In April of 1994, the Pagan boy got off a plane and walked back into Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
He felt defeated. He had attempted to make a go of it on his own and was returning to the home nest at 24. He was given a small room in his parents’ apartment. He was given access to their cars and all of this under the condition that he went back to school and completed his university degree.
He did as instructed. He had a job through the summer working at an office that paid minimum wage. The office went bankrupt in August and vanished. A week later, he began a job at an air compressor company where his father was the accountant. He worked at the shipping desk with the intention of working three days a week while going to school two.
Starting in September he did attend school. This time aiming for a degree in English Literature. He lasted a month. By November he had canceled his enrollment and would spend his two days wandering the downtown Toronto streets, too ashamed and afraid to admit that he could no longer deal with school. This is something he never admitted to anyone at least until the posting of this story. Even years later, he is still frightfully ashamed of this time.
He attended church and pretended to still believe for the benefit of his mother. Again, another lie.
In the spring of 1995 after “school” finished, he started working at the air compressor company full-time in the shipping area. He learned the parts although really not putting much effort into the job.
He met a young woman that year. Another blind date as he was still too timid to actually know how to find anyone on his own. They began dating regularly and seemed well suited. They went to concerts and shows together, many things that the Pagan boy could not afford but ran up credit card bills on. The sex seemed good, but he did not know any better.
A return trip to Calgary at the end of the summer for a family reunion around the Pagan boy’s grandmother’s 80th birthday would produce a ring. His grandmother gave him a ring for the woman.
Returning, he was quickly engaged to the young woman and they prepared for a wedding to happen in August a year later. As was typical, he agreed to all of her demands. They would get married in her church, a United church that she did not attend. She decided on where they would hold the reception. She even talked him into his tuxedo to include a Mickey Mouse vest.
Later that fall, the parts sales person became ill and the Pagan boy took over the sales desk. Again, with very little effort, he thrived at it and increased their sales significantly.
That Christmas, his fiancée insisted he spend it with her family. They spent Christmas Eve with his. He agreed to this thinking this would be something they could alternate from year to year.
The next year sped past. The wedding was a great party. It was followed by a week on a cruise and a week at Disney that, again, he could not afford. They moved into an apartment and began to play house.
Things were not perfect, but they were okay. He was a bit lazy. Could not cook but at least he would do the dishes. Did a little cleaning. Left her to do the laundry. He became an internet junkie.
He also took a job doing professional Tarot readings at a local restaurant on Friday evenings. He had a fancy vest he would wear with stars that he thought made him look like a magician…not a magickian. He would sit at the restaurant and three or four people would have him read their cards. He made a few extra dollars for about six weeks…until the church got involved. A local church woman’s group came to the owner of the restaurant and told her to stop the readings or they would boycott the restaurant. She ended the contract with the Pagan boy immediately.
He stopped doing the professional readings after that anyway. He found he was not reading the cards well and was telling people what they would want to hear in the hope they would come back.
In the summer of 1997 they bought a little brown house with a little brown garage door. The Pagan boy was shocked that the bank approved the mortgage with how much debt he was in. They got the keys and spent two weeks painting and cleaning before moving in. A pool that took up most of the backyard was dismantled and given away before they attempted to grow a lawn. Being the Pagan boy had allergies and swore off things like gardening, an evergreen tree was planted in the backyard and declared to be his as a joke.
On Boxing Day in 1997, the Pagan boy and his wife got on a plane for Calgary. Approximately three in the afternoon they got off and found a bright sun and no snow on the ground. They rented a vehicle and started what was to be a six hour drive west back to see his grandfather in Creston, British Columbia. The snow began in Banff and slowed their trek down to a crawl. They slipped along curvy mountain roads in the dark and finally arrived almost twelve hours later.
They spent a day with his grandfather before returning to Calgary. His grandfather asked them to stay another day, but they refused and wanted to get back in the daylight. His grandfather was in tears as they pulled away…something the Pagan boy had seen twice before, once when his grandfather was stuck in the hospital with gout, and the second the morning of the grandmother’s death more than ten years earlier. Little did the Pagan boy know, but this was the last time he would see his grandfather.
The drive back was uneventful other than his wife being amazed at the cliff side driving. She would have made him stop during the blizzard the other night had she realized.
The first week of January in 1998 brought a new job for the boy. He was hired into the building materials industry to run a sales office and do inside sales for a high pressure laminate company. It was, again, an easy job that he could sleep through and, in fact, did sleep through some afternoons.
In the fall of 1998, things changed. The couple was overjoyed as the first child was now expected.
The Pagan boy had credit card debts he could no longer handle, but kept trying to find quick fixes. He still did Tarot readings, now online. He also began writing and published his first story, ironically, sold to a Catholic magazine in Quebec. He made $25 on the story and thought a writing career would be next.
In August on 1999 the Pagan boy marched down the hall at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga with his first daughter in his arms. He had a nurse leading him. Due to meconium, the child’s first two days would be spent in special observation to make sure she had not swallowed any of her own poop. The Pagan boy already assumed that like himself, any child of his would be full of shit anyway, so what was the difference?
He spent the next few days back and forth to the hospital.
He brought his wife and daughter home from the hospital without realizing how many rugs were about to be pulled from under his feet.