I haven’t been able to come up with a way of explaining the absence. I guess I’m still figuring out where I stand at this particular moment, and what it means to keep going. Many days were lost to the flux of ambiversion, when all I was trying to do was survive the balance of how much space I needed with how much comfort I could only get from others. Suffice it to say, I’ve learned the importance of taking the time just to feel okay, which has mostly involved enjoying the games I’ve put off playing for so long, spending time with those who make me feel wanted+needed+awesome+loved, and drafting as often as possible.
My birthday came somewhere in between, a day I got to pick all the shows, eat dirty bird, and nest with the cats on me when they weren’t in the cuddle train. It made the whole day mine, not because it was something I asked for, but because someone wanted to give that to me.
I’m slowly letting my guard down, letting myself share new songs in the dark, so the positive experiences become a permanent part of me. Making new memories is a step towards soothing my history with heartbreak. The comfort I find in our embraces carries me through the time we’re apart, but feeling safe is still very foreign. Just touching fingers is a vulnerable step, and it’s like being on a tightrope every time I put aside my insecurities to make progress. Thankfully, she hasn’t let me fall yet.
Most recently, I started working at the busiest comic book shop in the city as one of the resident Magic experts. It’s left me trying to find my balance again, even though the job is part-time and never feels like work. The position mostly involves running the tournaments, trading/selling/organizing cards, and giving people game advice; things I already love doing in my spare time. A nice bonus is the fact that a new friend happens to be one of the regulars at the Modern Constructed tourney, and I get to root for him and see how he does between matches.
Shawn even came in to say hi and give me hugs on my first day. Reminders all around that make me feel worthwhile, instead of just believing it. It’s the difference between knowing something in my head to my heart, a gap I’m starting to bridge with help from the right people.
Darren stopped by for a stay on the way to Montreal for his first multi-day holdem tournament. The first and last nights ended up being the only ones we had to ourselves. Otherwise, it was a mix of friends and strangers, sativas and incidas, coming and going through the house each day. I’m glad he was along for the ride, even though I’m always up far too late when we’re together, and it’s getting harder on my body as I get older.
It’s feels like I’m a different person, living a different life, every time we hang out. The distance between us means the change we experience is always significant enough to notice. This time my relationships have changed the most cause I’ve started compartmentalizing people, appreciating them for their strengths instead of expecting everyone to live up to some lofty set of expectations. My needs have always been the same, but I’m getting better at making sure they’re met after finally figuring out what they are. I’m also better at reading people, detecting undertone, and understanding social interactions, thanks to Shawn’s expertise rubbing off on me.
In terms of self-improvement, I’m trying to be more understanding of the world at large, while reducing my hate and increasing my patience. I’ve also started to analyze and resolve the triggers that keep me from being the person I was meant to be. The struggles I used to have only a few years ago seem so adolescent in comparison to the things I’m working on now. My priorities have matured, or I’ve grown in ways that have made old issues obsolete.
I’d never have realized any of this if Darren hadn’t showed up to pull me so far out of my regular life that I lost track of what day it was and the women I’d loved and the feeling of cold. I learn as much about myself as I do about him when we’re catching up.
It’s turned into a month of improvisation. Even my regular events are being rescheduled, so I’ve lost the only anchors I have to a normal week. It’s hard to make plans when I don’t know how I’ll feel from one day to the next. Harder when I don’t know the next chance I’ll have to spend with the people who love me the way I need to be loved. I can tell it’s been too long when I start to dwell on my insecurities, and the days feel more and more heavy.
I’m letting this period be a way for me to ease away from alternating between isolation and anxious clinging. Being busy is forcing me to pay attention to the current moment. To be present with the person I’m with, but more importantly, with myself. Otherwise, I can’t handle the thought of how much stimulation I’m facing.
