SWORDFERN
Rooted, I used to think.

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Ski Lesson No. 1 - Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023
Messy Hair - Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023
Lotusland - Monday, Jan. 23, 2023
Trail Encounter - Monday, Jan. 16, 2023
Ski Instructor Training - Monday, Jan. 09, 2023


Thursday, Jan. 05, 2023 @ 4:19 pm
Winter Break



They are thanking me for applying for the position and accepting their interview request. I look at their faces through the screen, and I can tell that they like me. It’s similar to dating. I observe the warmth and softness and eagerness in the face of a man who would like to see me again.

I thought that I’d changed my mind about the position, but maybe I’m changing my mind again. I feel a sense of loyalty to my current position, but I can’t deny the excitement that was growing within me during the interview. Feeling wanted, feeling needed, is so damn compelling.

***

On a cool, dry evening, I cycle to the climbing gym. The industrial road leading to the gym has sprouted a collection of tents and campervans over the last year. The boulevards are becoming littered with discarded items: sodden sleeping bags, a colourful confetti of insulation from stripped wires, empty food containers.

A man reclines against his belongings, the skin of his arm bare to the cold. My eyes focus on where he is looking. To the needle that he is inserting into his pale, thin arm. The skin so white, the syringe surprisingly long.

In some ways, I envy the simplicity of escaping the agony of existence with the simple injection of a drug. But then again, by avoiding pain, you also avoid joy.

***

I walked past the old, brown house in Revelstoke on Christmas Eve. Russell by my side.

The house was purchased by the town pharmacist. I stand out front in the calf-deep snow and look at the cars crammed into the driveway, the windows steamed up. I feel surprisingly numb, indifferent.

I carry on down the hill to the yellow house. The blinds are open, and I can see through the living room into the kitchen.

I spent one Christmas in each of those houses.

We became stuck here, in the town where my relationship came to a brutal yet necessary end, due to a large snowfall that threatened to shed from the mountains onto the highways in dramatic and dangerous fashion. To protect the public, the highways were closed until the avalanches could be triggered with explosives and cleared.

Russell held me tightly as we fell asleep in a lumpy queen-size bed in a wayside motel. I’d hung the stockings on the microwave, filled them with sundries from the grocery store. Walking the aisles of the store filled with frantic Christmas Eve shoppers. Some aisles already becoming stripped of their goods, as happens when word gets around that the roads are closed. No bananas, no eggs, no lettuce. So familiar is this store, yet I feel strangely distanced from it.

***

We were home on New Years, having driven home from Calgary in a marathon twelve hour journey. We unpacked the car and settled onto the couch with cocktails with an hour to spare before midnight.

At midnight, we stood on the balcony, and I handed him a lit sparkler. The ocean lapping on the beach below. Fireworks being set off on the larger beach in the distance. A drifting song, Auld Lang Syne, from a group on an adjacent balcony.

***

My life is full and warm and engaging, and I feel so very content.


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