Rooted, I used to think.

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Orca / Ocean Swimming - Tuesday, Feb. 08, 2022
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Monday, Dec. 06, 2021 @ 11:04 am

After a day of skiing, we are invited over to a friend’s house for happy hour.

We pull up into the drive, and I look briefly in the visor mirror. I don’t change anything about my appearance - there’s nothing to be done, really. Not sure why I even looked. Messy hair, wind burned cheeks.

We knock on the door, and Heather opens the door, Teagan, age three, peers shyly out from behind her mother’s legs. A quick glance into the house: toys strewn across the open expanse of beige carpet. The house is generally unfurnished, the tell-tale sign of a couple who upsized from a condo into a house, and as consequence the open space is overtaken with the detritus of a toddler. The house smells slightly sweet and slightly rank. Is that toddler smell or is that pot? Maybe both.

We walk into the rear of the house, the kitchen and family area that is lightly furnished, at least enough to socialize. Still, I sit on the carpeted floor after pushing aside a plastic dinosaur and swath of Brio.

They haven’t had guests yet. The girl is confused, put off course by the presence of others in the house.

“She hasn’t socialized much in her life yet,” her mother admits. “She’s probably a bit strange.”

I slowly seduce the girl. A glance, a smile. I pick up a toy and balance it on the edge of the coffee table. She notices immediately and laughs. “Mom, look at that!”

A minute later, the girl and I are engaged in silly play. There is a conversation happening around us, but I’ve stopped listening.

An hour later, in the car driving home.

“I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but here it is. Apparently ____’s wife isn’t sure whether you like her or not.” He’s referring to a woman with whom I’ve spent a lot of time of the last two years by proxy of his close friendship with her husband.

I sit with that for a while. Am I too guarded around her? Sometimes she asks questions that are so direct that they flay me wide open. I’m not used to being the centre of attention. I’m not used to having anyone be interested in me in such a deep way. Do I like her? Sure, of course, I like her. But I’m also scared of her.

Who played with me as a child? Who seduced me and pulled me into their lap and made me feel interesting and special? I recall a babysitter that I had for a short while, Helen. She was a large, soft woman, a teenager I guess but she seemed mother-like to me at the time. Her long brown hair that I’d twirl around my fingers. I remember her paying kind attention to me. I remember wanting to be in her lap, to lay my head on her soft bosom.

What happened to me? Did I only get attention when I was naughty?

Roots | Shoots