Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's all relative

So, I have this memory.

It was a Friday night. At the bar.

Completely unexpected.

She sauntered in...with a boy at her side. And I immediately dismissed her.

And she was hot. Boot cut jeans, over boots, button down shirt, dark brown wavy hair past her shoulders...

The boy at her side made it easy to dismiss her. He clung to her like a limpet, as cool as he tried to be. I'm not stupid.

Hours later, playing pool, we were paired. And the first thing I thought where she was concerned was: Shit.

Hey, she said. You're Rebecca. (My name had come up on the chalk board.)

I nodded. I couldn't fix this if I tried. My friends had commented on how I'd not paid attention to her. Now I had no choice but to do so.

"Kathleen," she said. Offering her hand.

When she kissed me the first time, I continued on with the game, but leaned back carefully. When she kissed me the second time, and then disappeared off to the bathrooms, I frowned. And then here came her "boyfriend".

"Hey," he said, sidling up to me, "how's it going?"

"Fine. What's your point?" I asked shortly, chalking my cue.

"Well, I saw you kissed her," he stated.

I think that was the closest I've ever come to smashing someone's nose into their brain.

"Actually, she kissed me," I told him. I then leaned back and said, "You should know the difference."

He laughed, and said, "I think she likes you."

And I said, "Really? YOU think she likes me?"

He said yes.

I told him to fuck off.

And when she came back, I told her what he had said, and she said she was sorry. And I told her I would not have anything to do with her if there was a boy involved. And this is what she did: She kissed me again, and fished in her wallet, and gave me her business card...and said Please, call me.

I didn't keep it. I tore it into tiny pieces within a week, never called her...but have always wondered...What if...?

Friday, December 24, 2010

If memory serves...

I think I've always been more fond of Christmas eve than I have of the day itself.

I recall one Christmas eve in particular. It was 1988. And I was alone. I was more alone that year than I'd ever been my whole life. I was 25. In later years I would come to use that time as a measuring stick, to compare my state of "being alone". But that year I was very alone.

I lived out of town. In a town. In a house on an acreage with a roommate, who had his own life, and whom I knew nothing about...and I'd only moved there to be out of town. It became one of those moves that never made sense, never would, and because of that, made more sense than anything else possibly could.

I was this close to disowning the woman who'd adopted me. We were at extreme odds. I was at odds with the rest of the family because of this. I spoke to none of them, really, because I didn't know how to. This would prove to be the pattern I would follow, and have followed, for years. Later, once I grasped how relationships worked, I understood that I had nothing in common with these people, and therefore nothing to say, or share. That realization actually hurt. Until it didn't.

Of course I wasn't completely alone. I've spoken of Cutter before. My first Akita. Most people will never understand the constancy of Cutter. How he held me to this world, when I believe I would have gladly left it. He was the one conscious choice I made that surely affected my life more than any other I have ever made.

But that Christmas eve, 1988, he had just turned 2 years old. He was just coming into his frame. He was oversized for the breed, massive in bone, standing at 30 inches at the shoulder, and not yet his eventual realized weight of 140 lbs. I think he was maybe 100 lbs then. He was so young, and so gawky, and so full of potential. And he was my constancy.

That Christmas eve I was alone except for him. He was full of energy, and we'd often go for long walks in the countryside. That night, at around 10 pm, we went for another walk. I had a huge ache inside me, that I didn't know how to ease...and so I grabbed his leash and asked if he'd like to go for a walk. Of course he said yes, and so off we went. I remember that night because there was a full moon. It was so bright. Startlingly bright. And we walked. And walked. And walked.

Now keep in mind this is out in the countryside. With mile roads. And houses on acreages. Granted we were on the outskirts of a major city, and technically within a township, but still, there was space between. Tons of space between. Yet we walked. And enjoyed the night. And the moonlight. And the Christmas lights and trees. And the views of people, and families, and friends, enjoying get togethers, and drinks, and good times...I saw these things and enjoyed seeing them; there really is something special to being an outsider looking in, without any kind of taint.

To Cutter, it's likely that night meant nothing more than another nightly walk (we took so very many). To me, I remember that night because it was Christmas eve. And because I was alone and hurting. And because there was a full moon. Yet what I remember most is that as much as I was alone...I wasn't. That night has been used as a yardstick for a reason, against all the hopeless and alone nights I have spent. I spent that time with a dog I'd raised from a wee puppy, and who was with me for so many Christmases following. I remember that night, because of the full moon. And I remember that night because of my dog. Because when no one else was with me, he was. Because he never would have left me. And only did because I insisted he must.

