Tag Archives: dreams

Shaking my confidence daily

“Desire” by Pino
http://www.pino-artist.com


I was just thinking…wondering, actually, how many blog posts I’ve begun with the word “Sometimes”. Because I was just about to begin this one with that particular adjective. Not that that matters; I was just wondering.

This is tough to explain, but I’m going to try to do it anyway. I became very close friends with a clever, vivacious girl who was quick to laugh and whose company I enjoyed very much. Looking back now, with the clarity of many years and rather a lot of distance, I understand that I was in love with her a little.

A lot.

I didn’t have a lot of language to describe the feelings I had for the girls and women I had crushes on. It’s not that bisexuality wasn’t a thing, and it’s not that I would have been afraid of the label. At that time, I was fairly active with LGBT folks…but rather it’s that I wasn’t prepared for how that relationship changed. How it went from ‘casual acquaintance I met through a friend’ to ‘someone I couldn’t stop thinking about’.

I fantasized about her frequently. This seemed normal to me also. When watching a romance plot in a movie, I usually fancied myself in the male’s role, and my friend – my crush – as the female lead. She was one of the first of my female friends I was physically and emotionally attracted to in a romantic sense. My feelings didn’t trouble me, but I wonder now if that’s because I didn’t recognise I was falling in love, or if it’s because of something else.

We spent most of our time together for a summer, and when I was home from school, I spent my free time with her. I’d ditch my boyfriend to see her, and didn’t clue in when he got jealous of the time I spent with her. I..don’t clue in to a lot of things.

Like when she moved out of her house and started dating a fellow, I was ragey. I didn’t know why I was ragey, but I was. Now I realise it’s because I was jealous. Granted, that fellow was a total douche, and he treated her horribly. But she also developed this habit of ditching the people who cared about her the most in favour of someone she thought was cooler, or who would be more fun. We’d make plans together, and at the last minute she’d cancel them because someone she’d met through her boyfriend wanted to go drinking. Or she would put off making a decision about spending time with her “best friends” until she heard whether or not the plans with the ‘cool kids’ were going ahead.

I accepted this behaviour, for the most part, because I loved her. Because I forgave what I thought of as little idiosyncracies, little slights. I tried to pretend I wasn’t upset with the way her boyfriend treated her. My standards might have been skewed. I might have thought fairly regularly of all the ways I’d treat her better than her boyfriend did. Even as I was stepping out with a new boyfriend of my own.

broken-heart-photo-from-www-21stcenturypoets-com_1Eventually, she broke my heart. It still hurts. It hurts more than almost all of my failed romantic relationships, partly because I never did tell her how I felt about her (very similar to the first person I fell in love with, actually). Partly because I was, and am, shocked at the utter disdain with which she treated me at what would become the end of our friendship.

She accused me of lying to her about a trivial thing. She accused me of being selfish and unthinking and uncaring of her own situation. She came up with every excuse in the book for why she could not uphold her end of a shared living arrangement, when if she had simply told me she’d changed her mind about part of it, we could have come to an alternate agreement. I don’t know if that would have salvaged our relationship or not, but I like to think it would have made a difference.

At the end, she had neither the grace nor the bravery to be honest with me, nor to be straightforward. She had her parents deal with uncomfortable details like the actual breaking of the contract on her behalf. I should be very clear here that nothing romantic ever happened between us, and I never told her how I felt about her – mostly because, I suppose, I never knew myself. So to this day, I don’t really understand why she did what she did.

I spent weeks – months, more likely – in tears because of what I thought of as her betrayal. My lover was confused; to him, it was a simple change of plans. He acknowledged that she’d been rude and petty, but he didn’t understand why I was so upset. So angry. So sad. He said, “just let it go; it’s not worth your time or all of this energy and emotion. She’s not worth it.”

I suppose I’ve never forgiven her either. It seems so trivial on the surface; she broke a promise and that ended our friendship. She never apologized. In fact, she claimed our falling-out was my fault for not understanding what she had not made known. Not even a simple “I’m sorry” unless it was followed by “but you”. No apology for breaking the promise, not for hurting me, and certainly not for breaking my heart (she never knew she held it in the first place). She was brazen and self-centred. She was a narcissist and a hedonist. She was quick-witted and full of life and beautiful.

She’s not worth it.

I didn’t then, and still don’t, open my heart easily. When I do, I tend to give everything. I trusted her implicitly and explicitly. I believed in her. I respected her. I suppose what hurt the most was that she could just…cast me aside so easily.

victorian_house_by_sarah3318 I mention this now because I dreamt of her last night. It was the first time in many, many years I’ve dreamt of her. I visited her in a sprawling, Victorian home near the sea. Many of the rooms were made up like nurseries, and when I asked if she was expecting, her eyes filled with tears and I suddenly knew she’d miscarried.

