All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

Ten positive memories…

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After the darkness and depression of yesterday, I’m due some happiness. So brace yourselves for another installment of the Ten Times to Be Happy challenge. Today, we take a look back at some of the happy memories scattered throughout my life! :)

1. Licking the bowl

Some of my favourite memories in life revolve around licking the bowl. Is there anything better in life than being handed the dregs of a cake mix and being allowed to spoon the sugary, doughy mixture into your mouth? Whenever my mum or dad made a cake when I was younger, I was the first of us siblings in line to munch on the remnants of whatever recipe was being made. And nine times out of ten, it tasted better than the actual end product!

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A young Addy, loving every second of his cake mixture munching! :p

2. This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time…

It had been a particular brutal and boring day at the North of Scotland Water Authority. I’d been working there for several weeks as a general office dogsbody. I hated the work. I hated the boring monotony of it. As the day drew to a close I decided I needed to end it with some excitement, with some happiness, before doing it all again the following day.

So after finishing work I walked the three miles to the nearest cinema where I chose to watch the film Fight Club. It felt strange watching such a film wearing a suit and tie, but as the movie progressed, I became spellbound. I didn’t care about what I was wearing or the banality of my pointless existence. I cared only about the story that was unfolding before me. When the movie finished I left the cinema dumbstruck. I walked back to the hostel that night in awe of what I had witnessed; the greatest piece of cinema that has ever been made.

3. Why does it always have to be snakes?

One of the happiest periods of my life were the three months I spent traveling the length and breadth of Canada. From May 2000 to August 2000, via VIA rail, I journeyed from Vancouver to Halifax to Vancouver to Montreal, having all manner of adventures and escapades along the way. Featuring heavily in these escapades was Annie, one of the brightest and most loveable human beings I’ve ever encountered. We met one balmy evening in the Rocky Mountain town of Jasper and became firm friends.

For a week we trekked, drove and swam our way around the various locations that made up this stunning part of the world. We boated on a crystalline lake, we bathed our troubles away in hot springs and, on one occasion, threw ourselves into a lake only to find some snakes enjoying their own dip in the water. They startled us, but fortunately, didn’t attack us. It was remarkable fun, hanging out with Annie, hours spent laughing, smiling and cajoling our way through waves of happiness. When the time came to part, it was painful, but inevitable, for nothing can last forever.

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Annie and I, moments before we discovered snakes in the water! :)

However, a month later, I decided to spend six days straight on a train in order to journey back to Vancouver to spend more time with her. It would be truthful to say that this was partly because I had fallen head over heals in love with her, but true to form, didn’t act on my desire because I found out she had a boyfriend. Such heartache, however, didn’t stop us from having fun. For seven days we tore up Vancouver. Relishing the Vancouver Folk Festival whilst sitting on a beach at sunset. Hurling seaweed at each other as we basked in the ocean. Hiking the stunning, breathtaking, Garibaldi Lake trail at Whistler and playfully threatening each other with spankings if our behaviour descended into mischievous territory.

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Annie and I; posing like the awesome pair we were at Garibaldi Lake! :)

I will never forget my time with Annie in Canada. She turned my vacation from spectacular to special and I will never forget the friendship we had.

4. Parental leave

I had been in Australia for two years. It was weird, being so far apart from my family, so when my mother and father decided to come for a visit, I was over the moon. I promptly organised for three weeks off work so I could spend as much time with them as possible.

We visited Melbourne Zoo, where my mum fell in love with the wombats and koalas. We visited the aquarium, where we all fell in love with the octopi and sea horses. With my girlfriend, Louise, behind the wheel of the car we traveled across Victoria; taking in the Great Ocean Road, Port Fairy, Halls Gap, the Grampians and Daylesford. We went for a two-day sojourn to the island of Port Fairy where we saw more koalas than you could shake a stick at and marveled at the gorgeous Fairy Penguins who come home to roost, night after night.

For three long weeks I relished the chance to be with my parents again and it showed. They informed me that they had never seen me so happy. And at that point they were right. Things were working in my life. My relationship was strong, my job enjoyable and I had been granted the opportunity to show my parents around my adoptive home. It was happiness personified, those three blissful weeks.

5. Babe, I’m on fire…

This list wouldn’t be complete without the delectable Samantha. She whom I spanked in Adelaide. She whom I spanked even harder in Glasgow. But don’t worry, she was a kinky wee thing and loved every second of her butt roasting sessions. However much I loved our time together in Adelaide, my mania riddled mind means I don’t remember it very clearly. But I remember every second of our time together in Glasgow. I remember the one liners and sarcasm that flowed freely from her mind. I remember the atrocious karaoke session to Common People. I remember her obscure way of eating Sausage and Egg McMuffins. I remember how utterly peaceful and serene it was curling up on a hotel bed to watch My Neighbor Totoro together. And I remember with crystal clarity, the fifteen minutes I spent fulfilling her lifelong fantasy to the score of Nick Cave’s seminal Babe, I’m on Fire. Which is, without question, one of the happiest fifteen minutes of my life! :D

6. The Stornoway Way

I had never been to the Western Isles before. During the months I had spent backpacking around the country this particular district of Scotland had evaded me. So when Deborah and Elle invited me to travel with them when we decided to leave the hostel that we’d been long-terming at, I jumped at the chance to visit this beautiful, rugged and inspirational part of Scotland.