Dolly’s been sleeping on my duvet again, an old habit of hers. It’s a sign that fall is here, as she prefers to swaddle in the dark when it gets too cold by the window. She also recently decided to start sleeping on my pillow1, and I can feel her purring through my skull, a new and unexpected development in our relationship. I love the fact that I’m still learning things about her, that she’s still capable of change as she approaches a decade with me. As always, I have the fall to thank.
A lot of progressive trance has been in the mix during all this upheaval. It’s a genre I’ve never purposely explored until recently. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my own covers interesting by adding lots of dynamic elements and making sure phrases aren’t used too often. These DJs do the exact opposite with lots of repetition and minimal elements, yet somehow make each song a journey in itself. It’s a pleasant puzzle to try to solve. Now I have many new addictions that have been perfect for night time rides and counting yellow highway lines.
I wonder if these songs will end up reminding me of a time I’m constantly being broken down so I can heal properly. The old ones don’t mean the same thing anymore.
Sometimes we go people-watching at the Elgin Street Diner at two in the morning. Not just cause it’s one of the only places still open, but because it tends to be too busy before then. It’s hard to point someone out or steal a glance without being noticed when the tables are all occupied.
We try to figure out relationships from the way people sit, stories from the state of their shoes. Mostly it’s young drunks, trying to settle their stomachs with some grease before heading home. Frat boys from the bars, clusters of girls in tight dresses from the clubs. The ones who’ve had too much are easy to spot: when they aren’t making a beeline to the bathroom, they’re staring at their plates, wondering how much warning they’ll need for the next run.
But every so often is an enigma, like four men in cargo shorts who aren’t young enough to be single, but not old enough to be divorced. The corporate logos on their golf shirts belie the no-upkeep, don’t-care-anymore look that comes with fatherhood. It’s a breed rarely seen out beyond nine on a Thursday night, and one that looks especially out of place at a time when the only cars on the road are taxis and cruisers.
I don’t judge, but I sure do wonder.
This is our way of escaping the regular lives we lead, before catching up on enough sleep to beat morning rush-hour on the way home, and back to another day of reality. No one told us about the roles we had to play as adults, or the responsibilities that come with it. To combat signs of aging, share onion-bacon poutine, chocolate-banana milkshakes, and a slice of peanut-butter cake every now and then. Just an hour here is plenty, as long as it’s done on a regular basis.
When we’re fending off exhaustion to spend one more moment in each other’s company, sharing food we shouldn’t eat and words we shouldn’t say, I know I’m the only one she wants to be with there. It’s more proof to me than the things she writes and the rituals we share. So many people take that kind of unspoken faith for granted, but it’s still new to me, and I’m learning how much I need to be special to someone.
The only time Rob and I ever had a private conversation was the night before Aaron’s wedding, when we were the last ones up out of the groomsmen staying at my house. Aside from that, I wasn’t sure if I’ve ever connected with him on a personal level; I’ve been discovering how differently some behave when others are around, and with Aaron or Mel in the mix, he’s got even more to prove than usual.
But I could always tell that underneath the brash and indomitable impression he gives the world is a wisdom not shared by many. It was exactly that kind of awareness I was looking to be in the company of, so I took the chance to visit when it would be just the two of us. Even though we’re so different in so many ways, it turns out the things we have in common are more significant, and I discovered he’s exactly the kind of friend I need right now.
The man-cave mostly features posters of comic book heroes and cartoon figurines, the only pictures being found in a little frame next to the computer. It was strange to see two of myself in there next to one of him sucking back a beer with Trevor. That was back when I rocked my hair with a part down the middle and occasionally some solid colour, though I don’t remember anything about it otherwise — a strange anomaly in a person with a photographic memory. Lost the hoodie, still have the coat, won’t be caught wearing those glasses again.
The only other people who have a picture of me in their homes are Aaron and Alex. I always take those photographs as a telling sign of your relationship with someone. It means they care enough to want you around even when you’re not there. I guess that’s why each of them have more photos of me than both my parents combined, and why Rob calls me brother.