She was not as young as she was the last time we spoke; she’d aged, just like I have. I know her husband, and halfway through the dream he came home as well and we shared laughter. But I was uncomfortable with him. I felt like he could tell just from being near me that I had loved his wife once. That more than likely, I still did.

Her back was to me as she prepared desserts for us to share, and I watched her. She still moved with an awkward sensuousness, that of a dancer forced to wear heavy workboots. She worked without speaking, and I took in every movement, every nuance of broken grace. I felt my throat tighten and heat come to my cheeks. I bolted from the table, up the stairs to the bathroom and washed my face in cool water.

The voice at the door moments later was her husband’s. I told him I was fine, that I’d be down in just a moment. On the way back downstairs, I touched every wall and turned every doorknob. Then she was there in the nursery with me, laughing at something I’d missed, and although I wanted to laugh with her, I was overcome by her cruelty once more. I turned my back on her, told her husband it had been good to see him again and wished him the best.

I woke with the familiar pain of her turning away from me searing my chest. With the knowledge that the reason it hurt so much was because I loved her. That I was having to accept how much I cared before I could ever accept that there was no way she could have returned my feelings. That it was precisely because of how deeply I loved her that her complete disregard of me (not just of my feelings, but her complete turning away from me) tore me up. Essentially, she broke up with me, and we’d never even dated. She made it very clear that her new friends were cooler, more exciting, and more dear to her than I was. And it was easy for her to do that. It was easy for her to just…walk away.

It has never been easy for me. Not since that day nearly 20 years ago when her father phoned me up and told me that she had changed her plans. She’d lied to her dad (a man I thought, up until that moment, a great deal of) and had told him that I’d pressured her in to making a decision (I’d not talked to her more than twice about this, and neither time had I demanded anything of her), so when he had me on the phone, he berated me for being unfair to his daughter. He told me he thought I was better than that. He told me he never thought I’d treat his daughter that poorly. I didn’t even try to defend myself. I just listened to what he said, tears burning paths into my face, and said “all right,” at the end of it all.

I have seen her once since then. Twice, if you count last night’s dream. We were never again friends. I lost far more than she did.

 

Insane in the Membrane

So, one of the things I love is swimming in lakes. I also love swimming in oceans. I have never tried swimming in a sea, but I’m sure I’d love that too. We’d spent the day kind of at the beach. The boys were all fishing, and the water was so clear that I could point to schools of fish and say “there’s a school of pickerel heading your way; huge jackfish, two o’clock”. I think I even saw a sturgeon, but it’s tough to tell because it was pretty deep in that particular part of the lake. It was as clear as the lake in Prince Caspian; as clear as Thoreau’s Walden Pond. And it was golden in the sun and emerald green out where the sturgeon hid.

And I have to tell you, the guys were awesome. They’d rigged up a rather intricate (for beach-side horsing around) pulley system by which they’d drag us on an inner tube through the water, via an ATV on the grassy shore. We had…a considerable number of collisions. Nobody seemed to mind. I was the only girl there. And in case you’re wondering if the fellows from Duck Dynasty are as awesome in real life as they are on teevee, I’m here to tell you that they most certainly are.

After our day at the lake, we went back to Phil and Miss Kay’s house where everyone was staying for the summer. In the middle of the night, I woke up because I had to go to the loo (owing to all the water I drank at the beach of course, and throughout dinner), but I didn’t want to wake anyone by flushing so I snuck outside to use the biffy in the back. Of COURSE they have a biffy in the back. Have you even ever *watched* that program?

Well at one point, I walked by a tree that was covered in cobwebs. I didn’t really mind; I skirted around it, but by the time I was on my way back, I was in an alley and the tree was in the middle of the alley and there were high, dense caragana bushes to either side of the tree so the only way I could get past it to get back to the house was to duck underneath it. On the one side was a ridiculously enormous spider that kept *looking at me* every time I considered ducking under its web. It looked at me with malicious intent. It was all “go ahead, emmer-effer. Walk under my web. I mean, this spider was GIGANTIC. At LEAST the size of both of my palms put together. And it was sentient. So…

I didn’t want to take my life into my hands, so I examined the other side of the tree. It was covered in cobwebs, but it looked a lot safer, so I blasted through and began brushing the cobwebs off as I walked up the path to the door. Under the orange glow of a sodium lamp, I noticed that bits of the web were still clinging to me. I tried brushing them off, but they moved. It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d walked through the spider’s nest. I was now covered in millions of baby sentient spiders.

