It Could Have Been.

It could have been anyone. Your first love could be anyone; the next door neighbour, the brother’s friend, the best friend. In my case, my first love was the classmate. It haunts me sometimes; that haunting version of what could be versus that devastating, cold reality where you long for affection from the one person who sits across from you and feels nothing after 48 hours of feeling everything. It could have been anyone, though, that made me feel that way. And it was my first love, that led to my first heartbreak. So the results would have been the same. There was nothing special about him; his face was as ordinary as his personality which was as ordinary as his ability to crush my 21-year old soul with his 23-year old soul. It meant nothing. It could have been anyone.

It could have been anyone, that caught my eye on some idle Saturday night, with low lights and a Vancouver Canucks win, a cool dry evening in Gastown. It could have been anyone, but as soon as I walked in, I knew it wasn’t just anyone.

It was you.

Damn You, Springtime.

Damn you, springtime.

With your resurrection of nostalgia and your horrendously rude rewinding back to a cold spring where I was naive and had no idea that the pathway of the world would ever be laid out for me with neat little footprints I could attempt to follow. Damn you and your painfully gorgeous weather, your flowers, your dew-laden daffodils and smells of cherry blossoms and budding lilacs and magnolias in the air that remind me of a time when I was happy, though I can’t quite articulate which time except I know that time was “romantic”, whatever that means; to me, it might mean that blue-skied day I first popped Ryan Adams’ “Gold” into my Discman and rode the bus, allowing this sickeningly beautiful sunny music fill my bloodstream with aching beauty. Damn you, Springtime for reminding me of that pain and all the palpable joy and pain that accompanied it before and after. Damn you, Springtime for reminding me of romance and how it always seems to arrive with the bright beauty of spring – the cool nights, the open windows, the flowers and rain and melting snow, blue mornings and marmalade evenings. Damn you, Springtime for forcing me to feel romantic again.

Dreams.

            Last night’s dream was a wakeup call (irony of ironies). It was a stupid wakeup call (as dreams tend to be) but nonetheless, it was one. Stop screwing around. Stop living in the past. Stop acting like you’re 18 when you’re not. Stop fantasizing about something that you wish would happen, even though that’s not something you should wish for. Stop thinking about him. Stop pretending he’s thinking about you. Stop wishing you could have it all back, looking fondly and not-so-fondly back on the past six years negatively, yearningly, cloyingly with this whimsical, wide-eyed wistfulness about something that is dead and gone and deceased and over and out. Over. And out.

            Dreams have a way of snapping us back into reality through presenting a hyper-reality. A message-deliverer, a symbol, a sign that tells us that we’re doing it wrong. Or at least, our subconscious feels that we’re doing it wrong and is using shadowy figures who sort of look and sort of sound like people in real life to tell us this. It’s fascinating, but delivers this emptiness when you awake that only dreams can give you. Why, oh why wasn’t that real? Why couldn’t I just never wake up? Why, when he said, “I missed you”, was he really just vapour seeping into the crevasses of my brain? But maybe that’s the point. Maybe we have dreams to keep hope alive, and remind us that we hang onto memories, and they dangle and spiral feather-light from our ceilings like delicate mobiles and we reach at them with our children’s hands and fingers. And though we can never reach them, they allow us to have a moment of innocence even though our innocence in our waking lives is lost forever.

Another “Open” Letter.

Dear So-and-So:

Just checking in. I can’t really see anything you’re doing anymore or who you’re doing it with, and I’m okay with that now, having moved on and away. There was a time in my life when I realized what a complete, total jackass you were. And now, after a friend’s passing, I’ve made peace with you, at least on one level. It still led me to question though, how; how could someone I cared about, who obviously cared about me, lie to me, treat me like you treated me; you tormented me for a year, waffling back and forth between friendship and love, sex and romance, and adulthood and boyhood while I tagged along, a willing participant in all of these cat-and-mouse games. I’m older now, and so you are. In fact, aren’t you turning 30 this year? Look at us. How old we’ve grown, that we’ve left undergrad behind, and 495, and Edmonton, and that cold March snowstorm, and us.

Looking back on that day floods me with an enigmatic and confusing melding of emotions. Sometimes I feel vindicated by the fact that I ever had you; sometimes I feel humbled by those 48 hours; sometimes I feel sadness at what might have been between you and I, in moments of loneliness and sorrow still believing in my whole heart that it was you and I that were meant to be. You and I were supposed to move to a ‘bigger’, ‘better’ city and triumph in our artistic pursuits. You and I were supposed to travel together. You and I were supposed to move in together, cook Thanksgiving dinner together. It was an opportunity for both of us to be seized from the ordinary of our lives and transcend into magnetism, hyperactive new love, crushes and wishes fulfilled, and I question why; why did you do what you did and ruin that fantasy-turned-reality, that vortex of awkwardness and inner beauty and a meshing of souls? Why? The question of ‘why’ has haunted me, tormented me, to this day and I can’t really answer it, nor can/could you. You never will. ‘We’ never will. If I had a way back to you, I’d take that way and follow it, but then I’d find myself back in a place of darkness and loss and early 20s immaturity and smallness that I’ve worked so hard and long to move away from completely. In case you forgot, I distanced myself from you in the end. Not the other way around.

