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The Birthday Dance - Friday, Dec. 20, 2019
Thursday, Aug. 01, 2019 @ 11:30 am
Each day this week, my alarm goes off a half-hour early, and I wash my face and lace up my running shoes. I run down to the end of the street and into the park, around the lagoon where the ducks paddle and nip at the water surface with their flat beaks, into the forest to bathe in the ferns and tall firs, then along the beach to smell the redolence of low tide.
I need the running to bear my loneliness. I felt myself spiralling. My nails bitten to the quick. Standing in front of the freezer eating ice cream from the container. All of this because Russell is away visiting his family in the prairies. At first, I was fine - busy hiking and cleaning my apartment - but then things shifted. I discovered that I really missed him.
I never missed Daniel. I enjoyed his absence; I felt free without him around. With Russell, the distance in a sharp pinching at my heart. I fight it and fight it. Only when my legs are pumping and my breath coming fast in and out of my lungs, past the blackberry bushes studded with heavy black fruit and the fat squirrels leaping across the lawns, does the aching subside.
The day that Russell left last week, he handed me the keys to his ocean-view apartment.
“Have some friends over to watch the fireworks,” he urged.
I stood there holding his keys in a stupor. I trust you.
Last night, I walked over to his place with his keys in my pocket. I walked down the middle of Denman St and used the yellow road marking as a balance beam, did a cartwheel along the paint line and carried on walking in the river of humans moving towards the beach to watch the fireworks. I wandered through the throng of people gathered at the beach. I danced at the DJ tent, then scampered up into his apartment.
Opening the door to his apartment, a moment of intense clarity. Where am I? How has this come to happen? I stand on his deck and send him a message. He tells me to help myself to the scotch, to spend the night in his bed, that he will be dreaming that he’s with me.
Alone, the concussions from the fireworks pummel through my chest, punctuating that aching spot and working it through. I watch the sky fill with light and smoke and cry out in appreciation. He wishes he was with me.
When the fireworks are over, I go into his bedroom. I lie on his messy bed and shove my face into his pillow and breathe him in. I pull the sheet over me and think about his hands and the feel of his skin against mine, how he holds me tightly through the nights.
Hold, Hold me close and never let me go. Hold, Naked as I am, so I am. And I'm too tired to pretend that I'm strong enough on my own.
I walk home in the aftermath of the event. A helicopter swoops low and aggressively with a searchlight, scanning the rooftops of the apartment buildings. A dozen police officers carrying assault rifles at each intersection. The dump trucks parked across the roads as immovable barricades.
In the morning, after a stiff run along a new trail, I respond to Daniel. I respond with compassion and apology. I try to be a good human; I try to love everyone, despite their traumas and trespasses. I try to give him what he needs. God knows that it will never be enough.
I sit at my desk eating a black plum, and the juices running down the back of my hand and my mouth flooding with the tart sweetness. I taste the sunlight and feel it becoming a part of my body. A lightness, a rosy glow on my cheeks, a slight upturning at the corners of my eyes.
The fireworks and him missing me and the plum on my tongue.
The money was distributed yesterday. It’s all over.
This is the first day of a new phase of my life.
The sunshine phase.