with a plethora of fabulous friends. I didn’t feel like quitting my dreamy European life just yet, not for the second time around. Not surprisingly, I cried all over the British Airways flight home again, exhausted from an emotional overload, sad about coming home to the same old life style, and slightly drunk on free white wine. I switched my attention onto happier and sillier mediums, such as episodes of Absolutely Fabulous and American chick flicks, and then my dad’s jokes as he picked me up at the airport. The next day, I wrote to Diana, telling her I was home safe and sound and also that I was sorry for any harm I could have had done. I hoped for an answer.

I really believe in sisterhood, so seeing the ‘’Add Friend’’ icon the other night was a real shocker. The fact that my friend decided to put a virtual blow on our friendship seemed too much for me to fathom. It seemed absurd, as if she would have to ‘’kill’’ someone to eliminate danger, and since her ties with her brother are blood-related and necessary, she decided to ‘’kill’’ me. I was very hurt, my solar plexus started burning like a gunshot in my heart. If there was a sudden silence, I was to go on a quest for answers, so I decided to write her a last note explaining, simply, that I wanted to talk to her about it and most importantly, that our friendship meant a lot to me. The message was seen, to no reply, thanks Facebook for letting me know . There is a limit to what a girl can do, and indeed, there was a limit to her love.

I took my courage out and about and into my heart again. I decided to let the weight of that relationship drop,  with the ghost that goes along with it. Of course, it will always remain an unfortunate mystery, and one that might unveil one day, but I believe the moon phases have now changed. There is enough love inside of myself and into every amazing person  in my life to stop looking for it where it’s evaporated. There is a t-shirt that my friend  was wearing to class this winter that comes to mind as this story ends: it said ‘’hi hater!’’ in the front and ‘’bye hater!’’ in the back. Well, that kind of sums up my state-of-mind now: if you can’t be a sister, then bye, hater!

*Names have been changed to protect the author’s friends’ identities.

** p. 120-121. Hudson, Kathryn. Elle Canada. NO. 148, October 2013. Toronto, Canada.

Photo: Old Ladies, 2013. By Olivier Gariépy. http://ogariepy.tumblr.com/

Lili Monette is a born-and-raised Montrealer and an artist by DNA and by choice. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre and Development from Concordia University and can be found around the world entertaining people and gathering stories.

When I Realized I Was A Grown-up

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Sixteen years is a long time. It’s the age of a girl who dates football players or the boy who drives his Dad’s car with a mix of caution and recklessness. Sixteen years is also how long I’ve known Lola, a woman who was a giant kid at heart and made me laugh myself to tears. We met at a talent show in 1997; her with actual talent and me trying to pass my pathetic imitation of Posh Spice as a talent. We were close all through high school and stayed in touch as I went to university and she moved to another small town. Eventually we drifted apart, tethered only by Facebook, with the occasional message and an almost random run-in on the street in Toronto.

She’s now engaged, and in celebration I invited her to visit me in Toronto for a weekend. I wanted to share this special event with her, remembering all the great times we had together. I bought loads of booze, planned all these events and things to do, and had all these expectations and it turned out to be a fantastic weekend. However, I was surprised at how I felt after it was over.

While I have aged, I’ve never felt any differently from when I was a teenager. Being with L made me realize that not only had I grown up, I was not who I really thought I was.

She came in with a whirlwind of activity and clumsiness (as always); she hardly stopped to breathe as she told me about her life with her fiancée, her two cats, and friends. She talked me into going to the Eaton Centre and proudly told me that it was her first streetcar ride (which she then almost fell out of when exiting). Her innocence, even with her age, surprised me. I had always felt older than her, but she was getting married! I herded her around town, and, for a while, it felt like old times; side splitting laughter, giggling about boys and trying on clothing. Then I had planned to take her out with a bunch of my Toronto friends and take her out we did! They loved her, she loved them, and a grand time was had by all.

Being with L made me realize that not only had I grown up, I was not who I really thought I was.

The next day was full of fun and more tastes of Toronto life, and even before she boarded the bus home, she wanted me to plan her next visit. I smiled weakly, after all exhausted with the late night and the running around and told her we’d work it out later.

