SWORDFERN
Rooted, I used to think.

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His Face - Wednesday, May. 08, 2019
Night Run - Tuesday, May. 07, 2019
Unfolding - Monday, May. 06, 2019
Gaining Perspective - Saturday, May. 04, 2019
On Being Sixteen Again - Thursday, May. 02, 2019


Sunday, Apr. 28, 2019 @ 8:43 pm
Intensity



Saturday morning, blustery with clear skies.

I lay in bed and think about my mountain bike in the basement that I retrieved from the house in the mountains.

I rise and wash my face. Drink coffee and eat eggs with my parents, the newspapers spread across the small kitchen table. Only one more Saturday here with them.

I give my bike a once-over. Check my pack for spare parts, tools, first aid kit. Layer on sunscreen.

I ride up and across the district with the suspension locked out. The blossoms are still going. I pass construction workers sitting on a curb drinking coffee during a slow grind up a hill. I feel tough. I like this version of myself: powerful, unexpected, courageous. My hair lashed into a thick braid that ends at the small of my back. Shin pads armouring my knees. Rosy cheeks and a steady breath.

I enter the woods. Shafts of sunlight through the second growth forest. Fiddleheads and mushrooms. In the distance, the sound of whirring gears and the occasional whoop, possibly fear, possibly joy. Probably both.

I ride on the uptrack and check my map. Men offer help. I take one man’s advice and head to the top of his recommended run.

I start my descent, sometimes flowing, sometimes stopping abruptly when my confidence wavers. I session sections, pushing my bike back uphill and running the trail again and again. Like practicing the piano. Each time adding a bit more on the start or the end until I can ride the entire section in one go.

I hold my breath and go across a narrow bridge, the planks barely wider than my tires. I ride a sweeping arc of boardwalk that reminds me of a roller coaster. The drop on the end is a surprise, but I’m already committed and do it without thinking. Rattle down through a section of steep boulders, the seat of the bike in front of my legs, up near my knees, somehow.

I learned a thing or two last summer, it seems, on those rooty trails in that mountain town.

I’m sessioning another section when Peter texts me. Tacos?

I take a corner too tightly, hit the brakes, become unseated and tumble over my handlebars into a mossy stump. I am wearing armour, so there’s no blood, but I know that there is going to be a consequential bruise on my thigh.

Yes! I’ll be there in 90 minutes.

I bail out of the woods through a side trail and coast down the hill towards home, my arms stretched wide in victory. This - this act of opening - is my power pose. I make good decisions from here, from this place of steady strength. When riding my bike, I am the best version of myself.

I shower, scrub the chain grease from my right calf, wash and dry my hair. Put on an outfit freshly retrieved from the abyss: a dark green top that makes my eyes glow verdantly and my favourite suede moccasins. I splurge and take a car instead of the bus across town and arrive at the taco place a few minutes before him.

I’m reading the menu when I feel him approaching. I look up. Peter. His face. I stand up. We hug. And hug longer. In the middle of a busy Mexican restaurant. I pull back. We kiss. And kiss. And kiss some more.

We sit across from each other. I grab onto his hand across the table. He rubs my palm, runs his hand up my forearm.

“I’m so happy to see you,” I say quietly.

I am eating tortilla soup and staring into his eyes. I wonder if I’m making him nervous with my intensity. I turn my head to take a bite of taco. Cilantro and smoky salsa.

We share a pitcher of margaritas. He pours the last of it into my salt-rimmed glass. The hours of biking, my light breakfast; the alcohol is hitting me in a happy way.

We walk down on the seawall, his hand tightly around mine. I’m leaning against him as we are walking. A forceful wind tangles my hair. I’m laughing and buzzed and the sunlight is bouncing off of the choppy ocean.

“Let’s go inside,” he says. I nod.

We ride the elevator up with another man. The man exits on the eighteenth floor. The door slides shut, and Peter turns to me, and I grab his belt loops, and his mouth is on mine, and he’s pressing me into the mirrored wall of the car.

The door opens on the thirty-sixth floor, and he pulls me by the hand to the door of his apartment. Unlocks the door. Pulls me inside.

I’ve never had this before, this wild intensity. We’re tangled up against the wall, and he’s unzipping my jacket, and I’m trying to kick off my shoes. Afternoon sunlight drenches the apartment. I hear Robyn telling me to embrace my intensity. I let go of everything, my hesitations, my fears. I kiss him in a way I didn’t know that I could. The fire between us, the passion. Whatever this is, it is real. The experience of raw intimacy, of unleashed passion, of burning desire. His eyes are open the entire time. And so are mine.

Later, the sun is setting in a radiant and pure orange. I’m supposed to be leaving. I lay my head on his chest, on his soft and faded t-shirt. I listen to his heart. He shifts onto his side, puts his arm around me, and I press my face into his chest. He falls asleep. I stay awake, not wanting to miss any part of this moment. My bare feet against his. The heat where our thighs touch one another. His stomach pressed into my stomach. The weight of his arm across my waist, his hand on my lower back. The smell of his body and clean laundry, the rhythmic movement of his breathing. The moment he falls asleep his body releases into softness.

He wakes a while later. We get up. I drink a glass of water, and he retrieves my earrings and bracelets from the bedside table, drops the silver pieces into my hand. Watches me put on the long silver feathers, one side then the other.

I put on my shoes. He kisses me goodbye. His hands on my lower back, under my shirt. We kiss for a long time. And then it’s not kissing but just standing there with our faces touching. He leans me into the wall, and there’s this long moment of intensity. Energy aches and radiates from my heart. His fingers on the skin of my lower back, rubbing gently. Our noses pressed together. Our eyes open and locked in contact. The orange sunset.

An eternity of time. Brown eyes. I put my hands on his face, run them back into his hair. My heart bursting and aching. I want everything at once. I can hardly bear it, I want to know what this is, what he’s thinking, what he’s feeling.

I’m afraid to ask.

***

“I feel as though this is not a very safe sport,” he says, tracing his hand across my bruised thigh.

“I know. But I think it’s good for me. Builds my confidence, challenges me. I love the learning. I love living life fully. I crave intensity. I missed so much of my life already; I can’t bear to live another moment without passion.”

“I get it. Just make sure that your helmet is on tight, OK?”

“OK.”


Roots | Shoots