My single-lens reflex used to be a constant companion on my trips, something I carried with me everywhere so I could have visual records of my experiences. Nowadays, my only intention is survival. Always trying to make sure I’m never too hungry, tired, anxious, or sober, lest I have breakdown in an unfamiliar place. It leaves little room for comfort, even less for any form of artistic expression. Fortunately, I always have with me a smartphone with a camera. It may not be able to give me the razor-thin depth-of-field that I favour, but it can capture things in slow motion, which is great for cockapoos who are born to fetch.
I thought I was stable enough to make it a few hours in a house alone with one of her brothers, but the anxiety attack I had while trying to fall asleep taught me otherwise. Being in the presence of a person with such a flat affect reminds me too much of the time in my life when I was so numb and broken that nothing could provoke interest or emotion. Sometimes I’ll find him in a lounge chair for hours, legs reclined, completely motionless and silent and staring into space. Even though we’re all glad he’s home and no longer living on the streets, being around him can be a discomforting still-face experiment I’d rather not take part in.
Her mom knows how hard it is for me to leave the house, let alone travel to another town, so she always makes her contentment known when I show up at her door. The shelves in her house are adorned with pictures of couples, families, children, records of a life rich with friendships and memories. I’m honoured to be among them, for I cannot concede to being significant enough to take up such space in many other homes.
She’s the closest I’ll ever have to a mother-in-law, and she gives me a hug and tells me she loves me for the first time as we leave. Heather will later ask if I think it’s true, knowing how hard it can be for me to process and accept love after so many broken relationships with significant people. I tell her I haven’t been given a reason believe otherwise.