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Purgatory - Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019
Monday, Feb. 29, 2016 @ 3:41 pm
Chris, Chris, Chris.
Sunday I rise early, leaving Daniel snoring in bed. I shower at dawn, loosening up my muscles, sore from the previous day's skiing. In the shower, I think about Chris. After showering and dressing, I have some yogurt and fruit, a cup of warm water, and bundle up against the rain. Walk two blocks to the yoga studio. The blossoms on the plum trees are emerging. I stop to look closely, the delicate leaves firm and fresh and dripping with the fresh rain. I want to lick them, feel the petals in my mouth, taste the cool drops falling from their perfect beauty.
I move through the yoga class, holding the postures strong, gazing through the blossom-covered tree that screens the view out the window. The teacher suggests trying a handstand. I laugh out loud. And then I try it, and I'm standing on my hands, my body firm and balanced. I'm surprised at my strength, at my grace, at my ability to do this. I move into the pose a second time just to be sure that it wasn't a fluke.
Afternoon, home alone. I putter around the house. I make muffins. I make soap. I prep lunches for the week. I prep dinner for Monday. I do laundry. In reality, I am distracting myself from thinking about Chris.
At sunset, I go out for a walk. Need to get out of the house. Rain has let up. I invent a mission and a destination for myself. I start walking, listening to music, trying to shut off my mind.
As I'm walking up through the neighbourhood, crocuses encrusted with raindrops, the sky flaming lemon yellow beneath the slate grey cloud blanket. I see a woman who appears to be blind, bashing her cane around on a tall laurel hedge. I take out my headphones.
Hello! I say to her.
She perks up. Tells me that she needs a elbow to hold and guide her to a restaurant located 3 blocks away. Can you do that for me?
Yes, I can do that for you!
My name is Rose. Thank you for helping me.
And with that we are off. She walks abysmally slow. Her hand on my elblow, her jacket a fine woolen blend of soft pink, dressed like royalty. Her skin smooth despite her age. Her mood perky and optimistic.
I pick out her accent as German. And I find out about her childhood in Bavaria, then Montreal, then a camping trip out west at age 22. And been here ever since.
She asks about what I'm interested in. About what I think about life, the purpose of it. She tells me to love. That without love there is nothing. My heart. Chris. My heart. Chris. Love.
Eventually, a half hour later, we enter the restaurant. The bar manager comes over to greet us. She is a regular. He takes her elbow and guides her to a stool at the bar. I turn on my heel and resume my mission. My mind thrown off course. Everything in the world shifted to a new reality.
I walk for another half hour, thinking. Dark settling over the city. Busses moving briskly along the Broadway corridor. Cats lazing on sidewalks, happy to be outside after the rain.
I pray a mantra, checking my phone, needing an email from Chris. I beg and beg, hoping for it to come, so that I can read it and think about him thinking about me, about his hands typing the words, for that small moment, his attention focussed fully on me.
We pick him up at 8:15am. As if we're in grade school, he stands at the foot of his driveway with his gear leaning against the cedar tree. My heart is racing. I introduce him to my Dad, and he lays his skis beside ours in the trunk and hops in the back seat. Folds his lanky limbs up like origami. I can smell him, soap and clean laundry, and I immediately remember this is Chris's smell.
We are on the slopes, and it's my first time in years. But it all comes back to me. And my body is leaner and stronger than before, and despite my outdated gear my performance is excellent. At the bottom of the run, my Dad and Chris comment on it. My Dad is in disbelief at my form and technique. I shrug. Guess you taught me well, Dad.
Run after run. I glance back occasionally to make sure that Chris is still with us. He is not a strong skiier, and he stays back a self-conscious distance. Most of the chair lifts are quads, and conversation flows easily amongst us. Three engineers sitting in a row. We eventually make our way to the peak chair. It's an ancient 2-seater. I ride with my Dad at first, and then on the second run I sit with Chris. Undivided attention. I stare at his face, his lips, will him to give something away, anything, the smallest glimpse into his heart.
I see nothing. But we talk. And it's blissful agony.
My love for him is absolute.
My Dad tires and heads to the car for a snack. We do a few more runs. Chris and me. Skiing together. Stopping to take in the view, to talk. I go through a fun little side run through the trees, and I glance back and he's followed me. I'm smiling and laughing, and I'm filled with such utter joy that I can't believe that this isn't a dream.
We drop him off at his house. Meet his elderly Dutch neighbour. We all chat about real estate. I pet her dog, kneeling down to rub it's chin and rear. I feel Chris watching me from above. We say goodbye. We do not touch. He is thanking us profusely. We make eye contact, and it holds for long enough for me to see a tiny crack of his heart. I know it. I knew it! I'm not making this up. It was real. It was there. I saw it.
Sunday evening. Still no email. I begin to lose hope.
Monday morning. Chris. I'm getting desparate. I go out to walk at lunch, an attempt to regain my composure and focus.
I return from my walk. Unlock my computer.
My email flashes.