Julia asked me how long I’d been spending Christmas at their house. We figured out this was the seventh year, cause I have pictures of Ginger from 2005, before she died. I can’t say I remember each Christmas distinctly, aside from a few extra faces and occasional makeouts that cause some to stand out more than others. It’s strange to think that I’ve known Braiden for more than half his life. I perpetually think of him as being seven.
The kids are getting older, no longer up at 5am and anxiously waiting by the presents until they’re allowed to wake up the parents. The idea of Santa has long been dispelled. Braiden’s given up being a centre for goalie, lost his post-season scruff cut, and at 13 is only an inch shorter than me. Nicole’s done most of her growing and will be legal in four months, but at the age where she’s still someone’s daughter instead of her own woman. Julia’s sporting a new voice and piercing, but has kept all the sass that comes with being the middle child.
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It’s been an aimless winter. Some days full of meaning, others passing without so much as a moment worth remembering. I’ve learned to cherish every storm cause each one could be your last. Who knows when you’ll get to walk on trails cut through tangled branches with the snow as wet and thick and heavy as this again?
The holidays snuck up on me. I’ve been trying to figure out where all the time has gone and how best to use what’s left. The only decorating I’ve done for the season is a real pine wreath (generously given to me by Steph) hung on the office door. A small act that doesn’t seem like much compared to the glorious ceiling-scraping trees in the houses of my friends and neighbours, but certainly more than I’ve done in the recent years. It’s an easy concession to make against my growing distaste for the commercialized Christmas culture when my room is filled with the scent of sap, scattered pine needles, and other reminders of life.
My existence is defined by what I have left to do, and the list grows ever shorter. I live week-by-week, through cycles of productivity and play, trying to meet each need in turn. It’s always a delicate balance to be managing when so much in life is out of your control.
As for the short term, I’m off to Shirley’s for Christmas and my annual dose of family. It’ll be a complete break from my regular life of single-serving meals and never being around more than one person at a time. I imagine we’ll spend most of the days eating finger foods and watching reality TV among the rambunctious fluster of her kids. I always look forward to seeing how they’re carrying their grown-up voices and how their styles have changed.
This is the time of year I’m most scared of being left without plans, but recently I haven’t had enough time alone. It’s left me feeling numb and tired and that’s exactly what I need right now.
Friends still make the best distractions. It’s easy to hide from anything when you’re sharing a blanket and some early episodes of Trailer Park Boys.
A few weeks ago, an anonymous person very thoughtfully sent me a track called NYC by Brolin. This person must know me quite well, cause the song is to my taste exactly. Not only that, but I’d been meaning to make a short film about my trip to New York (as well as the extended stay due to Hurricane Sandy), and Brolin’s minimalistic sound space and ghostly vocals gave me an atmosphere of warmth and wonder that matched my footage perfectly.
Personally, I don’t think I could ever create anything and name it NYC. It’s a city with too much depth and complexity to try encapsulating in a verse or song or moving image, then tie it up with three simple letters. I can’t wait to go back again some day to capture as much as I can.
I don’t know how to tell my friends about you. What am I supposed to say? That all we shared was some tea and talk and those four hours are reason I still believe in chemistry after all the practical failings of my past relationships? And how do I bring you up, now that it’s been so long I wonder if you even remember me?
Perhaps you wouldn’t be in my mind so often if Green Eyes wasn’t one of my favourite songs. It always takes me back to those days on the mend, when all I had was your brother — singing with a voice like it was soaked in Scotch and left to dry on a line in winter — to give me something new to love. You were the one to give me something to be excited about when it felt like nothing mattered anymore, and just as much became an inextricable part of that time.
That’s why I haven’t forgotten you. That’s why I never will.
I can still see the cavalier way you’d toss your curly hair over your head every now and then, as if you were perpetually deciding how best to wear it. I’ve come to appreciate that kind of casual comeliness, and the fact that you were so unaware of it made it all the more endearing.
We were supposed to start a band of our own. I’d pick up keyboard or cello if you wanted to stick with guitar, we’d do covers of Andrew Vincent, open for house shows, and get signed to Kelp some day. Instead, all I have is a picture of you dancing at the Raw Sugar, and what if forever on my lips.
I may hardly know you, but the truth is I miss you. I still want you in my life. I want to know where you’ve been and who you’ve loved, what you’re dancing to and how else your creativity has taken form. But all I can do is wonder if our paths will ever cross again.
My entries used to be filled with so many details, moments, thoughts, and emotions. I used to believe everything I wrote was important. Not that I was ever a particularly good writer, only a person trying to be honest with himself, and that was the way for me to sort out the things in my head.
Now that need isn’t there anymore. Instead, I write to keep track of where I am, knowing that in time I’ll be wondering how far I’ve gone, and let my pictures fill in the blanks.
On my birthday, Lisa treated me to all-you-can-eat sushi at my favourite restaurant, and cleavage.
The new Leonard Cohen biography is out and Genevieve tells me it’s amazing, or at least a great deal more informative than the course we took last year at Ottawa U about the birth of the romantic troubadour. I used to be completely obsessed with this man, but now I can’t remember the last time I put on one of his albums for a straight listen through. I knew he was coming to Ottawa this Friday before tickets went on sale, but never bothered trying to get my hands on one, even though it used to be a goal of mine to see him perform live before the booze and sex took him like a true rockstar. He represents a part of my past I hardly relate to now, and it’s left me feeling like I need a new hero (who has some very big shoes to fill).
Little boy’s birthday parties involve a little less sexy and a lot more chaos.
I have so many friends with their paths set out for them over next 20-odd years cause of jobs and kids, yet just as many who’ve arrived at adulthood and are now wondering what’s next. After finding a career, buying a house, and getting married, they’re learning that these were goals they never wanted for themselves, only things people have always been telling them they should have. Now they’re wondering where to go from here, and how to find a true sense of fulfilment.
I went through the same crisis years ago, but feel no less uncertain about future at this point. It’s only natural to go through constant cycles of struggle and resolution if we’re determined to grow and improve, not to mention the curves life tends to throw at us. I’m starting to view it with a sense of freedom instead of doubt.