Some people would have the wherewithal to somehow strike up a favourable relationship with the spider babies. I, however, began making that half-croaking, half-whining sound you make when your legs are about to turn to jelly. It’s the “I skipped all the preliminary parts of the flight-or-fight response, and now I’m just going to lay down and die” part of your monkey brain fighting with the “eff that noise, I’m’a light myself on fire first” part of the lizard brain. I managed to get into the house, figuring that all I really needed was a scalding hot shower and that would drown the frigging spider babies. I did not feel the least amount of guilt at annihilating millions of sentient life forms, and I thank you for that, Captain James T. Kirk.

But because Willy and Jase Robertson and I had been out drinking the previous night (after the beach)…well…actually, they were the ones drinking. I was just watching their beards…the lavatories in the house were all…occupied. The only one left open was Phil and Miss Kay’s private lavatory. I didn’t want to wake them, and I knew they’d been watching television (I’d seen it through the window out back as I went to the biffy), so I snuck into their master bedroom and into their en suite.

With the lights on, it became apparent that it wasn’t spiders I was covered in, but millions of strange black beetles with hourglass-red markings on their carapices. Yes, I realise that normally that would be a black widow thing, but these were beetles. I could hear the clicking noise their chitin made as they shuffled their wings. And when I brushed at them, they’d fly away and then land on me again. That’s when they started to bite.

I got my shirt off without all of the bugs getting in my hair, and I managed to shimmy out of my shorts and underthings (I don’t know why I was sleeping fully dressed. It was, quite honestly, the weirdest part of my dream). Just before I was about to step into the shower, the door began to open. I leapt behind it and peered around to see Phil Robertson standing there, scowling his scowly scowl.

“I went outside,” I told him, near panic tears. “And walked through a cobweb and now there’s all these beetles, and they’re horrible and…”

He lifted an eyebrow, glanced at my pile of clothes crawling with beetles, and looked back at me.

“Also, I’m naked. I don’t know if you care about that sort of thing. I don’t.”

He half-shrugged, walked over to the counter and opened what I thought was a cupboard. “Get in here,” he said. “I’ll fix this all up.”

I didn’t think it would be prudent to argue with Mr. Phil Robertson, so I ducked inside this cabinet, which turned out to be cramped, but not entirely uncomfortable. The doors were a smoky glass, kind of like a sauna. I heard a popping sound, then a hiss, and the little room began to fill with smoke. Somehow, I could breathe just fine, and I watched as the beetles began to fall off of my body and writhe on the floor. Some had attached themselves to my flesh, and I had to scrape them off with the side of a piece of wood. I pulled out the ones that had attached themselves to my scalp, and to the back of my neck, taking chunks of flesh with them.

I stayed in the smoker box until all of the bugs were dead and off of my body. When I got out, I showered off and asked Phil how to clean the smoker box out. He just shook his head and said, “don’t worry about that, now”, and shooed me out of his room. I headed outside, eager to sit in the sun. And to my surprise, discovered that the Robertson house was situated on a college campus. A college campus with a large Roman stone amphitheatre. A college campus with a large Roman amphitheatre which was currently being used to produce Monty Python’s “King Arthur and the Quest for the Holy Grail”. Through which production I was now walking.

Knowing much of that particular production by heart, I recited some of it with the actors as I made my way across the stage. At the other side, I found my co-worker, and we sat down together to have coffee. She took one look at me and commented on my somewhat harried appearance. This was when my legs began to itch. I leaned down to scratch them and found that the skin was coming off.

Not in little flakes, either. The skin on my legs had been thoroughly cooked in the smoker, and was now crackling like turkey skin and coming away from the dermis beneath. Underneath, my dermis was pink and tender. I crackled the skin and slid my fingers beneath the rough surface to separate it from the new skin. I noticed, however, that the joint around my knee had come apart – not unlike what happens to joints of meat when they are roasted – inside were several pieces of tinfoil shoved into the joint itself, and the meat around the joint was teeming with maggots.

“Oh, hey, look at this,” I said to my co-worker. “My leg is full of maggots and tin foil and my skin’s coming off! Isn’t this cool?”

She did not think it was cool.

Museum Games

The road to home was frightful
But the whiskey was quite delightful
Home we did not go
Let it snow, blowing snow, blowing snow.

His Nibs and I had a mini-versary last night when there were DIRE WARNINGS about the state of the highways around the city. It was all very Stephen King. “RCMP advise you to NOT LEAVE THE CITY. Travel is NOT SAFE IN ANY DIRECTION. NOT EVEN STRAIGHT UP. RCMP further advise you not to burrow under the city like so many moles.”

Okay, those last two sentences totally weren’t on the advisories, but they ought to have been.

We could have taken the roads. We could have crawled home at 50km/h, trying to see the lines on the road and doing our best not to slide off the highway or follow the arse end of the car in front of us into the ditch. But instead we chose to have dinner and stay in a lovely hotel and have a mini-versary. In other words, we took the road less travelled. And that made all the difference.

