It was 4:30 AM in the morning and my alarm was going off for the 2nd time of the day. My desire to make it this time in a city, alone. No more obligations or dependance on anybody else. Just me and Lucy, my cat. You see when I came to Calgary I arrived with only two suitcases. I had zero intentions of ever staying for longer than the weekend. Just like anything the Universe had a different plan for me. It was July long weekend and I had made the decision to drive from Vancouver to Calgary in the hopes of finding love. For as long as I can remember that is all that I wanted. Maybe it was a desire to find something that I lost long ago or maybe it was just wanting the life that I thought we all wanted. The white picket fence, the dog, cat, two kids. Somehow I still thought that I was worthy of all those things.
Rolling over on my pull out couch I was thankful for just everything. Things could have played out a lot differently for me. You see that Monday was just like any other Monday. I went to work, got off early and decided to head to the beach. My life felt like it was spiralling out of control. My (I guess he kind of still was) boyfriend just want back to prison on a breach. Yes you read that right. I dated an inmate. Looking back on that now I can’t believe that was me. Maybe I was bored, maybe I liked the idea of having somebody but not really because from 10pm to 7am I was free. There would be no angry phone calls, no making demands of my time. All that was expected of me was 3 to 4 visits a week and in return I got to drive his BMW till he got out. The first time around I waited that long. I waited 1.5 years for somebody that I should have been focused on fixing myself first.
Finally jumping out of bed I quickly got dressed made some coffee and hurried outside to open the gym. Nevermind the -30 weather my eyelashes were frozen but there was no other place I would rather have been in that moment. You see after my boyfriend went back to jail I had told him that I couldn’t put my life on hold anymore. I was 34 and needed to move forward with my life. He didn’t like that answer because that July long weekend I had no way of knowing that he had paid his friend to watch me while he was inside. This junkie got to know my schedule so it only made sense that he would break into my apartment with a crowbar and robe the place. I went from having a great day at the beach to feeling so violated. Whoever had done this had taken the time to lock up my cat. That’s how I knew my ex had something to do with it. IN addition there were only a few select items that were taken. Things that I even couldn’t find and let me tell you, I had looked. We just signed a 1 year lease when he got thrown back in. I spent many nights looking for this engagement ring that he had given his ex. I ripped apart all of his things and never found it. On the day of the robbery they were able to find that ring and a lot of other bizarre things. When my ex called he asked about specific items. All were missing and allwere gone. These same items I saw him wearing in pictures that he had posted online. Yes every once in awhile I look him up because well I don’t really know call it curiousity.
Going to work this early in the morning was a blessing in disguise. In the wee hours of the morning there isn’t alot of activity in the gym until about 10 AM. After cleaning and organizing it gave me alot of time to think, read and analyze my life. I had just finished competing in the BC Provincials Bikini Division. I didn’t come last but I probably shouldn’t have been on that stage. Looking back at pictures I can’t believe I survived that period of my life. I worked out 2 times a day sometimes 3 just to try and run away from it all. The only thing that I could control was my diet, exercise and of course drugs. I couldn’t really afford to get hungover at all. I was working 3 jobs and doing the crazy gym stuff that I started supplementing it all with coke. I never really liked who I beame when I did drugs but I was so far from myself it didn’t even seem to matter anymore. Even when I was just skin and bones nothing really mattered. I was at a low point so something had to give.
