Every September since I arrived on this planet, ragweeds grow high enough to walk through in the wild grass throughout the southern Ontario towns and cities that I’ve spent my life exploring.
Ragweeds represent a variety of things to me; they are a stunning sunny landmark that grace the fields next to the long stretches of highway. They seem to paint the sky’s underbelly with yellow bursts of bold colour. They make my little brothers sneeze uncontrollably. They comfort me because you can always depend on seeing and sneezing from them, at the end of summer where I’m from. They are reliable and that gives me comfort.
The plant also seems to explode out of absolutely nowhere, always all of a sudden, always in mid September, and I can honestly say that it usually takes a few weeks of them being forced into my psyche before I actually say their name to myself before I even realize they’re there. No. They’re everywhere.
I feel smaller after seeing things in nature like that. Who am I to this world?
These weeds have a purpose, and will come back over and over again, year after year. People don’t do that. Almost everybody leaves at some point, maybe without the intention, but sometimes they don’t return. As a child are we taught to prepare for things like that to happen? I think that I used to look at people like ragweeds, assuming that they would always eventually come back to us, no matter what… But people aren’t that reliable. Especially in this era, and even before it.
This year I have been questioning myself on how I can let things run past me, very quickly, without the realization of their existence in my consciousness. But how can something like that still manage to be a symbol for so much, mean so much. Like a seasonal plant from your home.
It makes me think of the excitement of the new semester and school year starting and I remember the Halloween parties I’d go to with friends as a high-schooler. It also brings up some bittersweet memories too; with every year and every season, new situations present themselves and more traumas build up around me, creating a hard protective shell.
You see, this September was a weird one, and for the first time in human history I believe I can confidently say that this year was probably the weirdest one yet for a lot of people all over the world.
I moved to the city this summer on a sour note, in the middle of this pandemic, and very much jumped into a world that I had been tiptoeing around for what felt like my entire life. Throughout this journey I can feel myself constantly changing and my brain growing and going in millions of different directions and pathways – which can apply to any area of my life. I actually feel like I’ve learned more in the past few months about myself and others than what I’ve learned in all of my dramas and escapades leading up to now. It’s overwhelming, but yet it feels so right.
I know I’m not the only one who feels “this” way, whatever “this” means.
I’ve had girlfriend after girlfriend of mine calling me in tears to talk about their feelings of hopelessness every 20 something year old feels in this stage of their lives, but it feels amplified. The pressure of wondering what your purpose is in this world can be crushing to think about, and with the added stress of so much uncertainty and turmoil happening around us and it being so ‘in your face’ in our everyday lives, it can feel like there is nothing that can be done in life to have a sense of control or security. These thoughts are overwhelming and scary and I’ve fought back hard within myself to keep them all at bay. It’s a pandemic within itself.
I am a deep thinker and an emotional feeler, but my thoughts often drift and twist into so many directions, it’s hard to keep track or make sense of them. Writing them helps me to figure out the real feelings and fears I have underneath the stress and chaos I am feeling from all of this change in the middle of this pandemic. It doesn’t help that I am writing this while I wait for my own COVID test results. Fear and stress are feelings that are all too familiar and I am starting to wonder if these are feelings that I will have to live with for my whole life, or if I can look forward to a time when life won’t be so intensely scary.
Like with the changing seasons, soon we will say goodbye to ragweed and welcome the snow and I will change too, with new thoughts and new worries as I try to navigate this world.
(Photo credit: Greg Rempel)
I’m the Jak in Willowjak. Jake by day and Matilda by night – experimenting with the world of drag and modelling while fiercely repping the LGBTQIA2S+ community. Navigating my way to independence in Toronto with the love of my family and autistic brothers supporting me. Determined to come through the darkness of mental illness and addiction so that I can use my experiences for good and to lend a hand of support to others to help them do the same.