Here it goes.
Twenty-six started slow. At the Keg. But not Leslie. The Mansion Keg. Where I was. Filling a shift. After midnight sitting. The bar alone. But for Nikki. I’m twenty-six. Disbelief set in. Drink in hand. Far from home. Far from sanity. Years from sanity. But hopeful nonetheless. Twenty-something-hopeful. Hope springs eternal. In your twenties. That is, only.
Back from Keg. In basement apartment. Lived below family. A loud family. With two children. With weight issues. And stomping issues. They rose early. Earlier than me. I sat outside. To avoid noise. With New Yorker. My tanning lotion. My current book. Sunglasses and water. Alone, reading, thinking. The whole summer. Two jobs going. One at night. One all day. Every day, endless. But I persevered. The backyard, grass. My tan, golden. Talking on phone. Standing in shower. Watching the rain. Learning, eating, alone. In bed, alone. Watching TV, alone. Underground, with wallpaper. Open-concept kitchen. Air-conditioning, cold. Watching the crows. Conversations with God. Sitting on steps. Watching cars drive. Listening, my head. My head, spinning. Short-story reading. Answering the phone. Ordering Chinese food. Rolling the carpet. After the flood. Lots of rain. Loved the crows. Followed the crows. Through the park. On running shoes. On roller-blades. Falling, tripping, embarrassed. Got over it.
Back to backyard. Then the snow. White, falling, quiet. No loud noise. Discovering new shows. Another twenty-birthday. Thai food, Rosedale. Ernest Hemingway book. Chili in food. Friends at table. Birthday candle-blowing. New Yorker renewing. Toronto Life arriving. Getting thrown out. Or, evicted out.
New apartment hunt. Late October, fall. Move-in date. Hallow’s Eve Night. Black and orange. My new windows. The church outside. The loud street. A Toronto street. My new couch. My old bed. My endless loneliness. My constant books. Summer next year. Hottest in years. New century, hot. Hot summer weather. Hot brick building. No air-conditioning. No mercy, ever. The fourth storey. Facing the east. The morning sun. Beaming in, always. The a/c unit. My parents bought. My friend installed. I read a lot. The Fountainhead summer. Sitting at window. In a chair. Getting into Rand. Getting into myself. Turned twenty-eight. End of summer. Pre-September eleventh. Pre the collapse. Falling in love. Another October month. My sister’s engagement. Her wedding plans. My laryngitis, voice. Nothing to say. The time marching. My love affair. My subsequent heartbreak. Recorded in walls. Etched on heart. My heart died. It awakened later. But never fully.
The next season. Wore in, out. No date to. Take to my. My sister’s wedding. Bright blue day. Lots of people. Sister in white. Smiles, hugs, toasts. I’m twenty-nine. In the photos. Bright blue dress. Birks’ box-blue. Had to cut. Myself out of. The blue dress. A few months. And, suddenly, thirty! A new decade. A new heart. A new spirit. Where is that. Twenty-something girl? I think, mirror. Where do I. Go to now? Who do I. Go to now?
Life on Bathurst. Continued unabated, slow. The walls unpainted. My unwillingness to. Settle into home. To accept it. To accept myself. It-what was. Not-what if. My hair, short. My hair, long. My skin, pale. My skin, tan. Is that it? Just each season? Not each day. Can’t remember “each”. Just the “every”. Everytime I cried. Everytime I failed. Everytime I folded. Up into myself. A small chair. By the window. Looking out, dreaming. I still dreamed. On the fridge. Poems I loved. The Table poem. The Mutilated World. Poems from Globe. The paper drew. Me back into. My own world. Then one day.
I went out. Back out in. To the world. The one out. There, the window. The door open.
My heart open. Not fully there. But open nonetheless.
August, thirty-one. Another hot summer. Not much changed. Same Bathurst apartment. Same two jobs. Same little car. Same little life. But I adjusted. My outlook on. The future, somewhat. Less fear now. More hope now. What changed, when? Can’t really tell. Just..hope and. More hope and. Some more money. Did that help? Maybe it did.
I can’t recall. Just knowing that. I could keep. It up alone. Helped, maybe, maybe.
What was read? That random summer? Maybe 1984 again. Maybe some Hemingway. Maybe Chick-lit only. Dulling my senses. Not my memory. That remained intact. I could remember. The past clearly. The white walls. The tangled sheets. Who was there. Who I was. With that person. Then you move. Onto someone else. You both do. You have to.
Thirty-two came. And gave back. The first age. In a dog’s. Age to give. Something back to. Me, myself, I. Renewal, new person. Something special, real. Safe, comfortable, chess. Games, not really. Love, yes, maybe. The golden compass. Another warm October. Along Lake Ontario. Turning to winter. But this time. With a friend.
Trips, births, deaths. I’m thirty-three. I’ve dreaded it. For many years. Is it cursed? Seemed to be. My mom’s illness. My nephew’s illness. My own anxiety. A new home. But I can’t. Enjoy it yet. Not while everything. Is upside down. In my life. In their lives. In all our. Collectively screwed lives. I lose weight. Alot, without thinking. I go away. On a trip. With an acquaintance. And her viewpoint. Opens my eyes. Just like that. Life’s beauty and. Endless power to. Surprise, comes back. Open my eyes. And look at. My life, earth. It’s sliding by. The ocean surf. The jet-ski rides. The little houses. The ragged streets. I come home. Changed forever, in. A good way. Tanned, happy, calm. I feel peace. Never feel that! Thirty-four arrives. Just in time. I’m still calm. Nothing seems to. Rattle my cage. Like it used. To do, always. I don’t react. I just live. I can’t control. What will happen. What won’t happen. Life will happen. I want to. Make it happen. But I don’t. Obsess over it. Anymore, at all. Heartbreak can arrive. At any time. It can also. Leave whenever you. Can let it. I go away. Again, and again. It changes me. Back to my. Old young self. Carefree, unfettered, unwilling. To give up. This late date.
Those three words. Look at what. They have done. And then undone. And done again.
Eight quick years. Running across pages. Only two more. To finish writing. This little post.
Thirty five, August. A nice party. With good girlfriends. The year flies. More than ever. I visit Europe. For the first. And last time? I prefer heat. And beach and. Not a city.
Another long winter. But I persevere. I reunite with. Him, the him. Of three times. Third time’s a. Charm, they say. Are they right? I hope so. We witness love. A lot of it. It’s all around. Us, and me. It changes him. Too, I hope. We move in. Not a big. Deal or fanfare. Just us, together. No illusions and. No real surprises. We’re two confirmed. Singles who just. Happened to find. Single each other.
Thirty-six just. Under two months. Ago, really, without. A big realization. I’m just at. That stage of. New mid-life. Where you can. If you try. Hard, still look. Pretty good, and. You can, if. You really want. To, lie shamelessly. About your age. Which I don’t. Re-connecting with. An old friend. One who has. Known me for. More than years. More than these. Ten little years. And has been. Away from my. Life for almost. That amount of. Took an opportunity. For some introspection.
An opportunity to. Evaluate when, exactly. My dream to. Write went away. Or rather, when. I filed that. Dream under “later”. But guess what? Later is now.
Later is ten. Years old today.
Happy birthday later.