I woke up in a museum. It was a Western Development Museum type place, with the majority of the exhibits out-of-doors. I woke up in a cot in one of the pioneer-village buildings. Smarty Pants was there also; he was directing people outside on the wooden sidewalk that ran past the little window of the bedroom, down below, on street level. I looked outside into the late autumn sky, and then down at the wide dust-strewn street below and was surprised to see so many faces I knew.

As it turned out, Smarty Pants and I were running a game together. This was either the beginning of the game when people were just showing up, or it was the end of the game when people were slowly dispersing. I ran downstairs to join him, and grabbed two tin cups of steaming coffee from the bartender (played by Kovbasa, who hasn’t updated his blog in a REALLY long time).

Out on the boardwalk, Smarty Pants was leaning against the wall of the Inn, rather than sitting on the long wooden bench below the window. I wondered briefly how I’d seen him here, under the walk-out balcony from the Inn’s second floor, when I’d been looking through the window of a room that didn’t open on to the balcony, but the fact didn’t concern me overmuch, and I soon forgot about it. Smarty Pants, looking debonair in his jeans and striped cambric shirt, wore a leather vest with a Sheriff’s badge pinned to it, and a black Stetson pulled low over his eyes. He was directing traffic by waiting until someone made eye contact with him, then nodding in the direction he wanted them to go. It was amazing.

He took the tin cup of coffee and winced at his first sip. The coffee was hot. “What’s the score?” I asked him.

He nodded toward the smithy. “I’m sending most of them over there to get their equipment sorted out. The ones that are already kitted out, I’m telling to head on in to the tavern here. We’ll get their character sheets and whatnot to them all at once so we don’t have to repeat ourselves.”

I laughed.

“Right,” he said, and winced again as he sipped his coffee. “So we don’t have to repeat ourselves too much.”

Snoozy and her Chairooby were there, Snoozy in her green brocade polonaise and Chairooby in the getup he donned for their wedding (along with some seriously amazing mutton chops). The Geek who Cooks and Marxymark had also come, both in period-appropriate and very fetching costume. The Geek who Cooks (TGwC) wore a lovely white linen chemise, tightly corseted in red brocade, with a full-length red and black walking skirt, while Marxymark had on a bit of a pretentious smoking jacket (if you must know the truth) with ruffed collar and sleeves, a striped waistcoat and trousers, and he had his pipe, which highlighted HIS mutton-chops quite nicely.

…at which point I began to wonder if this was actually a LARP called Muttonchops: the Sexifying…

TUO and R:tAG were there, he in his steampunk tophat and home-made waistcoat and breeches, She in the burgundy …I think it was also a polonaise she’s made, but I don’t remember. Lovely, at any rate. TUO also had The Mechanical Hand and the Ostrich. MrGod2U had a starring role as the town’s mayor, and he was gathering people up in the tavern to hand out their character sheets and to briefly go over some of the background of the game in-character. Wade’s character owned the Inn, and he’d taken up the best table in the Tavern, with Vi on his knee (insert comment here about Wade’s amazing mutton-chops and Vi’s taffeta with the cinched waist and puff sleeves). Des and Miss Cee owned the general store, Des in a striped shirt with arm garters, and well-fit (although somewhat threadbare) trousers; and Miss Cee in a high-collared cotton shirtwaist patterend with tiny forget-me-nots, the colour of which matched the striping on her seven-panel skirt.

The Rook and G attended. The Rook, playing the Blacksmith (who had, although no one in town knew this but Smarty Pants, MrGod2U, and my own self, Arcane Knowledge) and G was the county judge. Mr. T played the bank manager, The Baron played the local chemist, and Miss Jocie was our teacher, who, bless her soul, also taught Sunday School at the church. Mr. David Gaider ran the local newspaper. My Android was the grain agent. Clark Ferlak was a preacher. Miss Cori was the estranged daughter of a Big City Businessman who’d cut off her allowance. Destitute and stuck in this boomtown, she’d been forced to marry a local rancher, played by Silent Winged Coyote. SWC, in turn, had been kidnapped as a child by the Indians in the area, and when he was returned to his family on the ranch by the dutiful Sheriff (a man who since went missing under mysterious circumstances), had lost the ability to speak.

Jordan and Cindy ran the whorehouse in Wade’s character’s Inn, Emmanuel ran the dry goods store, and Black Pope Marlon IV owned the hardware. Alan was the dentist and my Actor was the doctor.

As people assembled, I began to get more and more nervous. Then Smarty Pants looked at me and said, “You needn’t worry. I hear a duck.”

I said, “What?”

And then woke up. Because I’d set my phone’s alarm ring to “duck”.