I went home alone with my iced tea and confused emotions. I was happy she had a great time, I was exasperated by her and I felt nostalgic because maybe the distance between Lola and I was longer than her bus ride. The things that mattered to us when we were younger don’t mean the same to me anymore; I don’t have tickle fights with my friends (true story), I wear clothes that I find fashionable not because they were in style, I don’t even listen to the same music anymore. I’ve become a mature, wine/whiskey drinking, biography reading, staying in and watching Netflix kind of adult. The girl that Lola knew was just a snapshot of my past that had been left behind in a photo album that L carried on her trip. It was very sobering to realize that magically I had grown up without even noticing.

I later looked at photos on Facebook, reminiscing, and realized that despite how much I’ve changed, there is a tiny bit of me that will still giggle over cute boys, or lip sync to a pop song that I would die if anyone found out I knew the lyrics to. The weekend was nice to revisit the old me, laugh until I had tears in my eyes, and letting myself be goofy with a good friend, but I am better off being who I am now.

Erin Fahy is a corporate drone by day and a Blonde Mag contributor by night. You can follow her on Twitter @rockurworld16. Lola is not her friend’s real name.

Image from Manley Art

Valley of the Dolls: How Pamela Des Barres’ Writing Workshop Changed My Life

GTOs

You never know what to expect when you go to these things. You know it’s a writer’s group, so it will be intimate and there will probably be tears, maybe you’ll discover something new about yourself, reveal some hidden truth. But you can’t ever actually prepare for the way these things unfold. For the stories you’ll hear, you’ll tell. These things have an organic, electric current that flows through them, one that is beyond body and mind.

For the uninitiated, Pamela Des Barres is a god among girls, at least girls with penchants for bearded boys and bad decisions, girls who grew up listening to records, chasing bands, making stories. A member of the GTOs, she’s one of the world’s most famous groupies, and before you jump to conclusions, you must realize her role in your record collection. For she pulled on the heartstrings of Mick Jagger, Keith Moon, Jimmy Page, and Paul McCartney, for starters. She is the original wild child, tied to no one, lover of the moment. She wrote memoirs documenting her adventures and affairs, and she wrote them, somehow, with an elegance to her raw prose, never sparing a detail, so you could almost imagine yourself in a thin white dress, flowered headband, on the bus alongside her in the California sun.

I first borrowed her book I’m With The Band from my friend, and Blonde contributor, Allison and I liked it so much I didn’t return it for two years. It was also Allison who, through some higher power or spiritual force or intention of being, convinced Pamela Des Barres to come give one of her writer’s workshops, infamous in LA, here in Toronto. She picked Pamela up herself from the airport and hand delivered her to us, a group of lost girls, sharing a common bond of music and words and boys and stories. Pamela came to us and when she left we weren’t the same.

Something happened in that room. Pamela gathered us around and we sat in a big circle for two full nights. There were twenty of us, most were from Toronto but some came as far as Edmonton. First we shared some details about ourselves, the simple things, our names, a little morsel about our lovers. It didn’t take long before we were sharing secrets, there were moments so quiet you could hear the hair rising on arms, you could feel the intensity, the honesty. Girls bravely told stories they hadn’t even told their closest friends. I told stories I hadn’t (still haven’t) told my closest friends. We wrote about lies, sex, regrets, innocence, death, childhood, our parents, our hometowns, our dreams, and our records. We laughed. We cried. We wrote about the people that made us, the people that broke us, and the strength that allowed us to continue despite this.

But what I never expected to find were the Dolls, the very girls themselves. When you reveal so much about yourself to a room full of strangers you are making an unspoken pact. What happens in the room, stayed in the room, but the friendships and connections that were made in that room transcended it.

We became confidants. We became friends. We became part of a group so unique we call ourselves the Toronto Dolls, as Pamela does to the girls who attend her workshops.  We became part of each other, in a deep way, constants in messy lives. We help each other through struggles, through writer’s block, through pains and gains. We encourage each other when we’re down and send accolades when things are up. We support each other’s businesses, bands, and, most of all, writing. When we confess our sins, there is no judgment.

Because of the Dolls, I have realized things about myself I’m not sure I would have realized before. I have been encouraged to do things I’m not sure I would have before, to take leaps and risks and to start saying yes. It’s one of the reasons I started Blonde, and one of the reasons I am inspired to build it into something beautiful and raw. Blonde simply wouldn’t exist without the Dolls. I’m not sure where I’d be without them either.

Sheena Lyonnais is an editor of Blonde, as well as many other things, and first and foremost a writer. You can follow her on Twitter @SheenaLyonnais.