It’s raining and I was running up the streets in northwest Toronto this morning. In every other tree there was an orchestra of birds while the geese heralded their arrival overhead. I caught this beyond my headphones and above the periphery of my running cap because I was aiming for distraction.
Still getting used to the fat squirrels who’ve probably been so confused by the change of climate. We welcome spring so fast here now, we forget that it hasn’t always been this way. Three blankets of snow in the season does not a winter make. This is just our new reality, so I shrug and welcome it anyway because I need warmth, only it’s raining today.
When we first moved up here, it wasn’t lost on me that you moved me back to a place where my recurring dreams end up. It’s not always a scary ending, in fact, just north from our house are the buildings I gather my family up in dreams to keep them safe. I had my first driving lesson on our street. I made the school I used to be heavily bullied at part of my route, not to relive anything, but to remind myself how things change, perspectives change over time. When you pick up the kids for your visits now, I go for a run at night through my old neighbourhood, now the one I’m settled in once again, and think of nothing. I distract myself with the sights of people going to work, coming home from work, grocery shopping, and traffic. I live on the cross sections of major concrete rivers in our city. The actual rivers just around them.
A squirrel gathers nuts to fatten itself before winter. It all goes to their cheeks, legs, thighs, and little paws. As soon as you told me you were leaving, (right after I asked if we could work this out. You said no because you had been thinking of it for three years. A secret hard for you keep.), I went into survival mode. I gathered up whatever internal resources I had in me and we went through the list of things we had to do.
How could I ever think you betrayed me, you didn’t, because you know, I am no saint. I know how this goes. I see opportunity and I take it. I used to think it was living free. Seize the day, you used to say to me. Then you did it too. I see how karma works. Heaven knows you taught me more about spirituality than school ever did.
I gathered it all up and you gathered yourself up. I opened up the boxes I had my stuff in and threw out all the garbage. I organized my room and our children’s rooms. Took down the engagement photo and put up twin photos of you holding our son and I holding up our daughter. Both of them age one, but a year apart.
Today I ran up the hills of northwest Toronto trying to forget the importance of today in my too long memory. This has taught me commemorations mean nothing when you can rewrite the day anew for a different version of you. The honk of a horn and a cat call on my run more keenly noticed now because of who I am now or what this transition has helped opened my eyes to. Too many things to mention.
It’s been eighteen years since we started things at Jane Station. It’s been four months after we finished. This will be the last time I mark today as what it was. I bought breakfast for the kids and they are happy. We’ve done that. That is one vow we keep on: to help our kids be happy. The best constraint.
I am glad we had what we did. I am hopeful in the steps you’ve made for your own happiness. Of course, I get angry and I cry, but what anger does is set back. I could be lying all day in bed crying to Radiohead. But why would I today when the first thing a squirrel does before winter is gather nuts? Besides, I did all my crying yesterday. Salty rivers for months have dried up my face. It’ll take a bit. Believe me, I see what you mean about freedom and independence. There is a lot of hope inside me too. I’m working hard so I don’t need you or anyone again.
I write this because you’ll never read it. All those times I read you my poems and you pretended to listen. Then you’d say that I was getting better. Yet you’re the only one I believed.
You don’t need to care about what I do now. I know you care. You say so with every good bye hug and the look you give me when you’re trying to read my thoughts. I try not to care if you do. You’ve moved on and the climate changed so fast. I am adjusting. I am gathering.
I need the warmth in my head and my heart. I will find it.
This isn’t winter coming. It’s an enduring summer.