The nurse comes every day to change the dressings and keep an eye out for infection. Aside from the listing hobble, you’d never have an idea of the punishment this body has borne underneath, until a wince when the tube drags against his shirt. That and the fact that there isn’t a bottle of Blue in his hand. Otherwise, the accident didn’t change Rob at all. He’s still the happy-go-lucky, take-it-on-the-chin kind of guy. To him, the world has always been simple, an equation that can be solved with muscle and mass, and he carries both answers in spades.
Under any other circumstance, I’d hate him. He’s obnoxious, stubborn, and proud; a type I don’t get along with. But I’m also on his good side, which means he’s loyal and loving unlike any other, and he shows this every time he squeezes the breath out of my chest until I’m weak and coming up for air. Through him, I’m learning to understand and accept the people I’d otherwise turn away from.
It’s not that I don’t want to write about how things are slowly changing, I just never seem to have the chance. Nowadays, my priorities are
survival elsewhere, and the written word isn’t the outlet I need anymore.
Besides, every time I try to get a thought on a page, I get lost in the scope. My thinking constantly goes further and further, as my understanding of the world moves beyond the things that affect only me. It’s made me a more patient, compassionate, and empathetic person. But by the time I figure something out, the feeling is gone, and words are no longer relevant.
I’ve been trying to leave my camera at home too, a way of forcing myself to savour each experience. It’s a delicate balance between that and my ever-present need to document everything. I’m discovering that memories aren’t as vivid as photographs, but they live longer in the implicit part of the mind, and both are food to an introvert nonetheless.
Days without a way to capture the world around me are never easy. I want to take pictures of sunlight and summer and sweat and sex, but life hasn’t been so much about events as the regularity. The moments I share every day with the people I need, or the time between when I’m recharging and healing. The things worth appreciating are more frequent, but all the more fleeting too.
Summer has been overcast, if not rainy. It’s great. I can keep every window open, and the whole day feels like it’s a dew-soaked morning on the verge of a sunrise. It’s enough to make me believe that the real summer is never coming.
These days I’m still recovering, still learning to treat myself with compassion. Sometimes it’s a blurry line between that and procrastination. I don’t know how I feel about parts of my life, parts I never questioned before, and it’s a strange uncertainty to be carrying.
That means I don’t know how to act around most people, something I haven’t had trouble with since I was a kid. I’ve been avoiding most social contact, while spending time with the few people who know me well enough to hurt me. Sometimes it’s like walking on a tightrope, waiting to fall off. Everything is an exercise in vulnerability. Luckily, they’re the right people to help me through as well, the right people to put my trust into. This is how I learn to love again.
I’m learning to be selfish too, especially at a time like this. I’ve realized how important it is to be obliged to myself, instead of constantly putting aside my feelings for the sake of others. That means understanding what I need out of my relationships, instead of trying to make them what I thought they should be. Sometimes that also means making sure I spend enough time alone.
Somewhere, I have notes on family and names, the infamy of Cuban fare, being alone together, breaking the seal, passing Damian on the way to Havana, salty hair from salty air, rum and brown, threaded fingers, not enough euchre, every life-guard trying to sell me lobster meals, patterns on palms, plus 20 minutes Cuba time, finding out how deep my scars run, blushing through my sunburn, sand everywhere and in everything.
Allie and Eric had a picturesque wedding at South Pond, a quant little farm in Bethany Hills. Their day was filled with delightful details, like carriage rides to the ceremony, dove releases, and paper lanterns. It all made for a wedding film that never loses it’s momentum. Even though I’ve been working with a composer to score my most recent films, I still take special requests from couples who want me to use songs that have personal meaning to them, and in this case it was Such Great Heights by The Postal Service.
I cut my teeth on filmography and discovered my personal style when spending time on Eric and Mark’s farm in Bancroft. Back then, I had a cheap camcorder1 but needed a subject, they had the snowboarding skills but needed a documentarian. That’s how I gained crucial experience with editing, composing, and grading, though it would be years before I got a real camera and finally understood aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as well. Filming Eric getting married was like coming around full-circle, where I could apply all the things I’ve learned through the years since those weekends spent in the country with his family and friends.
