Melancholia, Violence, and Acid Wash Denim

(scroll down for outfit post)

A long time ago, at a point in life that seems very far away from my here and now, I lived in this city. The city I’m currently visiting for research, a city I’ve come to know better than I ever thought I would want to know it.

The last time I lived here, I’d just returned from 18 months of travel, before which I’d completed an Arts degree and discovered that I was not cut out for the insurance business. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life, so I waitressed and tried to figure things out. I made OK money, shared an apartment with a college student I barely knew, and somehow managed to begin dating a person who listened to me and appreciated my awkward goofiness in ways that made me feel great. Life was OK; people were a little condescending about my job, and I was a little lost, but it seemed like I was on the verge of finding some direction.

Then two things happened to speed the process along: business slowed down (and my income became way too low), and my roommate was roofied and raped by two men in our apartment while I lay in the next room thinking she was having uncharacteristically loud sex with her boyfriend and wishing I could get back to sleep. Afterward, my poor roommate couldn’t remember the actual rape, but had plenty of trauma nonetheless. She went into counselling and immersed herself in her schoolwork. As far as I know, police never caught her rapists. I wish them (the cowardly rapists) ill.

Since I’d heard it, I was the only “witness” to her rape, a fact that was both alarming and devastating for both of us. To make matters worse, neither of us could afford either to change the locks or to move out. Suddenly, Toronto was a hellhole from which I had to escape.

I continued to date the person who is now the A-Dubs-Hubs. He was almost done medical school and was interviewing for medical residencies at centres across the country. His acceptance into a program in eastern Canada became reason enough for me to leave my desolate Toronto life and follow him to his new city. He told me I was a grad student “waiting to happen.” Fortunately, he was right. Even more fortunately, the student loans people agreed and made my move possible.

And now, I’m back in Toronto. The past eight-day stretch is the longest I’ve spent on my own in this city since that bleak time. The first few days here included excellent times with E-Jo and Rinty the Crusher, and they were thoroughly awesome. Since the exits of E-Jo and Rinty, however, I’ve enjoyed the multiple neighbourhoods, the excellent restaurants and shopping, and the exciting research I’m undertaking. But it’s all increasingly haunted (or tainted?) by the fear and terrible loneliness of my previous life here. Fortunately, I leave tomorrow. Even more fortunately, here endeth the melancholia.

Outfit Post: 

This skirt – worn last week – may not make it to campus, again. I may need to acknowledge that jean skirts are inappropriate even for casual, in-office, non-student-meeting days.

Chapter One black t-shirt: new to blog, via Winners
Green bead necklace: new to blog, purchased during visit with Rinty the Crusher this past April
Azzure acid wash denim skirt: remixed
Shoe Heaven shoes: remixed

Here’s a closer view of the accessories – plus the drab brown cardigan the el-crappo weather dictated that I wear:

Smart Set cardigan: remixed
Bead and wood cuff: new to blog, local artist who sells things at local bookshop (where I also bought books, of course – because I am an academic, so it is the law)

When, if ever, can jean skirts work for work? 

Also, what city, if any, makes you melancholic?
(Don’t worry. We won’t tell. Or make you go there.)

29 thoughts on “Melancholia, Violence, and Acid Wash Denim

  1. Pingback: Things that are Distant though Near (also, Office Pyjamas) | In Professorial Fashion

  2. Oh, don't be sorry about the royal asshole! If not for him, I may not have fled to Chicago. And without Chicago, I wouldn't have met Fella. And without Fella, I never would've met Rad. And if I hadn't met Rad, I wouldn't have joined Style Nation. Wait, where was I going with that?

  3. Clearly, these memories of these places bring out the writer in you, despite the melancholia they inspire. I'm sooo glad you're in a better place, now. 

  4. Yes, I think it might be the law that west coasters hate Toronto. Sometimes I like it – a lot of my friends live there, after all. But sometimes it becomes, as AFtK writes below, "a bad, bad place" for me. 

  5. My time at an insurance company is not interesting in any way. I guarantee it. Also, it's funny, isn't it, how big cities can be especially lonely places, regardless of all the people and activities going on around us while we're in them? 

