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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 @ 12:42 pm
The moment that I buy my plane ticket, I fall apart. I'm shaking and unsure. I thought that I'd feel relief at this moment.
I leave my office. I have no capacity to work.
I walk home through the snow and slush, the sun bright and my eyes struggling to adjust. I call my mother, burst into tears when she answers. I'm coming home.
I pack. I'm not sure what I'm packing for. I look at the weather in Vancouver. I scramble to the basement and bring up my running shoes. There will be bare pavement in the city.
The plane curves in along the southern border of the city. I look down at the intense suburban development. The box malls and expanses of asphalt parking lots. Green and grassy playing fields. I can do this.
I lay in the bed in my parents guest room at night. One hand over my belly, one over my heart. I lay there and let my skin and muscles loosen their grip over my bones. I begin to feel weightless, and then there's nothing. Finally, I can sleep.
I wake early. Toss around. Look at the temperature. It's time for a run.
I put on a loose long sleeve t-shirt. My summer running shoes. I step out onto the driveway and start to run.
I run up along the route I'd take to highschool. The same paths through the forest. I can't believe how good this feels, like a thoroughbred set out to pasture after a winter in the barn. The steady breathing is calming. I'm smiling.
I run a victory lap around the track at school. Flashbacks of teenage crushes and gym class. I carry on up to the dam and stare down into the canyon. Three kilometers into this, and I'm not anywhere near done.
I run down through the canyon forest. I run past an eroding slope, water seeping from the forest floor. Ferns falling from the top edge and dangling mid-air. There's a pile of rip rap along the bottom of the slope, ostensibly to mitigate the slide. It's doing nothing. It was a good idea, worth a shot, and it works in other situations... but not here. This kind of nature is untamable. This is me and him. The failing slope. Trying to hold it together but evidence pointing towards the inevitable conclusion.
I take a side loop to the fish hatchery. I run down into the viewing area, an architectural wonder of concrete that evokes feeling of secrecy, intimacy, and dampness. There's a waterfall in the middle of the grotto. The tanks of fish, sea green water, a smell of roe and blood. A Japanese maple naked for the winter. I suddenly see it as a theatre. I open my arms and connect three turning leaps, followed by a bow. I am Odette in this fishy version of Swan Lake.
Running again. Five kilometers. Six kilometers. I'm running through forest that's thick with ferns and moss. I've never been so happy running. People who run don't smile. I am smiling and can't turn it off. I conjure a t-shirt with the words FUCKING PSYCHOTIC across the front. Sane runners don't smile.
Seven kilometers. Nearing home.
I strip a leaf from a laurel hedge. I crush it in my hand as I run, then breathe it in. I will never understand perfume, so blatant and overbearing. This leaf, I press it to my nose and it evokes my dad throwing leaves over me as a child in the back yard after trimming the hedge. It's the time I spent alone as a child exploring nature. It smells like home.
Eight kilometers. Start walking.
I feel my power returning. Who am I without him? I am the person dancing in the fish hatchery. I am the person saying hi to the grumpiest of old men walking their dogs. I am sunny and alive.
Without him, I am ME.