But recent experiences in my life have answered this question for me… how can you like someone, want to be their friend, care for them and not want to hurt them, while at the same time realizing you cannot commit to them? How can you find something inside yourself to tell that person no and yes at the same time? Can there be both a no and a yes? Can souls wander together without being arm in arm? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer, nor should you. We’re almost 30, you and I, and neither of us have answers. So why would we have answers when we were in our early 20s and still emerging from our teenage lives, the lives we spent in residence, the lives we spent coveting worries that were, in retrospect, not real ‘worries’ at all? Grappling with this gives me perspective on you. It gives me peace, and it gives me the only closure I could ever glean from you since you were so unwilling to give it. That, along with music by my favourite artist, has taught me this and only this: we don’t choose who we love. Sometimes we’re magnetized to someone. Sometimes we’re drawn in by little gestures and phrases and a brand of charisma we cannot control. Sometimes it draws us in so much we lose ourselves in it, coat ourselves in this idyllic moment of light and shadow, relief and intoxication. And only after that moment persists do we realize: no. This is wrong, this isn’t what I want. How do you rewind? I’m asking the question for both of us. The answer still stings. The answer will sting. As long as there are human beings, that answer will not stop stinging, no matter who its receiver is.

The morning after hearing your truth still haunts me to this day. I can’t think I was ever that upset, that broken, even to this day. Nothing hurt more. Because nobody has ever grabbed me and held onto me the way you did. Maybe nobody ever will. But what I learned from that moment still stands as valuable, and what I see now is the difficulty and not the audacity of your own choice to hand me that answer. We didn’t make it, but what we did make is our own lives, carved from a significant and life-altering moment. Maybe nobody will ever fit me the way you do. Maybe I will never find someone I connect with on the level with which I melded with you. Perhaps soul mates wander in and out of our lives, never to return but we’re left with their lasting effects rather than their lasting presence. If this is true, you are my soul mate whether you see me as that for yourself or not. Maybe it’s the spring, the month of March, being back in Edmonton, considering my own shattered romantic life, the one that is falling in dozens of pieces that I can’t put together without assistance right now, the mistakes I’ve made, the ways I’ve been treated, both good and bad, that have led me back to thinking about you again. There will always be a time though, to come back to you. There will always be you and I somewhere in the distant locked chambers of your memory. There will always be something that binds me to you and whether I ever even occupy the same space as you or not ever again, one thing is for certain: I get you now, and I forgive you in a way that I was unable to before, and I know what you went through with me. I owe someone else the same courtesy and the same time to just let go.

Yours,

Six.

Divisible by two and evenly split. More than halfway to a decade. A soft curving line which coils into itself. The fetal position.

Six is a long distance from something. So long, it no longer matters, really. So long it wasn’t the first thing on my mind when I woke up this morning until I realized what day it was and I thought, “Oh, today is that date.” So long I wonder why I’m writing about it, but maybe it’s because there’s a dutiful, mourning lover in there somewhere still, buried among the layers: teacher, daughter, friend, colleague, pet owner, writer, Vancouverite, Edmontonian.

It’s there. It’s always there. But each 365-day period, I make a pilgrimage to my 21-year old heart.

“The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done”

And someone might ask you one day, “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?” And when you don’t have an answer for them, you think, maybe it’s because I’ve never done something so difficult, so taxing, so incredibly grueling and painful that to live through it is a memorable marathon of an experience, a melding of personal resilience and any sign of success. Or maybe you have, and you’ve blocked it from your memory.

I’ve lived through so many hardships. So many. But were they the hardest things I’ve ever done? When I was “completed” with those hardships – bullying, particular types of abuse in forms I care not to mention, losing people never to be regained again, wondering if or how I would be hired, be fired.. I never learned much. I learned about myself as a pusher, as someone who refuses to give up or give in and just keep going. I learned about memory – its power, its prowess, its ability to linger and stalk your every thought and whim. But did I succeed after these experiences? No. I don’t think so. I think success following something agonizing, is a marker of “the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

I just did that. I just did that and maybe I was successful and maybe I wasn’t. And maybe I still have so much to learn. But, I made it through. I made it through scrutiny, disrespect, being overworked and under-slept and so exhausted my brain hurt. I made it through being told, “You can’t” and standing at the front of the room feeling as though I had no concept of what was going on or how to fix it. I have made it through irresponsibility and trying to be the role of a parent, a pusher, a mentor, a villain and a democratic ruler. I have made it through a lot. And overall, was I successful? Sometimes I felt it. Sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I questioned my abilities. Sometimes I didn’t. But did I make it through? Without tears, without quitting, without checking out, without whining?

 

Yes.

Sometimes the best thing to say is everything. Sometimes everything can be summed up in two simple sentences that are generic enough to encompass the weighing-down on the world.