  6. That's right. Acid wash is new and cool again. Or so says the internets (or said the internets, last year) . Also, is it at all warm there, yet? If not, maybe you should buy a summer condo for you and kitties here in IPF North. 

  7. Good point, Anne. Also, sorry to hear of the melancholy and royal asshole cityscapes. Why do our young selves date people who are so very bad for us? 

  8. Ah, the sweet epic tales of love, heartbreak and graduate study! And I, too, have warm fuzzies for the 'Fax as the Fuzzy Roommate is from that fair and rainy city.

  9. That kind of nostalgia seems inevitable, no? And yet so difficult to endure. I have similarly melancholic nostalgia for Steeltown, where I did my doctoral work and met D-Med, E-Jo, Rinty the Crusher, and the Early Modernist Cool Kid.

  10. Gah! Good point. I feel melancholic in Montreal and another western Canadian city because I will never live there. Do you also feel pressure to pack as much into every visit as humanly possible? 

  11. Ah, Guelph! I was there recently and it seemed good. If we're defining good as "had a freaking excellent shoe store right on the main drag." Otherwise, I saw little else – but I was only there for a day.

  12. I've been thinking about your post for awhile. What a scary thing to have gone through. I can't imagine how you must feel.There are two towns that give me the willies. I've only been back to Montevallo once since I left it years ago. I had bad dreams for years after that I was still there. I was only there for one semester of school but my experience was awful enough, I guess. Nothing happened quite like you experienced; there were always the stories of rape happening. One of the girls who lived down the hall from me was harassing me. It was not a nice experience.The second town is the one I where I went to high school. I lived on the army base but went to the next town over to go to school. It was this little no nothing town. We had a Wal-Mart, a few movie theaters, and some boutique shops that were really geared towards small town southern women who want to seem fashionable in their small ponds.Everybody seemed to be related to one another. Cliques at school were almost encouraged. It was always about who you knew and who knew you. I have friends who still live there, but most people I knew moved away after school. It's just a little town that doesn't grow. When my friend who still lives there asks me to come visit it's hard to say yes. There's nothing to do there.  I don't drink heavily. I don't enjoy country music. And I can go to Wal-Mart anywhere. I don't think there are even any books stores in town anymore; which is just a testament to the town and how inclusive it is. mech…i don't wan to go back there. It just reminds me of hard times at school, being a jeans and doc marten wearing girl in a duckhead khakis world, of not fitting in and struggling to find myself. The good thing is that I do have some really wonderful friends that showed me how to be myself in light of the expectations of the people who have lived there for generations. I'm still in touch with those people.

  13. I'm so sorry for what you've gone through. Date rape was on the rise in Kingston when I lived there, but I was fortunate to not have known anyone who had it happen to them. I wish your ex-roommate all the best.On another note, I think Toronto is a hard city to love for those not from there. I've never liked it (but I guess that was my duty, as a west coaster), but the last time I visited, I was staying with friends who had lived there forever and had a really good time, so maybe it just takes time to warm up to the T-dot. I haven't spent much time in the eastern Canada except for a few blissful summer days in Halifax and Antigonish, but I would like to fix that soon! 

  14. Oh, and I had my heart broken, perhaps irreparably (it doesn't seem to be fixed yet) in Boston.  I lived there for 2 more years, devastated.  And so, while it is still my home in many ways, and on some level I love to go back, I have to be very careful not to go back to a bad, bad place.

  15. I am late to respond, because I read your post right after it went up, and have been thinking about how terrible the entire story about your roommate is.  I spent years working a rape crisis hotline, and I stopped because I worried that I was getting numb to people's stories.  Clearly, I am no longer numb.  I am glad that you are in a better place, that the man now know as A-Dubs Hubs was able to be supportive, and I hope that your then roommate has been able to move forward well in her life.I have no idea what to say about the denim, but it is a question that I am thinking about a lot, of late.  My new fellowship involves me doing nothing but finishing my dissertation all fall (and in case you were hating me, applying for jobs).  I am, however, supposed to do this work in my office, for which I will need 4 to 5 days a week of work clothing.  And I have been wondering about the denim skirts.  Why would skirts be less okay than dark jeans?  Which I think are okay, yes?

