So here’s the deal. I am turning twenty-six next week, which means I am officially four years away from my power birthday: thirty. I have been planning my thirtieth birthday since I was nine years old. No joke. Truth be told, I knew from a very young age that my journey through adolescence and young adulthood was not going to be an easy one. Like every Nancy growing up in the mid-West, I dreamed of the day I would graduate University and leave the prairies once and for all.
In my birthday dream, I turn thirty on the sun porch of my red-brick house, dressed in a cerulean blue Calvin Klein suit with John Varvatos boots and a bottle of 2000 Chateau Pétrus. Popping open the cork, my dog, Sir Elton John, lies close to my feet, and so long as Canada Post is not on strike at the time, the two of us wait in eager anticipation for the delivery of my first child. Unfortunately, returning to reality for a closing sentence, with my bank account in over-draft, I am no closer to attaining my dream as I am to sleeping with a woman.
There is certainly no hiding the fact this city is not a cheap one. It costs money here to just to breathe, not to mention the HST on top of that. So long as I am still serving diet coke refills in four years, it is more likely I will turn thirty sans chien with a king-size can of Lucky lager and a pair of clearance-bin ankle-highs from Payless. I love Vancouver with all my heart, but how on earth am I ever going to afford a child when I cannot even pay my smart phone bill on time. Step aside Bran Van 3000, because next Friday it is my turn to ask the question: what the hell am I doing drinking in BC at twenty-six?
Now, I know what you’re thinking right? The answer is easy. Just pack your sequin-studded bags and haul your tight ass back to Winnipeg. Once you are there you can serve tables three nights a week, finish your Pulitzer-prize winning debut novel, and still have enough money to pay the mortgage each month and have bottles of red wine delivered to your doorstep each day. Minus the arctic temperatures in the winter and scorching heat in the summer, it sounds great right? However there is just one catch.
In terms of gay men, I register as flaming. I mean let’s keep it real – judging by the sound of my voice, cardigans in my closet and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest hits on my iPod, on the Kinsey Scale I’d measure an eleven. Because of these fabulous facts, whenever I return home to the prairies my flame does not go unnoticed. Case in point, the last time I flew to Winnipeg for the weekend, within twenty-four hours: my cute summer outfit was practically ripped to shreds by the small-town eyes of every local in walking distance, and, I almost got my beautiful face smashed in after I made a dangerous fashion faux-pas and wore my neon pink socks to pick-up beer at the vendor.
Exhausted, I remember expressing my frustration to my father at the end of my visit on the drive back to the airport. “I swear, if one more person gives me a second-look, I am going to break a martini glass over their head.” Two-and-a-half hours later, I breathed a sigh of relief once I stepped off the plane in Vancouver, opened my umbrella and blended in to the crowd once again.
Does this mean that I am stuck in big cities for the rest of my life? Since I moved here, my mental health has improved, alongside my self-esteem, biceps and personal wardrobe. The geographic limits of this city permit me a personal freedom that is matched in only a handful of places in the world, and I am grateful for that. Each day of the week, no matter what I’m wearing or whose hand I am holding I do not fear for my safety; and that is a luxury, at this time, I am not willing to give up. If five-hundred square feet and living month-to-month is what it costs me right now to feel normal, then so be it.
One day, I will return to my friends and family in Winnipeg. After all, the prairie town is my first true love and throughout all these years, he has always managed to keep my two feet on the ground. For now though, dressing down is not an option. I did not work this hard maxing out my credit card to sacrifice some of the best outfits Canada has ever seen. There are lots of brave bitches on the prairies and I am not one of them; at least not right now.
In the meantime I will raise a glass to being fabulous at twenty-six, no matter what I’m wearing, where I’m living or what vintage is being poured in my glass. For those of you who wish to join me, I will see you at Bin.