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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019 @ 10:51 pm
I walk towards the counselor's office. The freshly fallen snow is greasy under my boots. Each step is perilous. My foot slips out from under me. I catch myself. I slow down and adjust how I walk. I realize that this is me right now - my world is shifting around me, and I have to learn a new way to travel.
I sit down on the couch, and she asks what's going on. I take a deep breath.
"This is going to be a big one," I preface. She hands me the tissue box.
I let it all out. All of it. The smashed door. The "fucking psychotic" accusation. I describe the scene of me curled up in a ball on the floor crying, with him standing over me yelling at me. The fire in the woodstove. My flinching at his touch. All of it. ALL OF IT.
I look up and meet her gaze.
"Do you have somewhere to go?" she asks.
She talks me through the reasoning and goals behind taking a break. She asks me hard questions.
"Is there anything left to rebuild?"
"Can you see yourself being intimately attracted to him in the future, if he were to change his behaviour?"
She asks about the early part of our relationship.
"I was attracted to him because he was particular and exacting. He had high standards and chose me, and that meant that I was special. But then when he started to be critical of me, I felt ashamed and unsure of myself. I began to work on myself, to make myself better, with the aim earn his favour."
"And now?" she asks.
"And now I know that I am good enough. I know that I do not have to be any different. I am lovable the way that I am. Now I see his exacting standards as being a personality flaw that erodes his enjoyment of life. I mean, it's good to value quality and precision, but there needs to be moderation. Room for error. Acceptance and grace."
"What you are describing," she says, "Is temperament. Temperament does not change, at least not quickly or significantly. Do you like his temperament? Does the current version of you like his temperament?"
"Shannon. His temperament will not change."
We sit in eye contact for a long moment. I feel fear. I feel relief.
"Please call me before you leave, even if just for coffee. I want to see you before you go," she says.
I go out at night to ski. There is fresh powder on top of the groomed base. I take my poles but leave my headlamp in the car. I know the trails well enough. I want the excitement of the bottom dropping out, of the heightened senses of blindness. I skate and skate, pushing myself on the uphills, softly coursing through the powder on the downhills.
I am thirsty. I am on the dog loop with no light. I cannot eat snow from the ground.
I ski up to a tree with low limbs. My hands trapped in my pole straps, I put my face up to a patch of fresh fluffy snow suspended on a bough. I push my face into it and fill my mouth with snow. It tastes like evergreen resin and fresh air. The sensation is intimate, and my mind flashes to wonder what it would be like to kiss someone again. The under layer of crusty snow like a beard against my cheeks. I go back for more.
A plow grinds past on the highway beyond the forest, jarring my attention away from the tree. Sparks exploding between the blade and the asphalt. I watch the strip of orange fire fade into the distance.
There is nothing left to rebuild.