Residence

It’s not really communal living, is it? It’s just high-capacity living. I don’t even really know if you can call it “living”. I was 12 when my mother’s friend told me that the best two years of her life were the years she spent living in the dorms at university. I had no reason to doubt her. She lived in a castle.

I asked my aunt if she’d ever been a hippie in the sixties. She said, “I’ve never told anyone this, but in 1968, I found someone’s old basketball jersey in the laundry rooms when I was living in residence. I wore that goddamned thing for two months, and didn’t shave my armpits. That was as close as I ever want to get to being a hippie.”

198o-something, a news story comes out about a midget (or ‘really really short dude’) who was shoved down a rubbish chute in one of the residences. My father said, “Jesus, who would do that?” Turns out it was a bunch of upperclassmen Engineers who thought it would be funny to see if the fellow would fit. All accounts indicated the midget (“really really short dude”) was acquiescent – possibly even encouraging. Of course, now that we have invented terminology and analysis for things like bullying, we understand that there’s a good chance the dude just wanted to have a peer group and was so used to being pushed around because he was different, that he went along with the asinine plan. So, the upperclassmen engineers, who were all soused (from all accounts, everyone in the entire building was three sheets to the wind), stuffed him into the rubbish chute. No one, from all accounts, was sure what the engineers thought would happen when their inebriated patsy dropped several floors and then got wedged inside the chute, but I’m sure none of them assumed it would be a broken neck but not quite instant death. I’m sure none of them assumed he would end up suffocating in the rubbish.

My experiences in residence were certainly not like my mother’s friends. It was most decidedly NOT the best two and a half years of my life. I’m not built to live in that close proximity with so many people. And although it was nice to have food available to me for three squares, I’ve never really been much of a three squares person myself. Plus, the food was, by and large, horrific. I did not find an old basketball jersey in the laundry rooms. I did not live like a bohemian for two months. I never put a midget in the rubbish chute (although I did live in the residence where that happened, for three months).

Imagine my surprise, then, when last night, my co-worker arrived on campus to let me know she was going to use her credit card to pay for my residence fees and my meal plan. We spent some time together getting my photo ID card all done up and finding my horrid little mouse-hole of a room (which, thank God, I didn’t have to share with anyone). Imagine my further surprise when The Actor showed up at the cafeteria.

The Actor and I had a …well, the meal wasn’t lovely, but the company and the conversation was. I mentioned to him that in watching several episodes (two seasons’ worth, in fact) of Quantum Leap with the boys, that I had noted a resemblance between his own self (The Actor’s) and Scott Bakula. It was a resemblance that was most apparent in the episode where Sam Beckett leaped (leapt?) into the body of a private dick, and gambolled around wearing a fedora.

Most of the rest of what happened is lost now, but I’ve been in this residence and cafeteria multiple times in the last few months. The cafeteria isn’t entirely unlike the one at RCMP ‘F’ Division (Depot), and it isn’t entirely unlike Marquis Hall. The rooms aren’t entirely unlike Athabasca Hall, and they’re not entirely unlike Lady Dunn Hall. But they’re still residences. *shudder*

I’m not sure why I keep going back to residence. I should really prefer not to.

Charity

I’m not sure when “charity” became a bad word. “I’m no charity case” is one of those things people say when their pride gets in the way of common sense when you offer to help them in *something* (not just in financial matters). If you help someone when they need help, you are providing them with charity. What’s wrong with that?

See, because Smarty Pants and his clever family were at the house last night. We had dinner and tried to play a bit of Arkham Horror, but we started too late and eyes were glazing over all around the table. So we quit that while we were ahead.

In a bizarre twist of events, Smarty Pants and I ended up staying in a house with a former co-worker of mine. She had two of her children living with her, a five year old boy and a twelve year old girl. The kids were hungry, because their mum hadn’t been able to find work while her kids had no one to care for them during the day, and any job she did find didn’t pay enough for her to hire a sitter. So she was stuck on the dole, trying to make ends meet, and it wasn’t working at all.

Her mother was visiting last night, and my former co-worker was feeling fairly low. It’s never easy to be a single parent, and it’s nearly impossible when you cannot find work that will support your family. So because Smarty Pants and I were staying at their house (I’m not sure why), we offered to take the kids out to the park for the afternoon so that my former co-worker and her mum could have a good visit.

The kids were excited to be out at the park, and they went nuts on the playground equipment. We took a long walk along the riverbank and ate sandwiches we’d made before we left. There was a public pool in the park, and the I took the kids swimming while Smarty Pants read a book on deck. He’s…not much of a swimmer, I guess.

