SWORDFERN
Rooted, I used to think.

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Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2006 @ 11:38 am
Cottage Life



It is noon on Sunday. I stand outside of the truck bays at the Port Coquitlam Costco. It is no longer raining, but this is not the end - the rain will continue to fall each day in this month-long monsoon-like deluge.

Daniel emerges from the concrete building, forehead creased from the elastic of a hairnet. He kisses me; he smells slightly rusty and his nose is cold from working inside of the meat locker.

We have lunch in the White Spot, and the rain begins to fall again. Across the soups and salads, I memorize the geometric shapes of his overalls. The rectangular braces, the round fastenings, the square breast pocket. Clipped onto the pocket is his phone, a Sharpie, a pencil and a yellow tick tester. Flannel plaid shirt: more squares.

You're the best, he tells me, You're just great. Where did I find you? In my head I hear: I love you.

The rain continues through the night. He's in my bed, in the cottage, and the rain is loud on the roof, overflows the gutters and lands heavily on the walk. Where our skin touches is warm and slightly damp. In that bed is like swimming in a bioluminescent ocean: a hundered million stars flashing from my fingertips; I could die there in bed, and be happy in that moment that I found what I was looking for in life.

On Monday morning the streets are flooded. I drive down to the border, wade through the mucky paddocks and curry the mud from Poncho's neck. Clean shiny yellow hair beneath the blanket. A barn worker sees Poncho try to nip my hand as I clip the halter into the crossties. The short beady-eyed stableboy walks over and gives the horse a firm punch in the nose, cursing the horse and uttering commands in a loud whipser. I look away, embarassed and upset, angry that I wasn't given time to communicate to the horse that biting is not ok.

I stand on a box watching the autistic boy ride Poncho around the arena. They walk past, and we look at each other. The boy turns around in his saddle to hold the delicious eye contact for just three more seconds. The rain buffets against the corrugated roof and walls. He snaps around, looking through the walls, fearful of the storm.

It must be frustrating to not be able to talk, says the woman beside me. I see her every week but this is the first time that I've actually looked at her. She is small and mouse-like. She could be my age, she could be ten years older. The skin around her eyes is smooth but there is a tiredness about her, a weakness of body and spirit. Too quick to please. I think to myself that this boy talks constantly, just not with his voice. I think that he doesn't know what it is like to talk, so he is not at all frustrated. After all, I'd just had a conversation with him. I say out loud, Yeah, I guess so.

I carry out the polite sort of conversation that us talkers are supposed to have. She works in a chocolate shop way up the Valley. She has a thin triangle nose upon which her wire-frame glasses perch delicately. She looks awkward in her not-quite-right barnyard clothes. Beside her I feel huge, strong and full of light.

Sometimes I am surprised at who appears in the bathroom mirror. Sometimes I hug Daniel from behind and stand on my toes to look over his shoulder to see what we look like together. I wonder if I look like my Grandmother Ruth. I wonder how I turned out to crave country and rubber boots and how my sister ended up living on the pish-posh side of downtown with a closet full of sling-backed heels and Coach purses.

She came out to see the cottage once. She drove forty-five minutes from her glass room in the concrete downtown core and stepped carefully around the muddy puddles of the driveway. After a brief inspection, she summarized: It's not as bad as I'd imagined. I sat at my wooden kitchen table with a cup of tea while Daniel sat on the floor re-stringing my guitar. She sat opposite me at the table still wearing her fur-trimmed city coat. We talked for a while, maybe ten minutes, and then she went to the bathroom and then started to put on her spike-heeled patent-leather boots. Daniel looks up, What, that's it?!

After she left Daniel says, She's a funny one. She drove all the way out here to stay for just ten minutes? I shrug. It was really more of an ogling than a visit. She laughed one time, and said that I live in BFN: Butt F*ck Nowhere. Laughing, laughing, laughing. But it isn't like that. She knows me well, and she knows that this cottage for me is bliss, and all she wants is for me to be happy. Still, that doesn't stop her from getting a good laugh out of my 'strange' life-decisions.

When my parents come for an ogle my mother asks about the sketch hanging on wall in the bathroom. I tell her that I drew it. She doesn't seem to quite understand at first. Dad plinks away at the piano. They are both awkward because it really must be wierd, to see what your children turn into when they become adults.

I would really like to know if they can be happy with me if this is what I become. I want to know if they can see that I would lose happiness if life sped up, if I were a pharmacist or doctor or something brainy like that. I push them out of my head - those thoughts that I should be something great. Or else I change the thoughts, and they tell me that I am something great, in a small way, because I have found a way to survive and be happy on the edges of this city.


Roots | Shoots