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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Tuesday, May. 21, 2019 @ 12:04 am
I stand in the dark in the middle of the kitchen and eat from a bag of chips. Mindless eating. Filling myself up, trying to fill the hollowness inside of me. The fear. The mistrust.
I realize what I’m doing and put the food away. This is no longer how you deal with hard emotions. You can do better than this. Sit with it, bear it, allow it.
I sleep heavily, waking at eight in the morning, a veil of sweat across my upper body. The room cool and echoing with bird chatter. I pick up my phone and it pings in my hand. Russell.
I didn’t mess this up.
I suggest a rainy lap of the seawall before brunch.
We run together, the rain coming and going. We subtly push and pull each other with the pace - the tenuous dance of finding a common stride. We fall into something that is pushing my capacity, and I like the challenge. We round a corner, and Siwash Rock comes into view, and he spends the next kilometer describing the geological history of the icon. I like this about him - for every moment that I am studying the plants, he is studying the rocks. When we were hiking, I knelt down and told him about the orchid that I found, the leafless and parasitic coral root. In turn, he would run his hand across a rock face and trace out the history, the sills and dykes, the feldspars and quartz and micas.
“I’m sorry, you’re probably bored by all of this.”
“I’m not at all bored. I like it a lot. Don’t stop.”
We part ways at the end of the run, and I head home to shower. I pull out my phone to look at our pace. I laugh. I was right about it pushing my capacity. We just ran a 43 min 10k.
I cycle over to his place with my front basket filled with bacon, eggs, strawberries, and a mango. He makes me coffee, and we sit at the table for an hour, slowly preparing breakfast. I watch how he open the avocado and scoops out the soft insides. Watch him dice a part of an onion, a perfectly red tomato. He watches me do the mango. I slice off one half of the fruit, score the flesh, turn the skin inside out, and begin to slice away the cubes. He remarks that he’s never seen it done that way. I hull and slice the strawberries. And finally he makes the bacon and eggs.
After, he tests me on my climbing skills. He hands me his harness and the end of a rope.
“Tie yourself in.”
I pull on his harness and and take hold of the end of the rope. It’s been twelve years since I did this last. Instead of thinking, I allow my hands to do the work. I form the figure eight, pull the free end through the two loops on the harness, and then thread the rope back on itself through the figure eight. I form the knot up nicely and pull the end to cinch it tight.
“Good. Now show me how you belay.”
I attach the belay device and carabiner to the harness. Pull the rope through the device and lock it into place. My body knows how to do this. I pull up the slack on the rope, my hands automatically falling into the comforting rhythm. He watches me carefully.
“You have good habits. Well done.”
Later, we go for a rainy walk. End up at a bar. Order drinks and food, the rain falling heavily outside, my feet wet from my poor footwear choice.
“Have you ever made pierogies?” he asks, in the course of a rambling conversation.
“Yes, sure. Of course.”
“You’ve made pierogies?! At home?”
“Yes, of course. I’m Russian on my mother’s side. The Russian food is near to Ukrainian.”
“You really are my dream girlfriend.”
We walk home holding hands in the rain. The tide high against the seawall. A low bank of white clouds behind the lush forest of the park. I feel so much myself in this moment. My skin damp and my hair a mess. I pick up a fallen yellow flower, a waxy fremontodendron, and twirl it in my hand. He places his hand at the small of my back and draws me in and kisses me.
“I can’t wait to take you out for a weekend in my campervan,” he says.