When we took the kids home, my co-worker’s mother had cleaned the house, top to bottom, and was after getting the kids into ‘ready-for-bed’ mode. Not wanting to be in the way, Smarty Pants and I went next door where the neighbour had a push-mower. Smarty Pants was a little confused as to why only parts of the lawn were cut, so he started farting around with the mower. But then the woman in the house hollered out to leave the silver blades and the matted grass because her husband liked how it looked like snow and that it made him think of Christmas.

We stepped back, and sure enough, in the waning light of the hot summer afternoon, we could see that the lawn *did* look a bit like snow, what with blades made of silver and some mossy-looking white clumps of…some weird kind of grass…But ultimately, this wasn’t what really gave me pause.

What gave me pause was that the house the older couple lived in was the house I grew up in, and that the older couple were Smarty Pant’s parents. His father was watching from the picture window, standing there watching what we were doing. And his mother had pushed open the bangy screen door and was leaning out onto the step.

Smarty Pants nodded his assent and only pushed the mower over the parts of the lawn that had clearly been *intended* to be cut, but which had somehow got missed. His mother hollered ‘thank you’ from the doorway and his father nodded inside the house.

Back at the place we were staying, with my former co-worker, she was getting ready to go out with her own mother, who was offering to buy supper for the family, since they had no food in the house. Smarty Pants and I shared a quick glance and we both knew that we’d be spending the evening at the grocery store, buying brown rice and cases of tinned fruit and vegetables and fresh fruit and vegetables and frozen meat for their family.

In fact, I don’t know what this dream is saying at all, except that I woke with the feeling that Smarty Pants’ parents still do check in on him from time to time.

Apple Blossoms, Ornamental

In the yellow golden light of morning, The Nipper and I walked, sometimes hand-in-hand, sometimes side by each, through the well-limbed vaulted cathedral that was my neighbourhood when I was a child. The streets were empty and the windows of the stately old homes stared unblinking as we crossed before them. One side street – little more than an alley – was full of apple blossoms. Bushy pink blooms had fallen from overhanging lazy branches.

We walked gently through the pink sea, and I smiled at the delicate aroma our steps had freed. I asked The Nipper to stop so I could photograph him in the magic morning, but discovered I could not find my camera. Once more around the block and the camera was there but the street had gone.

There were other side streets, many of which were tumbled and touched by the soft pink flowers, but none was magic and none was the street we had found together by wandering. The Nipper was getting peevish, and I took a picture of him and then one of the two of us, and he was smiling not at all. We walked to a hulking brick building at the end of a petal-lined street and a woman I know came out of that place and told me it was a federal building.

So The Nipper and I walked along the harbour where lumber men rode timber logs down the river, and where the smell of freshwater fish never quite dissipated, even in winter. Of course this was the harbour that is not – my tiny landlocked home city hasn’t had ‘harbour’ trade for a century.

Somehow, The Nipper and I were separated in the locker room of the local military base, and although I was not at all uncomfortable to be walking nude through the men’s locker room, I was, perhaps, the only one so comfortable. I did not find The Nipper, but wasn’t concerned, as he had been to this place many times and could find his way home easily. It was more concerning that I could not find a towel.

By the sea

I woke this morning keenly aware of the distance between us and sad because of my loneliness for you. I asked myself, was it so very bad? And the answer of course was no. But, as the dude says something about star-crossed lovers, the tower had to fall.

Still, thank you. And I miss you. I know you are well, and happy. In that other universe where things turned out differently, I should very much like to trade places for a single day with my mirror self.

Family Ties

20120429-131258.jpgYou and I were on a video conference when, of a sudden, you stopped talking to me. Your face peered out from my computer screen, but you said nothing. I tried to draw you into conversation but there was nothing you were willing to say. You ended our chat without saying goodbye. Probably for the best, because I am not good at goodbyes.

But I decided to go to your flat, which had been renovated fairly recently. I showed up at your door dripping from walking through rain or snow. Or perhaps I was covered in blood. You stared at me, shocked that I’d come all that way just to see you.

“I love you,” I’d said. “I’m worried about you. You won’t talk to me.”

You shook your head, a very slight trace of a smile on your mouth. I left my clothes outside the lavatory door while I let hot water wash down over me in the shower. When I was done, you had left a thick bathrobe that smelled like you, hanging on the back of the door.

In the front room, you were watching Sherlock, and I sat on the wide chesterfield beside you. You took my hand in yours and asked me quietly how I was doing.

“Like I said,” I told you, “I’m worried about you.”

You smiled then, but your eyes were sad. You told me you hadn’t much to say anymore, and that made me sad. I felt my heart in my throat. The door opened and your brother jogged up the stairs. The brother you don’t have. His hair was red, and he was lean and very young. You introduced him as John, and he glared at me on his way into the dining room with a bowl and a box of cereal an a carton of milk.

“It’s all right,” I told him. “I’m wearing his robe because my clothes were …unwearable, and not because I’ve been with him in the bedroom up the hall.”

