day to day

unrequited friendship

have you ever fallen for someone, a new acquaintance, a not-so new acquaintance, in a big way? in a head-over-heels, i adore this person from the bottom of my tiny heart i could sit at the feet of this person and gaze up adoringly and listen just listen to anything said and treasure any dew drops of attention paid my way–have you ever?

and not in that way, i mean not in the way of i want to marry you and have children with you and share a bed with you and grow old with you, no. i mean in the way of best friends. i want to be your best friend and share secrets and get into scrapes with you and tap all the wisdom of your experience and say oh so casually to people at a gathering: that person over there, the talented, beautiful, intelligent and competent one, that one, that person and i are friends. reaping vicarious fame and accomplishment. rubbing shirtsleeves with an admiring public. yes.

or no. because sometimes that’s just not how it turns out. sometimes the other just isn’t into you. not in that way. the other has other, better friends and no room for more. the other doesn’t admire you, perhaps, the adoration is not reciprocated.

and the desired intimate conversations over a glass of wine do not happen. the shared eyebrow-raising across a room–oh, oh can you believe what was just said, we know better than that, we share a smirk that needs no words. that connection that needs no explanation of why that is funny or why that is not–doesn’t precisely disconnect, no, it never actually hooks up at all. like a ditch dug for new fibre optic wires to link the neighbourhood to the world-wide-web but then money runs out and the cables are never laid and eventually the ditch fills with water in the rainy season and people start talking about hazards and pets and children and eventually no-one remembers the glorious potential that began the venture. nothing gained.

i am left with yearning for something that never happened. loss for something that, never begun, was more missed–like a bus or an opportunity–than lost. how can i mourn for something lost that i never had? it was that tantalizing glimpse of possibility. that dream friendship emerging from the mists of imagining. the smile, the first handshake. the voice and the shining intelligence and the taste in clothes and the political and intellectual priorities and…it didn’t pan out. i am left on the sidelines, an onlooker while others bask in the glory of being in the inner circle. occasional encounters are bittersweet. i wonder if it would be better to cut all ties? would i suffer less?


Summer cleaning

How is this different from the proverbial spring cleaning? It definitely feels different, partly because of the heat, which saps my resolve, draws me with the slightest excuse down to the main floor where it’s cooler than the top floor of my 100+ year old row house. One tiny excuse more and I’m down in the basement where it’s actually cool enough to stop the sweat that makes my t-shirt stick to my skin like a grotesque piece of clinging, strangling, oh get this thing off of me, piece of over-sized seaweed. No exaggeration intended.


But the basement isn’t the summer cleaning target; I can meander down there quite legitimately from time to time to put on a load of laundry but then I have to go back up. And the heat hits me in the face so I feel like someone’s turned the pore-tap on and in less time than it takes to say, “this is ridiculous” I’m (re)covered in a most unbecoming sheen of sweat.


So what’s the urge for a cleaning now? Clearly it’s not for the fun of it. I think about this question as I take a much-deserved break from the action to flop into a chair on the back porch. And I see that it’s a double-bind thing, the lurching toward lethargy of hot summer days that leaves laundry folded but not put away, floors gritty but unswept, blueberries moldering in the fridge and never quite making their way into a pie. Now I can say lethargy has indeed arrived: messy build-up has relentlessly taken over the house. Languid summer swelter created this mess, and, from where I sit (on the porch, in the shade), it looks like it’ll probably remain status quo until autumn.


postcard story

today i received a postcard from a friend. in the mail. you know. the mail.

i don’t know how long it took to reach me. i wondered about that question for a moment, as i held the card in my hands, and it took me longer than i like to admit to remember that little old the thing, the postmark, that gets stamped on things that go through the mail, recording what day it was picked up by the post office from the mailbox (which may not be the same day it was put there, by the sender, particularly if it’s mailed from a rural location), and roughly where that mailbox was. or where the nearest post office to that mailbox was, or is, anyway.

so i ceased my bemused admiration of the picture of long grasses, a lake, and a sunset, and turned the postcard over. the postmark was no more than a smudge on the k.d. lang commemorative stamp. a big enough smudge to spoil the picture, but smudgy enough to be completely illegible. you wouldn’t actually know that something was supposed to be written there.

the post office appears to be determined to hang on to what little remains of its power over human communication, through the tool of mystification. i am barred from discovering, via crown corporation authority, the mailing date of this card.

but just so you know, my friend has been home from her holiday for more than a week.

so the postcard’s journey was…long.

this differs remarkably from the length of time it takes an email to reach me.

i’m just sayin’.

the message my dear friend chose to send me by this (what might appear to some to be grotesquely slow) method is this:

i wish you didn’t live so far away…”

this message, when i read it, made me laugh so loud that the dog woke from her nap and slunk out of the room with a most reproachful look on her face. at the same time, tears that were not laughter came into my eyes.

so close and yet so far away. the funny thing is, my friend lives very close to me; i could, if i wished, drive to her house right this minute and (assuming she is there) see her in less than 5 minutes. or maybe exactly 5 minutes. certainly a very few minutes. but at the time that she wrote the message on the postcard she was far away, in rural ontario. i was still where i always am, 5 minutes (or so) away from her house.

i wish you didn’t live so far away…”

…she writes, and i think, “i wish i didn’t, too.” and i don’t really know what i mean by that or what she meant by that, but it makes me feel sad.

one bucket at a time

it’s late at night, late summer; the temperature, even at this hour, is in the late 20s. 

it’s been hot and dry for days on end; here in the rainforest where i live this is a relatively rare thing.

i have complex system of watering thirsty plants that involves buckets in the sink to catch all the water from rinsing hands or potatoes or plates and i carry the buckets full of water out to the plants on the porch and in the yard. it’s time consuming. a hose would be faster and less tiring. but i am committed to my own little contrivance of water conservation.

one less litre of water down the drain. one more living growing plant in the city.

i call it my ‘grey water system’ because once at a fair–one of those big ones with livestock in barns and a building full of hawkers, “ladies come close, look at this cheese grater, have you seen a better one?” –there was a building, a really big one with a full-sized house in it, the house of the future and to show all its fabulous features the walls were clear plexiglass (i’m elaborating just a bit, to sound like i know what i’m talking about; i confess don’t know the type of plastic it was, something see-through. could be plexiglass, right? sounds good to me). the point of all this is that this house of the future featured a grey water system, meaning that water from the sinks was re-used in the toilet and laundry water was used on the garden. no buckets required; it was all accomplished with pipes connecting things together. i fell in love (or maybe it was lust).

not having the resources to re-pipe a house that i didn’t own anyway, i began the bucket odyssey.

my family resists it, i’m not sure why. i catch them washing lettuce and allowing the water to flow down the drain. they pour cooked pasta into the strainer and let the water escape. i think of my thirsty garden and wince, just a little. i avoid being obsessive or nagging, but just barely.

and now, late at night, a sudden downpour. water, water, everywhere. and lightning, and distant rumbling. i hear a girl shriek and run down the street outside, no doubt seeking cover.  i wonder where the dog is; she doesn’t like thunder.

but then it stops. it’s kind of weird, all that rattling, pattering, booming, roar of the rainstorm suddenly stops and the space it leaves takes a moment to fill. a moment before a helicopter growls its way overhead, a car hisses by on the wet street. and in through the window, the smell of wet. wet dust after days and days of heat and dryness. the smell of wet asphalt.  a surprisingly good smell.