Saturday, Mar. 23, 2019 @ 10:48 pm
Combing my hair out in the shower in the morning, putting myself back together. Scrunching handfuls of it and twisting sections into pieces that fall in waves across my shoulders. Pulling some of it back and putting on my silver feather earrings. I invent a new outfit from my capsule wardrobe and run out the door to catch the bus.
At ten o’clock, payroll calls me, checking that I did in fact apply for an apartment and they should call the woman back to confirm my employment.
Half an hour later, my phone pings. It’s Crystal, the building manager.
“Congratulations! Welcome to The Edgemont!”
I lock my computer and run downstairs and across the street to the bank. My cheeks are flushed and it’s like that dream where you can’t gain traction because your body no longer has enough weight for your feet to grip the asphalt.
I slip the bank draft between the pages of a book and slide it into my backpack. I fob out a bike and head across town to secure the apartment. I cycle my new commute, all along the seawall, the salty air messing up my hair, blazing sun and blue skies. Everything is perfect. I’m moving towards something, my heart is full.
I ride past a slope of lawn that is carpeted with quivering crocuses. I take my hands off of the handlebars and stretch my arms wide. The sun is blinding me, and it’s that same feeling again: that feeling of completeness, wholeness, joy.
I pass a construction site where several workers sit along a retaining wall on break. My head snaps around and my eyes lock onto him. It’s Timathy sitting there eating his lunch. I pull a U-turn on the bike and call out to him. He grins and gets up and walks over to me. Big bear hug. He smells like sweat and rusty metal, and there is food on his face.
“How are you?” he asks.
“I’m great! There is food on your face!”
I was already vibrating with excitement. And then it doubles when I’m around him. I can’t explain the energy between us. How does it come to be that in the vast expanse of this city we find ourselves face to face through happenstance? He nervously wipes his face, searching for the offending food.
We talk about this and that. He is fully engaged with me. Open chest, eye contact, leaning forward. I contrast this to when I passed off the car keys with Daniel, how he crossed his arms and turned away with downcast eyes. I leave him to finish his lunch and carry on to secure my new home.
I have a physical home. One day in May, I will for the first time stand in the middle of my empty living room and gaze around at the freshly painted white walls. I will turn into the sunlight, feel the soft patina of hardwood flooring under my feet. A space of my own. A space free from the past. No corners in which I have curled while he yelled at me. How did I let that happen to me? Why did I not have more respect for myself?
“On what date are you going to move?” she asks, as I’m initialing the agreement.
“Oh, I don’t know. I will take possession on the sixth, but the big move may come later.”
“Ahh,” she replies and sits back in her chair. “Urban camping. Let me guess - you’re going to show up on the sixth with a yoga mat and a candle.”
Yes. Yes. You got me. Yet again, she finds a way to nudge me right between the ribs. I am beginning to enjoy it, the way that she challenges and exposes me.
Chris messages me in the evening, saying goodbye before leaving on a two-week vacation. I tell him about my new pink bathtub. He offers to help me move. He is steady, if overly formal. I graciously accept the steadiness.
I keep waiting to experience a complete implosion. I keep wondering when things are going to become unbearable, but everything is the exact opposite.
I can’t think of a time in my life in which I have experienced such joy, such contentment, such wholeness, a belief in myself.
I remember a time when I came close to this. The night that I jumped off a cliff into the rough ocean off Bowen Island and into phosphorescence. The shimmering diamonds falling from my hands as I swept them around me in the water. The night black and the water black and the disorientation of the stars in the sky and the stars below. And then after, pressing my damp body against Liam’s in the tent, that era where we clung to each other night after night, never talking, never doing anything beyond being tangled and sometimes my head on his chest. But even then, in that moment of wonder and joy and connection, I wanted more. I wanted him to love me in the way that I loved him. All of that joy was tempered with need.
I take my own bike out for a long ride. I settle into the accumulating kilometers, travelling across the district and up along the pipeline to the reservoir nestled in the mountains. Patchy snow on the path: I plough through some of it with a steely resolve and walk at times, my feet becoming damp with the slush.
I break at the dam, the twenty kilometer mark. It’s always cold up here, especially being damp with sweat. I sit and listen to a distant waterfall, the piercing call of a flicker. My gaze travels across the forested valley slopes. The endless fabric of evergreens.
I become shivery and mount up and pedal back down towards the city. The air warms and the forest becomes more lush with each kilometer. Sunlight slants through the lean second-growth forest. Mossy hummocks, slopes heavy with ferns - my ferns. I notice a flash of yellow and skid to a stop; the skunk cabbage is in bloom.
On my way home, I take a detour to revisit a site of trauma. It’s a simple cul-de-sac not far from where I grew up. What happened here? Last fall, we drove down for his thesis defense. I drove for six hours, most of it in the dark, stopping once for gas and once for coffee. He did not speak the entire time. There was no music. I drove and he stared out the window.
I remember becoming more and more angry as we neared the city. I can’t remember what I eventually said. I think it might have been, “I wish you’d ask me about my life.”
I knew better than to bring up the relationship on the night before his thesis defense. He was instantly offended. The conversation escalated rapidly. I pulled into my parents’ driveway and was ragged with crying, shouldn’t have been driving. I then pulled out of the driveway and over to this cul-de-sac and turned off the car.
We sat there for an hour trying to work things out. Me telling him that I felt unseen. Him telling me that I am unable to express my needs and that I don’t see all that he does for me. That he’s had a hard few years and why am I doing this to him the day before his defense. I blurt out that I don’t care about his thesis because of how it has taken him away from me. He becomes enraged and then silent.
“I can’t fucking believe that you just said that you don’t care whether I pass my defense.”
I apologize. He gives no response. I wipe off my face and drink some water, turn on the car, and drive us to the house, strangely numb and in a trance. I hug my mom, feign being ‘tired from the drive’ and we go to bed, facing away from each other and as far apart as possible in the double bed.
That’s what happened in the cul-de-sac.
I ride my bike around the cul-de-sac in lazy circles. I replay the conversation from that night, and then I step in and tell that confused and manipulated version of myself that it gets better. That she’ll be back here five months later, released from the toxicity, the abuse.
I leave and coast home to finish my ride. Forty kilometers. I feel wrung out, strong, and clear-headed. Fresh air, movement, and the forest.
Steadily, I move forward.
This - the fracture - is the best thing that has happened to me in my life.