Saturday, Mar. 16, 2019 @ 11:18 pm
I take the day off work and book eleven apartment viewings.
I ride the bus downtown and walk to the first one, and everything inside of me is tight. There is so much wrapped up in this – making my own decisions, the finality it symbolizes, the literal moving on. Reeling at the expense of living alone. Doing this alone, with nobody to help decipher between the good and the bad. To notice the things that I miss in a five minute walk-through.
I see three apartments, and then I take a break in a coffee shop and make a spreadsheet. The logical part of my brain needs this. The emotional part of my brain scoffs at the spreadsheet and tells me that I won’t need a spreadsheet when I see the right apartment.
Seeing the way other people live. Dirty dishes on the bedside table. Dog food on the bathroom floor. Gym clothes left in a pile in the middle of the living room. Playing video games at 1pm on a weekday with the blinds drawn. I realize that in comparison, I run a tight ship.
I ride elevators up to the twelfth floor. I walk down maroon carpeted stairs. There is a view of the side of a concrete building. There are floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive panorama of the harbour.
I am walking to yet another building and my insides collapse and I want to cry. I want to curl up in my bed and sleep away the afternoon. But my bed is 600km away in a house that is no longer my home. And so I carry on in my mission and stuff away the sadness.
I go into the library to warm up and to update my spreadsheet. The library shares a building with a community centre. A man plays ping pong solo in the lobby. Eight people are skating around in the ice arena. A man is sleeping on a couch. I use the bathroom and then head out once again.
I walk up to the eighth building. I sigh. It looks rough. I nearly turn away but decide that I’m already here and that there is a reason why I was compelled to book a viewing here. I call the manager to tell him that I’m here, and he brings me up into the unit.
I walk in the door, and I start mentally checking off my wish list. White walls. Heaps of light. A tidy, workable kitchen. View out to trees and foliage. In my price range. Hardwood floors. Walking to groceries, coffee, the library. Fifteen minute bike ride to work. I stand in the living room and need no spreadsheet to help me decide.
I view the rest of the units with more clarity. Now I have a comparison point.
It reminds me of something else that’s happening to me right now. I met someone, who I was for a brief moment unsure about. But like the apartment, I decided to trust the process. And now, months later, he’s taught me what it’s like to feel supported and cared for. His emotional support has become a benchmark.
I applied for the apartment. I am doubtful that I will get it; there were others applying before me. But if I can find one, then I can find another. And I trust that the decision will be easy when it’s the right place, no spreadsheet required.
And this is the same for the relationship. It’s fraught with complications, and I don’t know the ending, but it’s teaching me what a good relationship feels like. It might be ruining me, in some ways, his unwavering acceptance of me. I don’t know enough about this to understand if this is how it is for everyone or if this is something rare. All I know is that it’s a cool drink of water, a palm gently pressed into my lower back, a grey jay landing magically on my outstretched hand.
I’m proud of myself for this day. I put on my boots and a brave face, worked through strong emotions, walked the equivalent of a half marathon, and ultimately found clarity.
I now know what I’m looking for in a home, and I now know what it feels like to have emotional intimacy.
I am again house sitting. I walk over to the aquatic centre. I pull on my practical black bikini and my yellow flip flops and walk out onto the pool deck. Two entire lanes are empty; my heart leaps. The glassy water beckons.
I ease into the water from the bulkhead. Goggles on. Two warm up laps.
On the third lap, I place a pull buoy between my thighs, which levels my body and pushes my face deeper into the water. I like how immobilizing my legs simplifies the exercise. Arms and breath, arms and breath. I count my strokes from end to end. Many laps later, I pause and cling to the bulkhead, my breathing quick and my arms aching. The pace clock tells me that it’s been twenty five minutes. I used to barely be able to do three strokes in a row; I think I’ve become a swimmer.
Later, I sit in the hot tub and study all of the tattoos, the curved and soft body parts, the way that the children hang off of their parent’s arms.
The diving platforms open. I watch a boy walk with practised precision to the end of the high tower. He folds over and places his hands on the edge of the concrete. Then his lithe muscled body pulls up into a handstand, balanced skilfully five meters above the water surface, his chest taught and quivering, the ribs and muscles defined like a yearling racehorse. His body falls backwards in a soft arc, momentarily suspended in grace, and then his body whips into a pike and he rotates and slices headfirst like a knife blade into the water.
The next boy, portly and wearing a sagging t-shirt, leaps from the one meter board with little consideration, holding onto his nose with his right hand, and generates a tidal wave upon breach of the water surface.
And I love them both with equal ferocity.
Back in this house. The house where I sent him an email telling him that it was all over. Where I listened on the phone to him digesting my news. Where I collapsed onto the kitchen counter with aching hollowness, questioning myself, experiencing the searing tearing away of half of my heart.
My heart is growing back together. My empty parts are finding ways to be filled.
I make dinner and relish in the simple tasks that I haven’t done in weeks. Slicing a tomato, sauteing an onion, grating a carrot. Scanning through the spice cabinet and pulling out a combination of dusty jars that suits my mood.
Later, I lay on the couch and read.
Minnow, the sleek black and white cat, jumps up and places her paws onto the soft part of my belly. Kneads few times with purpose, then climbs on. Places her paws on either side of my neck, her chest on my chest, her whiskers brush against my face. Her gentle purrs against my sternum. I kiss her silky head.