I think I miss him the most at Christmas...and every Christmas, because he was there for so many.

Monday, December 20, 2010

You don't need the sun in order to see

I think I've spent most of my life wondering why I do the things that I do. Why I don't do what so many others do. Why the status quo has always seemed like a cult to me, that I never wanted to join, that I shouldn't join, because it would be the death of me if I did.

I hurt quite frequently. I am also, by turns, so euphoric it would not surprise me to discover I can, in fact, fly. When I say I hurt, I don't mean that I am in actual physical pain. I don't always hurt for myself. More often I hurt for others. As I am also ecstatic for others. I have such intense feelings raging through me, emotional forest fires, which never die out completely. The hot spots that the firefighters so diligently search for, because if you don't put them out, another fire will erupt eventually; I've never found a way to put out my hot spots.

I have no wealth, likely never will, and I'm fine with that. I have very few possessions, though that hasn't always been the case; I've moved around so often, not just in this city, but in this country, that I am the consummate pro at packing.

I am often unemployed, not because I lack skills, or ambition, or vision, but because none of those things mesh with what those who would employ me would have me do.

I've been alone far more often than I've ever been in a relationship, and have jeopardized every relationship I've ever been in. There's a reason for that; I'm just not sure what it is. It's a cliche, one I've only just come to realize: it's likely I've been lonely my entire life. And I'm okay with that, too. Not because it's preferable, but because that's what I know.

But I am not unhappy. Never make the mistake of thinking that I am unhappy. I am not in a rut. I have grown, and changed, and grown and changed some more. My life is not stagnant, and I am neither staid, nor static. I have done things differently because I am different. And the vastness that is within me may, eventually, be filled. But I hope not. As much as it frightens me, it also sustains me.

I am my own reason for being.

Friday, December 17, 2010

There is nothing better than fine.

I've been six days without my computer. It suddenly ceased working last Saturday (accompanied by unsettling and less than helpful messages), and I spent a good couple of hours trying to figure out what had happened before I finally decided I couldn't possibly fix it, and I'd have to take it in. I was confident that whatever had happened, it wasn't irreparable, and I knew exactly where I would take it for those repairs.

Six days and slightly over $200 later, I have my computer back. I have a new operating system, a new hard drive, and 2GB of memory. Technically, my system has been wiped clean, yet, as a courtesy (my ex always said I got what I wanted because I'm cute and small; I beg to differ, I can be a hardass when I need to), my documents were retained in a separate, accessible file. I didn't ask for this. I had asked for access to a 5 page document I hadn't had time (or the wherewithal) to save. The tech guy said, since he saw it was important to me, he would ensure it was saved. I thanked him.

That document, all six pages of it, was Chapter 8 of my current novel. Chapter 8, which had flowed out of me, like blood out of a wound, over the course of one day, which is not the norm. Chapter 8, which, once I had it down, I stumbled away from, feeling confused, elated, drained. I moved on to Chapter 9, and all it's difficulties, without even thinking of saving what I'd just brought into the world. And once my computer seized, I realized how stupid I'd been, and all I wanted was to recover what I hadn't saved...and was promised I wouldn't have to worry, it would be saved for me.

In the six days I have been without my computer, I have continued with my writing, longhand, which has always been my wont, and which has never failed me. Chapter 9 is proving as elusive as ever, but it's coming together. Chapter 8, as it was written, I would have had to consign to the ether, since I hadn't a single note on it, about it, and I'd have to rewrite it, hoping to reconstruct it, as best I could from memory. I laid awake at night, or lost myself in thought during the day, trying to put that chapter together from memory. I'm grateful I don't have to, because I knew, even as I was writing it, that it is...fine. I write from a very emotional place. I don't like to visit that place any more frequently than I have to. But when I know I have the emotional resonance down, I don't like to change it, and won't.

What interests me the most of what happened here, is that all I was concerned about was six pages of one document. Out of an entire computer. I could do without everything else. But those six pages? They mattered. I could have lost everything else...and figured I had. But out of all the flotsam and jetsam of our everyday lives, that all I really cared about was something so finely expressed as what I knew was contained in those six pages...that was money well spent.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Oh, to be a parent

When I was 18, I went to my (then) general physician with a specific request: I'd like to have a hysterectomy so that I will not have children.

Now please note, I was 18, I was not sexually active, and I was not worldly in the least. Also, please note, I did not say I didn't want to get pregnant. I was very specific: I did not want to have children. There's a difference. I may not have been worldly, but I knew what I meant.