  16. Sorry about what happened with your roommate. That is terrible.  I am glad that you're in a better place now, both physically and emotionally.  And I hope that your old roommate is, too.  (Also, insurance?  How come everyone has more interesting past lives then me?)I felt like London was a sad place.  I couldn't quite explain why, but I was living very close to the City, lots of financial big wigs around, and not a lot of livliness (6PM drunkery at the nearby pub isn't that lively).  I wear overdyed denim skirts to work sometimes, but it's more of a later in the semester sort of thing!

  17. That story is so sad.  I hope your roommate was able to start to heal herself after that as well.  My small NJ hometown makes me melancholy.  When I was so little it seemed so big.  Now it seems so small and sad.  It makes me feel strange that I had so much time there not knowing that there were places so much better out there…and that I was afraid of change/those places at the time.  I still haven't mastered denim skirts for work!

  18. The city I live in right now makes me kind of melancholy, mostly because the sun NEVER, EVER comes out to play. It is JUNE and I am still wearing a sweater and wooly socks and stomping around in wellies and a frown.  I agree with Anne that jean skirts work better for work if they are over-dyed denim.  I wear my jean skirt to work (which is over-dyed) but never to teach in and never on office-hour days.  And you are working the acid wash.  But seriously, dude, acid wash?

  19. What a heart-wrenching story. I hope the rapists found their way to prison after all, where some big burly inmates gave them a taste of their own medicine.  I can't really think of anywhere that makes me melancholy, because I know I always have my beloved San Francisco to go back home to (sorry Cynthia!).

  20. Geez, what a terrible and undoubtedly traumatizing experience.  Thank goodness A-Dubs Hubs had an opportunity to get you both out of that environment.My hometown makes me feel melancholy just because of what's happened to it since I was a child.  It's in the middle of the Rust Belt, and was hit by the recession here in the US years before the rest of the country.  And yet I have so many fond memories.  The other city would be Detroit (but really, can anyone visit Detroit and not be totally depressed?)  While I was growing up, it was home to much of my family, so I always liked visiting.  But then I spent the worst year ever living there right after college.  I couldn't find a job, was dating a royal asshole and was totally alienated from all of the people I loved.  Fortunately, I escaped it for Chicago and have never looked back.And to answer your question about jean skirts, I think they work for work pretty well with tights!  I wore mine a lot during winter and spring here.  And I think they could work in the summer too, with the right shoes and accessories.  Perhaps yours doesn't feel work appropriate because of the front slit and color?  Darker denim skirts seem totally work-appropriate to me.

  21. That does suck. I'll join you in ill-wishing the rapists. Halifax always gives me a twinge of melancholy. I did my undergrad there and then stuck around to live and work for 3 years. All in all, I loved my time in the city, but had my heart spectacularly broken by a very unsuitable young man, which prompted me to leave and explore Europe for 5 months (finding myself, you know) and apply for grad school in cities that were far far away.  

  22. Damn, that's just spectacularly awful. Melancholy seems a tame response to being back in Toronto. I get melancholic when I visit my hometown of Edmonton because, as much fun as I have visiting family and friends, it just reminds me that that part of my life is over – friends have all moved on and so have I and since that part of my life was my early and mid 20s when I was doing my BA and MA and when I met my helpmeet and we got our own apartment and eventually got married and when I have all kinds of fun memories of youthful escapades with friends it makes me sad to realize that those times are gone and can't be recaptured. Probably why I only visit once every two years!xoxo ~ Courtney

  23. Augh, what a horrible thing to have witnessed!I have melancholy in Madison and San Francisco, because they are awesome cities where I will never get to live (unless I give up my tenure job and find some other way to survive).  I still visit though.  It's just bittersweet.  San Francisco, I kees you.

  24. Isn't it odd how places and events imprint themselves on you? I never loved Toronto – it was always a place to visit, but I was so happy to get back home. I suspect Guelph would be incredibly melancholic for me – I almost don't want to go back, in case it's not as wonderful as my memories. And even though I visit Boulder every other weekend, it's such a place of strong memory for me that I always leave feeling emotionally drained.I hope your old roommate has found peace and comfort after that horrible ordeal.P.S. If jean skirts don't work for work, I'm screwed!

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