ELHAM NUMAN/THE VARSITY

It takes a lot of heart: an eventful year both on campus and abroad, 2016 was a divisive year for a lot of us. As another year begins, this series of personal essays invites you to ponder this question: where is the love?


Last year was absolute and complete garbage. By the start of this year, we found ourselves in a decidedly more violent, tense, and terrifying world. Throughout it all though, the minuscule instances of light make me get up every morning and look forward to potential moments of happiness.

More than anything, my happiness depends heavily on my friendships. If it wasn’t for my friends, I could easily say that I wouldn’t be here today. My friends are my source of support and provide me with light in the darkest of times. I would like to take a moment to dissect and separate the good moments from the mess that threatens to eat us up.

I become most aware of my own happiness under the clear skies of summer. The happiness that I feel when enveloped in the warmth of the summer is almost palpable.

Last summer, my friends and I went to have a picnic on the Toronto Islands, in an attempt to enjoy the last of the lingering heat. The day started as a struggle: the ferry took ages; we felt like we were being swallowed by the sun; the food became soggy; and we didn’t pack nearly enough water as we should have.

We eventually found a cozy picnic table and I blasted my Troye Sivan playlist throughout the silence of the island; we ate and babbled about all sorts of irrelevant nonsense. At one point, my friend and I decided to go to the bathroom, bringing a camera to indulge our shallow hearts with mirror selfies.

We found a washroom with the door propped open. My friend headed to the stall right away, while I puckered my lips in front of the mirror and reapplied my lipstick.

If it wasn’t for the people I love and their constant support and kindness, waking up every day would be absolutely meaningless.

I was in the middle of my best Kim Kardashian expression when a tall, bald man emerged from one of the stalls. He gave me a curious look as he reached for the sink and I stared at him with wide eyes. Minutes passed as he washed his hands and all I did was stare, transfixed by this man who, as far as I was concerned, could be a pervert.

“I’m sorry, but what are you doing here?” I finally asked him, my voice trembling slightly as I looked at the man.

“Um, washing my hands?” He replied, looking almost scared of me, a 20-year-old girl with the body of a 12-year-old boy.

“This is the girls’ washroom though. I know the door was opened, so it’s all good if you made a mistake,” I said.

He looked from me to the door, back to me and back to the door. He finally walked over, pulling the door back to reveal a sign that said MEN in bold, black lettering.

It was my turn to look at the door to the man, back to the door and back to him. I bowed my head in shame and mumbled a quiet apology as he practically ran out of the washroom.

Each ensuing wave of laughter echoed through the walls and vibrated back to me. My friend, who had practically left me to die in shame, joined me and her laughter mixed with mine. She stepped out of the stall and I grasped onto her for support, our uncontrollable giggling obnoxiously reverberating throughout the tight space of the washroom.

Still committed to our original mission, she grabbed her camera and pointed it to the mirror as we tried our best to pose through the laughter seizing our bodies, each snort breaking our regained composure again and again. We left the washroom hanging off each other, chortling every time we shared a look.

It turned out to be the best day of the summer. If it wasn’t for the people I love and their constant support and kindness, waking up every day would be absolutely meaningless. Even if the worst were to happen, I’d still have these small moments of light to look forward to.

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