We rose early one day to catch the bus from Inverness to Ullapool, where we hopped on a ferry that carried us across the Sound to the port of Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis. The hostel we checked ourselves into turned out to be a stinking dive, so a group decision resulted in us finding B&B accommodation for the second night of our stay.

We spent the second day of our adventure touring around the Isle of Lewis. Visiting the Butt of Lewis. Feeling awe-inspired by the Callanish Standing Stones and generally falling in love with this neck of the world. I loved Deborah and Elle. Not love as in sexual love. But love as in friendship love. They made me a better man. They made me like myself. And I don’t think they ever really knew of how deeply and firmly I cared for them. But they knew they made me happy. That was impossible to hide!

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Deborah, Elle and I; larking about in a Stornoway B&B! :)

7. A Link to the Past

I don’t have many happy memories of my teenage years. They were a particularly brutal, unforgiving and morose time. But I do remember with tremendous fondness the days I spent playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with Meadhbh by my side. We both relished exploring the world of Hyrule, rescuing the princess and saving the land from the machinations of Ganondorf, so much so, that we replayed it almost instantly.

It was the first time I had played a Zelda game and it began a lifelong love and fascination with this stellar video game series. To this day, Meadhbh and I play at least one Zelda game a year. Reliving those heady days of old where we had nothing to worry about bar what minion was going to attack us next! :)

8. Elephant Love Medley…

People think I enjoyed managing the backpacker hostel I was once in charge of. To some degree, I did, but it was never what I wanted to spend my life doing, and as such, I spent a large portion of that period of my life seriously depressed and borderline suicidal. However, the leaving party that marked the end of my tenure in charge is one of the happier occasions that occurred during that period.

Myself, my trusty crew of employees and several special guests from head office, gathered in the hostel’s back gardens for an evening of sausage sizzles, music and merriment. I danced like a diva to Britney’s Oops, I Did It Again. I made a fool of myself during the (expected) leaving speech. I sung a killer duet of Elephant Love Medley with Grace. However much Kathy, and her subsequent abuse, has tainted my memories of that time, she will never take from me the awesomeness of that night. The smiles, for a change, were genuine.

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Grace, Kathy and I; impressionism style! :)

9. I am come home!

After six long years baking in the unforgiving Australian sun, I returned home to the UK in January 2008. It was a return borne out of necessity. My time in Australia had descended into a pit of mental illness, loneliness, poverty, homelessness and chaos. I needed the warmth of the UK winter to soothe my soul and renew my vitality to keep fighting this crazy little thing called life. After weeks of living in my parents house I decided the time had come to return to Scotland; the country where my heart lies. I sold my possessions like a crazy Ebay obsessed person in order to afford the two weeks I wanted and, on 14 February 2008, boarded a plane at Bristol airport to fly me to Glasgow, where I would catch a train to Fort William.

This is the second blog video I made during my trip to Scotland in 2008. The first can be viewed here.

The two weeks I spent travelling my old haunts (Fort William, Glen Nevis, the Small Isles, Loch Ness, Drumnadrochit, Inverness and Stirling) were manna from heaven. They were exactly what my ravaged, lonely soul needed. For fourteen days I walked the glens, explored the festivals and threw myself back into Scottish culture. I let the music of the nation soothe my soul and the literature of the country warm my heart. Being back in Scotland, after so many years apart, felt perfect. It has, and will always be, my home. And even though we’re apart once again, I know deep down I will return there one day. It is a source of tremendous happiness, serenity and inspiration; and it will live on in my heart forever.

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and

10. Mummy and baby…

There weren’t many happy times during my homelessness years. It was a constant battle to survive each day, so there really wasn’t much time or opportunity to crack a smile and enjoy life. But amidst the pain and torment, there were moments, moments that thrilled me, moments that made me giggle, moments that reminded me that we must always seek out the joy in life.

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Mummy and baby possum

One such moment occurred late one night as I was bedding down in my park. Out the corner of my eye I spied something moving, and sat back to watch a mother possum with her baby nonchalantly roaming through the undergrowth, seeking out tasty grass to nibble on. I watched that possum for nearly twenty minutes, merrily going about its business with scant regard for the smelly, bearded man sitting a few metres away.

~ All photographs in this post are © Addy Lake ~

~ You can read thirteen more of my happy memories here ~

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