by Tara Osipoff on September 27, 2013
The Crow, The Burnaby Hillbilly and The Big City.
I’m going to skip all of the “Since I was a little girl, all I’ve ever wanted to do is go to fashion school” mumbo jumbo, because let’s face it — every little girl has a million dreams. We just like to coin that phrase if one of those dreams actually pans out. I wanted to be a Circus Contortionist (fact), a doctor (doesn’t everyone?), a Fashion Designer and a Mortician (doesn’t everyone?). The truth is, I tried a few of those paths, worked hard, and realized there was only one I was passionate about: fashion.
I’m still confused as to whether I am really brave, or incredibly stupid; but what I do know is that I gave up a lot to give a shot at what I was most passionate about.
I applied for fashion school on a Friday evening. I grabbed a glass of wine and sat at my computer typing away. In the application I wrote about my favourite designers. I wrote about where they grew up, where they went to school, their families, where they’ve worked and why they’re the best at what they do. I rambled on about why the fashion industry as a whole inspires me. I discussed the art of fashion, the movement, the culture and how it affects every human being, whether they believe it does or not.
Monday morning came and before I could wipe the sleep from my eyes, my phone buzzed. Across the screen: “1 new voicemail.” It was the Director of Blanche Macdonald Center. “Please give us a call back, Tara.”
Needless to say, it was a great way to start a Monday. Nine months later, struggles and hurdles crossed, I was packing my old ’99 Grand Prix to the roof with vacuum bagged clothes and a few odds and ends for Vancouver. A few bags lay on the floor by the door, one packed with towels and linen and the other with clothes. Mom glances down, “If you can only fit one more bag, you better take the linens and towels.” I kissed my mom goodbye, bent down, and grabbed a bag. She shook her head as the bag with linens and towels still lay on the floor. I smiled, “You can get linens and towels anywhere, mom, but I traveled far and wide, in and out of vintage stores for what’s in this bag.”
I’m not sure whether it was my boyfriend Evan or I who made the decision to leave the morning after the going away party; either way, it made for a great Snapchat video of me puking on the side of the highway. That day we made it to Calgary, where Evan is spending a year doing an internship for his Petroleum Engineering Degree. After spending a week in “cow town,” it was time to hit the highway and get me the rest of the way to Vancouver.
Driving through the mountains, at night, while it’s raining and foggy, may not have been the best idea. Once again, I can’t recall if it was Evan’s idea or mine. Nonetheless, once the fog cleared and the sun peeked its head, we found ourselves stopping every so often to take pictures of the beautiful Okanogan. From the beautiful prairie skies to the snow covered mountain tops, we were feeling blessed to live in a country where every road leads to a photo op.
We arrived in Vancouver on a Saturday. The weather was beautiful, which was deceiving as all we talk about in Saskatchewan is how rainy it is in Vancouver. Maybe that is our way of making ourselves feel better about the -50 degree winters we have in Saskatchewan. Either way, I wasn’t going to complain about the warm welcoming from Mother Nature. I settle into my new apartment, which is gorgeous; wall-to-wall windows and two blocks from the ocean. My new roommate tells me not to worry about there not being any screens on the windows; there aren’t many bugs here. Am I in paradise?
We plan to head to Ikea to purchase a sewing desk for my room. My roommate insists I check Craigslist. Sure enough, a brand new desk: $40.00.
The ad reads: “No emails, please call.” I do as I’m asked.
Me: “Hello, I’m calling about the desk.”
Man on the other end of the line: “Ohh, which desk?”
Me: “The one listed on Craigslist?” Feeling like I may have the wrong number.
Craigslist man: “Oh yes, yes, we have several. Why don’t you drop by and take a look, we got lots of neat stuff.”
Me, a bit hesitant: “Hmm. Sure, what’s your address?”
“Well, if you take Davie Street down to Burrard and then–”
Cutting him off: “I’ll just type it in my GPS.”
Stumped, he says: “Oh, you have one of those crazy things that tells you where to go? We don’t even know how to use a computer.” . . . Foreshadowing.
We arrive safely in Burnaby, a 30 minute drive from my apartment, thanks to that “crazy thing that tells me where to go.” We pull up to the house to get the desk. “Are you sure this is it?” I ask Evan, who has been navigating. “This is the address and the street he gave us,” he says sarcastically, while thinking “She should know better than to question my directions” (like all men).
We walk to the backyard as we can hear some rustling. “Hello, we called about the desk?” A large man in a greasy shirt pops out from behind a massive pile of junk, and with a hillbilly chuckle and only one large single front tooth, introduces himself as Eric. Alen, his partner, who isn’t far behind, introduces himself. Alen, who I should mention was wearing a 1975 Florida surfing shirt covered with holes and grease stains and an odor so bad that the flies don’t even follow him, has most of his teeth… most. Needless to say, after an hour and a half of listening to the two of them banter and watching Eric dance down the driveway in an apron with fake plastic breasts attached to it, we end up leaving emotionally and mentally scarred, with a car full to the windows with their junk. But, I guess you know what they say — one man’s junk is another mans new sewing table, lamp, end table, shelf unit, and pots and pans.
Finally set up in the new apartment, I start to settle into my new routine, running the Seawall and doing yoga in the morning. Reading and sewing in the afternoon. One afternoon while reading, I open our large windows which, remember, do not have screens. I glance up from my book to see a crow perched on the edge of the windowsill. Naturally, I am a bit startled, knowing he can fly in and he may have friends. This could turn into their apartment very quick. The imagined outcome of birds taking over my new residence, I decide it is only appropriate to have a stare-off with the crow; naturally, winner takes the apartment. Luckily, in the second grade I was a stare-off champion, and it came back naturally just like riding a bike. Soon after, the crow flew off. Upon my roommate’s return, I tell her of the altercation. Most people would probably write me off as crazy, but she understood the predicament. She tells me that I got away lucky, as I don’t think she wanted to live with a crow. She also informs me that crows have great facial recognition, so be wise with my interactions. I pondered this for some time, then the thought slipped away. A few days pass and my routine continues. Until one afternoon, on the windowsill, the crow returns. I am certain it was him, the same crow from the other day. He wasn’t there to win back the stare-off title; we just sat in silence, the crow and I. I then realized he was my first friend in the big city.
I have yet to start school at Blanche. I have a few months to find my bearings here. Although school begins on November 6, I have spent a few days there mingling with the delightful staff and faculty. The walk to school is magical, filled with people traipsing around with their hunter boots, small rats (I mean dogs) and their umbrellas. Vancouver is eclectic; a wide range of characters. The city is full of foot traffic that brings energy to the streets here. I have learned to be a “power” walker, slow traffic keep right. The movement of the city is up to you. It’s as fast or slow as you make it. Life seems to be that way; get left behind in the dust, or push forward. That is why I’m here, isn’t it? To push forward, break out of the stagnancy and see where my path will take me if I just choose to follow it with trust and not let anything interrupt my flow. I look forward to see where my journey in Vancouver will lead me next. For today, that’s all I have to share.
Stay tuned for more from “the little fashion girl from the prairies.”