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Purgatory - Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019
Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013 @ 4:13 pm
It's minus two and hard pellets of ice are raining down on the city. The streets are lit amber, the snow reflecting the light, reminding me how the winter nights are less dark in the north. I run lightly down the sidewalk, cold wind biting through my tights, hood over my head, the city all quiet and slow from the freeze.
Into the studio; this is becoming my favourite part of the week. Sitting on the floor, stretching out my legs, pushing my feet into the tight canvas shoes. Pieces of ice falling from my hair onto the wooden studio floor.
And then we are up and moving and my legs are learning this and my arms are approximating the correct positions and I feel strong and graceful. We rise up to a balance on one leg, arch pressed up into demi point. I'm pressing up, suspending myself from the top of my head, pulling my ribs up and up and up, away from my hips. The instructor places her hands on my ribcage and gently pushes up even more, trying to help me feel that place of centred balance. I want to do this so badly; I want to learn this and be good at it. I want it to feel as effortless as running.
This desire is surprising to me. A self-identified introvert, I cling to the security of being a wall flower. What does this mean about me?
We continue with the counselling. Small breakthroughs, significant setbacks, it's a cat and mouse game in which whenever one person wins we both lose. I discovered one way in which my parents damaged me, which is a relevation because I always considered my literal white picket fence childhood to be about as nurturing as they come. The older I get, the more I realize that this isn't the truth at all, and that nobody escapes childhood unscathed. It seems too easy for me to blame them for this, but she explains the cognitive science behind it and that it's real. Knowing the reasons, understanding why I am reacting in a certain way, will help me move beyond my current stasis.
In the therapist's office, I sit on the couch in a cold sweat. Wondering how she will break into my soul this week. What she will expose, the raw feelings leaving me shaking and vulnurable. I've spent hours listening to her, watching her face react to me, feeling free and unjudged. The more hours that I spend there, the more I fall in love with her, the enormity of the cliche nearly laughable if the feeling weren't so real. This is what it means to be truly listened to. This is what it means to not be judged. This is how you care for someone.
One night we leave her office late, and there is a well-dressed man sitting in the waiting room. A few minutes later, when we are pulling around the corner in the car, I see them walking through the intersection hand in hand. Knowing that she just pulled me inside out and accepted my soul. I feel a surge of jealousy. I want her for myself.
A few nights later I am in Home Depot, pulling every white paint chip from the rack. When I get home, there is an email. Hey, were you just at the Home Depot? I swear I saw you there. The last time I saw him...
...hanging out drinking in a shitty apartment off Lonsdale. Nine years ago? I'm in the kitchen, and he comes up to me and presses me into the wall, and I smell the whiskey on his breath. His girlfriend is in the bedroom. He says something to me, I don't remember what. And then he kisses me, and I remember that it was good. Really good. And then his girlfriend enters the kitchen. If I wasn't particularly good friends with her before, at that moment I eliminated any possibility of future friendship. I'm not sure why I let it happen, because in effect I did. But he was the instigator, so who is the real jerk in this situation? I guess we both are. I left immediately, sensing no hope of repatriation, ashamed of my selfish behaviour, of allowing myself to hurt his girlfriend. I left and never went there again. The way that she looked at me, as if it were my fault. Her denial of the facts so obvious yet impossible to point out.
They ended up getting married and having two children. Nobody told her that he slept with one of her bridesmaids. I stood beside her our mutual friend's wedding, us matching in our lilac satin bridesmaids gowns, her ire still smoldering below the surface. Years later, they are separated. Doomed from the start, her denial clouding reality, her friends never telling her the truth. Him never forgetting the thrill of the chase.
And I stand there reading this message from him. He's asking me to meet him for coffee. I stand there thinking about those seconds in the kitchen, the feeling of the wall behind my back, the detail in which I remember that moment, from the overripe fruit on the kitchen table to the stubble on his face and the faint smell of hamster in the carpet. It's impossible for me to reply.
Back in the dance studio, the ice piling up on the sidewalks. His whiskey breath and her probing into my heart. I turn out my feet and plie. He wanted me then; does he want me now? I raise one arm to second and rest the other lightly on the barre. She overwhelms me with kindness.
She overwhelms me with kindness.