If only I could find something that would empower me. Something that was mine and could not only fix what was happening on the inside but somehow make it less visible on the outside. The idea of training for another competition began to weigh heavy on me. For so long I was told that I needed to lose more weight. That if I ever wanted to place in these competitions that I would have to supplement with steriods. Could you imagine if I did that in addition to my lifestyle. My heart would have exploded. Staring off into the distance my eyes came into focus across the street. There it was posted in the most beautifully colored sale signs. A vintage store right across from the gym. My friend came into work and we browsed through the beautiful dresses of chiffon and silks. I couldn’t believe my eyes as my fingertips traced over the tiny beading details of one dress. I paused and stared. My friend grabbed it off the rack and told me to try it on. The tag said 1950’s party cocktail dress $150. Can you believe $150. Here I was working myself ragged there was no way I could afford that. Maybe I was a glutton for punishment maybe it was the Universe showing me the way. As I stepped out into the dressing room his jaw dropped down to the ground. Even the sales lady complimented me on such a beautiful dress. I have never felt as beautiful as I did in that moment. That lil girl inside of me who was waiting to come out finally began to awoke. At first I heard myself giggle and then I was overcome with laughter. I needed this dress!! I had to explore this side of me. The final nudge I needed came when the sales lady told me that if I waited until tomorrow there would be an additional 30% off!! SOLD! When I bought that dress I knew I needed to lose another 5 to 10 pounds. Well it has almost been 5 years and that beautiful dress still taunts me from the back of my closet. My dream is to maybe wear it this year at Calgary World’s of Wheels. Just to give you an idea I am about 35 pounds away from that.
My love affair with learning all about the Pin-Up lifestyle came immediately after that. Every free moment I had became about learning as much as I could. I would read about the culture, subculture, icons, starlets you name it. Reading about the hairstyles, make-up, must haves do nots took over my whole life. The beauty of it all came when I didn’t even notice that I had stopped chasing guys. I had a new world to discover and I had no time for distractions.
That’s when I found it!! There is a community of people who dress and love all the same things that I did. I had no idea. Does that make me incredibly nieve or what. Small town girl thinking! I found a Pin-Up Contest that was only a few months away. I reached out to the co-ordinator and that is when I started to get to know the women in our community. I was very exicted but really had no idea what they were talking about. All that I knew is that I had entered a Pin-up Contest where we needed three outfits. Friday eve, Saturday and Sunday. The planning began. I had no idea what to expect or anything. I was terrified but knew that in order to achieve anything in life you had to be a little scared sometime.
When I arrived on that Friday I had my friend with me. Safety in numbers right? Like a whirlwind I met up with the show co-ordinator and was being whisked away for pictures. We were told how to smile, pose and work the camera. How super cool is that? We got to pose with super cool cars and even take a few autographs and alot of pictures. I mean we had people coming up asking for pictures. This was exactly the boost I needed. I didn’t need a man to validate who I was I could do that on my own. Still needing to expand on my horizons I kept in touch with a few of the girls. I began to volunteer within my community and took special note on all the girls I met. I was asking about lipstick shades, teasing even studying the arches of their eyebrows. This was all so incredibly new to me and like a sponge I wanted to absorb it all.
When the summer hit there was group of us who would attend local car shows. Back then there was usually Wed, Friday and of course the weekends. The best part of dressing up is the reaction you get. People love to come and watch the Pin-Ups and of course take pictures. You very much become a character to help inspire and motivate. There are many different styles of Pin-Up but I like to think of myself as the more classic traditional pin-up. I mean I am pretty much a Suzy homemaker extraordinairre with a love of fundraising mixed in. I mean I owe alot of what happened to me back then to who I am now. My journey has taken me through so much in this life. The storey I have to share I hope it can save some alot of hurt. We were never meant to make this journey in life alone. Just sometimes in life that is the hand we are dealt. Although incredibly personal you can use those lessons to help others. I think that it was I love about dressing in Pin-Up so much. When I go out into the community and my neighbors see a bright, smiley face they know that at the very least I am on their side. And I am. I am on all of yours sides. If I could change the world in a day to make the world an easier place I would. Maybe that’s why I so openly share. If I can relate to the world and the world can relate to me then maybe together we can be the change. We don’t have to move mountains just the space in our hearts. The suffering that some endure and that some endure alone is a fate worse than death. Be kind to those around you and give them an opportunity to be kind back. To label each other is to put a target on ones back. I would much rather live in harmony then a world filled with evil and hate. So why Pin-Up you may ask well it’s simple. Pin-Up saved me. I know it can save you too if you let it.
**The first picture is my very first contest and the second one is just my most recent.