John smiled, and started in on his cereal. I began talking about the car accident, and you put your arm around my shoulders and drew me close to you. I could smell your aftershave – a spicy, soapy smell, on your collar.
The door banged open again, and when the well-muscled, slightly younger version of you popped his head into the front room, you introduced your brother Peter. You said he was the best-looking of your brothers, but I thought his eyes, when compared with yours, looked cruel. Hard. Unforgiving.

Peter didn’t say much to me either. From the dining room, John announced that you and I hadn’t been shagging, but that I had needed a shower and yours was the only one available to me. Peter didn’t say anything to me, but he looked you in the eye and said, “I thought you’d learned your lesson”.

His words cut you; I could tell. I bristled and was about to speak when you put your hand on my forearm and whispered “it’s just what he’s like. Forgive him.”

“It’s not me he’s wronged,” I said. “or should that be ‘it isn’t I he has wronged’? …I am not inconvenienced by his words.”

That was when you laughed. You kissed my forehead, and I thought everything would be all right. Even when the neighbour girl knocked on the door to ask for milk and we realised she was locked in the flat most days, your eyes had brightened and there was renewed energy in your step. But you were still strangely quiet.

I wondered if you wanted me to try at all.

Feral

I hadn’t expected to get into a fight with Silent Winged Coyote. It just kind of happened that way. He was upset with me, though, because I kept beating him on all the games of chance. It was uncanny, really. Statistically, he ought to have won the challenge, but I rolled a six, and he couldn’t manage to make anything happen on his rerolls. Then he got Very Upset with me when he learned that the weapon I was using (a Very Special Knife) did more damage than he assumed it would. Kind of “I’ve just killed you with one hit” sort of thing. So I healed him enough that he wouldn’t bleed out, and I left the room.

I went to find my family. I told them what had happened. I don’t remember now what had prompted the fracas. I think it had something to do with him threatening me, and me deciding to stand up for myself. I was playing a character that was a sort of mix of one of my favourite characters and one I haven’t played yet but about whom I’ve thought about quite a lot.

Then came the part where SWC’s King announced that the Codex had been breached. That I needed to be punished because I had broken the rules. The King (played by Shoulder Boy) was vehement about this violation. The White King (played by someone I haven’t met, a lovely young woman with white-blond hair) was curiously silent about the issue. I stood and defended my actions.

“I did not break the Codex,” I said, and my voice rang out through the room (which was a kind of theatre in the round, with high-rising platforms circling it on three sides). Everyone stopped and turned their faces in my direction. I hadn’t spoken to anyone but my family before this.

“You attacked this man outside of honourable combat,” the Black King challenged.

“Yes, I did,” I said. “Has the Black King forgotten that the Commandment states that we shall not *kill* one another outside of honourable combat?” The room was silent. “Have all of us forgotten that Commandment? I did not kill that man. In fact, I *healed* him. *He* threatened *me*. Would you rather I allow myself to be berated, threatened, and browbeaten? Would you rather I allow this man to weaken my resolve? I abhor violence, but recognise it is the only language some of us understand.”

“For someone who abhors violence, you seem to know how to use it quite well. Unprovoked, it would seem. Witnesses say you struck first.”

“This is both correct and incorrect. I struck the only physical blow. And I prevented him from dying. I did not wish to kill this man. And I understand that my actions will lead only to his drawing out this conflagration into a true vendetta. I will have to live the rest of my life knowing that that man,” I pointed at SWC’s pale and motionless body lying limp on the floor at the Black King’s feet. I had healed his most grievous, life-threatening wound, but had left the rest of them to knit on their own. “Will now go out of his way to cause harm and dissonance to me and to those close to me. This is my punishment. This, and the knowledge I carry of what I have done.”

“I think I get to dole out the punishments around here, sweetheart,” the Black King said.

The White King stood forward. Her voice was high, pure, and musical. “That language is not appropriate. You do *not* get to dole out the punishments around here.”

The Black King flushed. “Quite right. WE get to dole out the punishments around here, and it’s my position that your pet there needs a leash and ought to be swatted with a rolled up newspaper.”

“That is quite enough,” the White King stated with finality. “The Codex has not been broken. There will be no further discussion of punishment for this one,” she said, gesturing toward me.

The venue then moved to a version of the Royal Alberta Museum which has never existed. But I wish it did. Like a blend between the Parliament buildings and the British Museum, it had grand marble staircases and velvet curtains cordoning off enormous rooms full of tapestries and artworks. It was closed for the evening, and Rico Suave was the head of after-hours security, so he’d got us all clearance to be there.

I spent the rest of the evening mostly in an alternate incarnation, listening, padding through the halls, and slipping into the spaces between places. I was to find out everything I could about what dangers we would be facing, and report those back to my siblings, one of whom was the Bishop.

