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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Monday, Jul. 08, 2019 @ 12:03 am
We climb together on Friday night. Chalk dust across my leggings. My hands aching and yet still I continue to climb. I run into Breanne, and we chat and laugh and my heart expands with happiness. Finding my community. Here, among the ropes and carabiners, I feel safe and strong and loved.
We cycle across deep into East Van. We eat tacos and drink margaritas, our legs touching under the small table. When he smiles, the world jostles a little and my heart flutters.
He leads me to a house party. We lock our bikes together at the back of the house among the pots of mint and rosemary and geraniums. I pull a cold beer from my backpack and hand it to him. We go into the party and drink and I go off to mingle by myself, knowing nobody. I meet two outdoorsy babes and we swap contact info. I meet a young architect and he makes me laugh. I return to Russell and lean against him. He tucks his hand under the back of my shirt and rubs circles on my lower back.
We cycle home through the quiet city, singing together some old songs and racing each other past the Strathcona character houses, then riding side by side along the quiet still water of False Creek.
The next day, he comes with me to the pool at Second Beach. He watches and laughs when I ride the waterslide. We swim laps, and then he picks me up and swims around holding me, and I press my face against his warm neck and stare up at the cedar trees and out at the freighters and then back towards the city skyline. The pool - my sacred space - I invited him into this part of my life.
After showering and changing, we cycle over to a retro bar, a local’s hangout. We sit side-by-side, and I pull a leg up so that I can face him and lay my hand on his arm. We drink too many cocktails on an empty stomach. I slide oysters into my mouth and press the salty cold flesh into the roof of my mouth. A burst of courage washes over me.
“Where do you see yourself in ten years?”
“Hah. You’re hilarious. Pulling out a question like that in the midst of light conversation.”
Ultimately, he does answer, with honesty and vulnerability. And then he turns the question back around onto me.
We leave the bar and cycle across town to a street festival. We eat more tacos. Him and me and tacos and climbing, on repeat. A band is playing, and we push up to the front among the college kids and shove our backpacks off to the side and dance together. We face each other, not the band, and his hand on my hips, and my hands in the air, and then we are apart but still together, and I’m so happy to be with someone who feels music. So happy to be with someone who similarly doesn’t care what anyone thinks.
A day later, I am headed to the beach to try out my new paddleboard. He messages me and asks to come along. We meet up near his place, and we walk down to the beach carrying our boards and paddles. Launch out in English Bay right beside the Inukshuk. Paddle out around the far side of the park. Cormorants and harbour seals and freighters and rocks encrusted with black mussels. A bald eagle flies overhead. A cruise ship departing from the harbour.
Out at Siwash Rock, a group of people are having a party on the seawall. They wave at us. We raft our boards together and drink beers and dance on our boards to their motown music. I lean over to kiss him. I never want this to end.
We paddle back to the city, towards the symphony playing an outdoor concert. A chorus of violins, a reedy oboe, and the rolling of the bass drum. Hundreds of people crowd around the bandshell. We paddle up to the beach, and I run up to the food trucks to buy us a fancy grilled cheese. I stand there in line wearing my paddling shoes and a pair of technical pants with knee and bum patches, my hair in a braid down my back, among the concert-goers in their fancy hats and white trousers. I pull off one shoe at a time and dump out the water and sand while waiting for the lady to serve me our sandwich.
Back on our boards, paddling into the sunset. The symphony plays John Williams, and we laugh at the over-dramatic soundtrack to our slow exit. The sunset overwhelmingly gorgeous.
Carrying our boards up the beach and to the parking lot behind his apartment. He offers to store mine so that I don’t have to carry it back the four blocks to my place. I hug him and kiss him and don’t know what to do with all of this happiness that threatens to burst forth from my body.
“Are you happy in your life, in general, right now?” I ask him.
“Yes, I am happy. Especially since I met you.”