The doctor looked at me, with very keen interest, for several moments, and then said, "Well, you're too young to make that decision. I think you should wait until you're older." To which I replied, "Being older won't make any difference. I don't want to have children." He was adamant, however, and refused to indulge me. I left his office feeling very frustrated.

Parenthood was never something I ever saw in my future. It was never a concept I ever entertained. I never saw myself as a parent, nor saw myself bearing children (actually, that thought terrified me, quite frankly). I never got any kind of warm, fuzzy feelings over the thought of being pregnant and having a living being growing inside me. I couldn't even get my brain to reach that point. Nope. No kids. Ever.

To be honest, I had huge fears where raising children was concerned. To be 18, that young, and to think far enough ahead that I believed, understood, that having children was not something I should do, well, looking back on it, that doesn't surprise me. I've always been very forward-looking. Yet there's a part of me that is astonished that, at that age, I was able to surmise that, quite possibly, I should not be a parent.

There were two reasons, that I can recall, that led me to that decision, and I don't accurately remember which was the more telling: 1. I'd been abused, and 2. There were already enough children in the world, and not enough homes for all of them. At the age of 18, I was just starting to come to grips with my own childhood (and that would play out for years to come), so my understanding of the cycle of abuse was not yet fully formed. It was only later in life that I came to understand what that meant. But I knew, innately, that I must not bear children, or, to be more concise, I must not raise them.

Now, if I'm being honest, I can see how flawed my reasoning has been, to an extent. In hindsight, certainly. But who I was then, and up until I was, what, 35? I doubt I would have been the parent I possibly could be now. To be frank, I am in awe of those people who are good parents. Parenthood humbles me. It is something I have never experienced, and when I see it executed well, I am literally in awe. To raise a child, to take responsibility for a human life, and raise that little person to be (hopefully) the best they can be, is something I cannot conceive of. My (later realized) fear of perpetuating a cycle of violence was not without merit, but I see now how I could possibly have been a fine parent. Indeed, some people who know me well have said they thought I would be an excellent parent. At times, I've believed that. I respect children, and I do enjoy most of them, and I get along well with most. I am not overly indulgent with children, I expect good behaviour, and have no tolerance for bad behaviour. And hey, if you're thinking now I have nothing to back that up with, I have nieces and nephews and various kids I've babysat who can vouch for me.

What I'm getting at here is that I made a choice at a very young age, and while it was rather vague then, it came to be much less so as I got older, and my perception never changed. I still stand by that decision. Parenthood confounds me, as much as it astonishes me. I am perpetually in awe of those who choose (rightly or wrongly) to have children, and more so of those who parent well. But I will never experience that. And while there is a part of me, deep down, that truly aches, when I think of being a parent, of having a child of my own, to love, and to be loved by, I know what I've denied myself. And while I may (though not likely) regret that, I will always know that I made a choice.

And for that, at least, I am grateful.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's in a name

It's funny how the brain works.

I was walking home the other day from work (this is about a 45 minute walk. Yes, it's winter, and yes, it's cold, but I walk pretty much every day, and I look really cute in my snow pants.) I had turned off my mp3 player, because after over half an hour of listening to jaunty pop tunes, energetic celtic reels, and driving rock songs, a girl could use some relative silence. And just so you know, I'm one of those crazy people who actually will sing out loud, if I'm particularly caught up in the moment. I don't dance, though. I don't wish to scare people that badly.

My mind, as per usual, was all over the place. It was a beautiful evening, and I was admiring the Christmas lights on the balconies of the apartments in the neighbourhood, when out of nowhere, I thought of my once-best-friend from my school years. We'd remained friends (though we'd drifted apart, as people do) until my mid 20's. When I came out, at the age of 25, I thought I should call her and let her know this about me. And when I did, she sounded politely interested...and then I never heard from her again. Ever.

She was really the only person who ever rejected me. And I remember being hurt, and confused, at the time...but I got over it.

So the other day, I'm walking home, and that whole thing crosses my mind, and I suddenly remembered that her middle name had been Gay (I kid you not). She HATED that name. I remember this distinctly, that she would rail against having such a detestable middle name, and the first chance that she got, when she was an adult and on her own, she was going to change it. Obviously, there is no irony here whatsoever. Why I had not thought of this earlier, I have no idea. I puzzled over that for a moment, and then had to laugh and shake my head, because some things are so glaringly obvious, that to even bother thinking of them is a complete and utter waste of time. Which is probably why I didn't.

I wonder if she ever did change her middle name, though.