I haven’t had much to say, which is always a strange state to be in. Probably due to the fact that I’m making a conscious effort to listen more and speak less. You begin to wonder about the importance of your thoughts, and what really needs to be said.
It feels like I’m between…things. I’ve recently finished off a few projects, so I’m taking a break before I start another productivity binge. Me-time has mostly involved winning drafts and cashing in wagers. Lisa’s off to Hawaii for her honeymoon so it’ll be a month before I see her again, but that gives me a much-needed chance to spend time with the friends who aren’t part of my regular schedule.
The cats are into their spring cycles, shedding like mad, and sleeping by the door during the day. I’m tempted to cut my hair short again in anticipation of the heat, but I’m having too much fun growing it out right now. I’ve decided to embrace the length cause I know I’ll get sick of it eventually and cut of it off, like any other cycle of growth and loss, love and hate.
Spring officially begins when I can leave the windows in my house open all day. This only lasts about a week though, and is also around the time I have to remember to turn the stereo down at red lights and residential areas, a small price to pay for the simple pleasure of waking up with a breeze on my face.
It’s been more than a year since I’ve been on a schedule. Even the number of meals I have in a day has started to vary. Goals and deadlines are what help me keep pace. I know this can’t last forever, so I’m taking advantage of the time to be free and explore and establish the bonds I’ll need for the next stage of my life.
The struggle now is about balance, mostly between nourishing myself and my relationships, as there’s rarely enough time for both lately. Thankfully, spring is teaching me patience too. I’ve stopped trying to control everything, and I’m letting go of the tendency to want things be to be different from how they are right now.
The old me would have been scared to so unreservedly place myself in the hands fate. Now I know I’ll be okay if I can find happiness in however things are at any moment.
It’s all a bit of a blur now, especially since we agree it feels like it’s been a year since my responsibilities as a son and a cousin and a friend in Toronto. I do remember trying to balance the caffeine — so I could be clear-headed and enjoying myself — with the insomnia that comes from having so much energy every night. Also, these acts of guerrilla happiness where messages of hope were expressed through posters and spray paint. It would appear that vandalism crosses over into art only in cities with a skyline worth mentioning.
We ended up at the Ontario Science Centre twice, once as nerds and again as wedding guests, which worked out cause the only exhibit we didn’t get a chance to see one day ended up being the only exhibit open to us during the reception. The highlight is always the planetarium though, in all it’s bean-bag, time-traveling glory, the experience itself worth the price of admission. With the exception of a poor facsimile of dragon’s beard candy, everything worked out.
It’s good to have something to write about again. To have friends who are comforting and kind in my most sensitive moments, and just as importantly, things to confide in them. Good hair days. Reasons to wear something nice. Dreams without desire. Feelings without fear.
I never realized how much I needed a get away until I came home and got more done in a week than in the month before I left. Without a guitar or a workload or an internet connection or a routine or any of my decks, detaching from life as I knew it was a simple matter. Maybe that’s why it felt like I was gone for so long, even though time passed so quickly. The only real consideration I ever had was how I’d like to spend each particular moment, and presented with that kind of freedom, I learned to truly let go of everything else.
We’ve started making wagers in our multiplayer Magic games, small baubles or other people’s property or an half-hour of labour1 to add another dimension to the gameplay. For a particular three-way match, I anted my attendance at Catan Catan Strip-Catan cause I couldn’t make up my mind on going. Another busy week meant I was tired of being social — with the possibility of being naked in such a situation, no less — but it still sounded like a night that shouldn’t be passed up.
Tiana and Shawn teamed up on me, since they wanted me to go more than they wanted to win what I had offered. However, they’ve also been making me feel comfortable with myself lately (the cuddles always help), so I was okay with being tackle-out at some point during the party. I ended up winning all my Catan matches anyway, and never needed to take off more than an accoutrement.