I woke longing for that game, for that venue, and for that character.

Contrition

I dreamed of you last night. In the first place, we were at my home in my northern town, in the back yard. I was barefoot, and the grass was itchy and warm beneath my soles. I took you across the yard to the sandbox, and told you about the night my father built it. After I’d gone to bed, he dug out the sandbox, built the frame with four little seats, and filled it with cool sand. I told you about how he’d sneaked into my room and lifted me from my bed. He carried me, still half asleep, out to the yard and he’d set me in the sand. “Happy Birthday,” he had said, and I’d yawned and stretched my toes into the sand. My mind was still half in a dream, but I realised eventually where I was. It wasn’t so amazing to me that Da built me a sandbox, because my father could do anything. He could build anything. He knew everything. But it was then, and to date still is, the best birthday gift ever.

You asked me how deep the sand went, and I told you the pit Da had dug was twelve feet deep. That’s certainly how it seemed when I was wee. My house in the northern town last night was cloaked in shadows, unless I wanted it to be sunny. Which I did sometimes. When I was showing you the raspberry bushes and the tree I used to climb to read books in.

We got in the car afterward, and headed to the lake. I showed you my friends’ cabin, where I had spent many spring and summer weekends. On the way back to the city, the highway became a video game. I was driving in Tron. You were there in the passenger seat, teasing me. I ran my fingers through your hair and told you again how much I love your voice. You closed your eyes and laughed, low in your throat.

You drove for a little while, after I avoided (narrowly) a collision with a bladed weapon made of light. Your driving was solid, but uninspired.

You weren’t interested in opening the throttle, and you weren’t interested in passing on the inside. But I was tired. I’d been driving for so long. We knew we’d be a long time on the road, even though the drive to the lake had taken no time at all. We’d been driving my old green station wagon on the way to the lake. On the way back, we had a light vehicle. It went fast, but the radio reception was crap.

While I sat in the seat beside you, I learned that one of my dreads was coming out. You hadn’t brought a comb with you, so I couldn’t take it out and start over with it. I felt like a failure. You didn’t understand my distress. You didn’t understand my sadness. You said “you see; I was right about your dreads after all.”

I told you to stop the car, to pull over because your driving wouldn’t get us anywhere. You were confused; we had been getting on so well.

I was angry. This probably accounted for my insistence on pushing the vehicle as hard as I could. You were nervous. I sat in the driver’s seat and listened to you ask me over and over what was wrong. Finally, you threw your hands in the air, and they dropped heavily to your knees. “Fine.” You said. “You’re angry. I get that. I don’t know why you’re angry, exactly, but I’m sorry for whatever it was that I did that upset you. Okay?”

But it wasn’t okay. Because making contrition for something you cannot name is not proper contrition. If you do not know what the wrong was that you committed, how can it possibly cause you to feel soul-crushed? Had you said “I’m sorry you are upset”, it might have gone better for you. But you didn’t, and I tore apart your act of contrition. Predictably, this made you angry.

You sat beside me, your arms crossed over your chest. “Fine,” you said. “There’s nothing I can say here that’s going to make this better, is there?” You asked. Your eyes were fixed on the track ahead of us.

“Of course there is. But you won’t say it because you don’t know why what you’ve said is hurtful. That’s the greater problem. You think you know me, but you don’t. You put me in this image of who you think I am…of who you want me to be. But I am not that person.”

“Then tell me what it is that I said that was hurtful, and I will apologise for it,” you said. You were frustrated.

“You said perhaps it was a good sign that you were right about my hair, that one of my dreads coming out just meant that you were right.”

“I was just trying to be funny.”

“You don’t remember what you said when I first put my dreads in, do you? What you would then be ‘right about’ now?” I asked.

“No, I admit, I don’t remember exactly what I said,” you said.

“You told me that you didn’t like dreadlocks on anyone, and that I would be less attractive, but that you would love me anyway.”

“I was only telling you the truth,” you said.

“Well, your honesty is what’s hurtful. Knowing you don’t find me attractive makes me wonder why you’re here at all.”

You sighed heavily and closed your eyes. “I do find you attractive. I think you’re fucking beautiful.”

“I’m saying that your telling me you find me less attractive hurts my feelings.”

“I was actually referring to when I said that your hair probably just does what it wants to do anyway.”

I thought about that for a while. “This is a proper apology,” I told you then. “In the actual definition of what an ‘apology’ is, that being a defense of a statement. In this case, I accept your apology, and contrition is not required. I am, however, still distressed that one of my dreads has come out.”

You said nothing for the duration of our drive, but I did win the race, as our vehicle was not only first across the finishing line, but was also the only one that survived.