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Purgatory - Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019
Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 @ 9:38 am
I sat this morning, up early, staring out the windows across East Van. The lights blinking on the port cranes in the dim morning light. Smoke trailing from chimneys of older walk-up apartment buildings. The clouds sitting midway up the mountains. In a moment of clarity, I thought This is enough.
On all the days of wanting. Of traipsing through open houses in search of a larger apartment, of the presumed need for a second bedroom and an extra four hundred square feet. Of hours spent in the gym to build my body stronger. Of the nights spent late at work, giving my all to build my career. On all the days of wanting, I forget that this is truly enough.
The month was cold. Standing at the middle of a six acre paving project, coming to agreement with the paving contractor about quantities, a flock of seagulls moves above us in a fluid wave. The bald eagle landing on the tall lamp standard, ruffling its wings and shaking out its tail. A parade of semi-trucks hauling containers to and from the port lands. The wind fragrant with creosote. I step over the disembodied wing of a crow, a slight bone exposed so white and translucent against the obsidian feathers. I walk away from the site, finished for the day, fumbling to pull gloves onto my numb fingers, the gulls ever wheeling in circles above.
Another day, rumpled and damp from the rain and two hours of overtime. My attempt at trying to fit the Yaletown chic destroyed by carrying a duffle bag full of hard hat, hi-vis, and steel toes. My hair a disaster from pulling my hood on and off for errands. Finally standing on the train platform, bag slumped at my feet. The wind comes roaring down the tunnel ahead of the train, blowing my lanky waves across my face. The train stops, and the doors open. A wave of people exit as I step to the side. I'm about to push on, but someone is looking at me saying Hey there! and How are you doing! and Don't you recognize me?
It was Paul. I've known Paul since I was a child. We were in school together, and swimming lessons, and his mother drove me on field trips and served me hotdogs on Fridays. Paul was always around, his mother too. The grocery store, the neighbourhood, and later, just Paul, at the pubs. It was later that we began to see each other more, usually while drinking, and usually late at night. Eventually he invited me over at the end of a night of drinking. And then this boy that I'd known since he was four feet tall was undressing me. It didn't happen too many times. I knew he wasn't in it for keeps, and I knew that I was going to get hurt if it kept up. And I didn't want to ruin twenty years of friendship.
And there he is in front of me, and it's taken me an awkward length of time to recognize him, but I think I've recovered and we're doing the 30-second catchup. The platform clears around us, and the train leaves. We're standing on the empty platform, and I'm studying the changes in his face and the new way that he does his hair and the way that his voice has changed. I'm remembering that I left a bra at his house and wondering where it ended up. He's talking about his mother being sick, and I'm feeling sad. He's saying that whenever he hears about Prince George he thinks of me. I think about how our lives have been woven together, how we were born in the same hospital and attended the same schools. He looks and sounds so adult. He's lost the lean, hungry look of when I last saw him, of when I last ran my hands across his back and chest. I wonder what I look like to him. I wonder what he's thinking about. I wonder if he's hurt that I didn't recognize him the way he recognized me.
In these moments, everything is enough. In these moments, I am at home. That I can by chance run into a childhood friend and former lover in a city of 2.3 million people. That I can sit here and know that I am healthy and loved. To be so lucky to have this life.
This is truly enough.