I was just painting my toenails red tonight when I remembered buying the nail polish at the Shoppers Drug Mart in downtown Yellowknife a little more than two years ago.
I wanted to have nice toes and fingers for my first appearance at the Ontario Newspaper Awards, but I was very broke and couldn’t afford a mani/pedi. I think the cheapest one I could find in Yk was around $80.
Part of the reason why I was broke is I had decided to leave my job in the North for a summer internship at the Telegraph-Journal in New Brunswick. It was a risky move, but I felt terribly homesick and I knew Yellowknife wasn’t for me.
I would take a pay cut to roughly half of what I was making at Northern News Services, plus I had to cover my flight back to Ontario. I booked the flight only to find out a couple days later that I could make it to the ONAs if I changed the date to a couple days sooner. So I bought another ticket and kept a credit for the other flight cost.
I also needed to save enough money to cover the costs of emptying my apartment in Waterloo, finding a new place in Saint John, and waiting the obligatory month for my first paycheque.
Looking back, this was probably the most chaotic week of my life, full of changes, risks and a new beginning.
Thing is, I really wanted to make it to the ONAs because I was up for a novice reporting award and I was also the student of the year, picked from all the journalism students in Ontario, which was a humbling honour. I was eager to make it to the awards in person, and see all my old colleagues from the Waterloo Region Record. I had been laid off from that paper in February of that year (2009).
But after a day of flying across the country, I would arrive in Toronto about two hours before the event started. After driving to Waterloo, I wouldn’t even have time to shower before the awards. So it was Yellowknife where I primped for an evening in Waterloo, if you follow.
My ex, of all people, picked me up at the airport in Toronto that day (what was I thinking?) and got me to Waterloo, where I quickly changed into a red dress, and, toes painted red the night before, slipped out the door.
The evening was a blast. I attended solo, but I didn’t care. I saw all my old colleagues and my old editors. I didn’t win the novice award, but as the student of the year, I said a little impromptu speech thanking my editors at the Waterloo Region Record and at the London Free Press for their support. Then, we danced the night away, my toes painted in L’Oreal Lady Luck 450.
About 48 hours later, I filled my 1997 Volkswagen Jetta with everything that would fit, including two cats, and drove 1,600 km to Saint John, New Brunswick.