April 11, 2012

wax wings

The short version: east van party, invite from an old and incisive friend, creative writing MFAs, jokes about jokes about Lisa Loeb and Foucault and how he'd deal with her only hearing what she wanted to, a house named for its insane chandeliers, dancing well/terribly to a soundtrack split between relative modernity and highschool throwbacks, being reminded of who I was via a lengthy and detailed retelling of a weekend I don't remember and the things I got up to then, and then being given a reading which was both an obituary/about an obituary and also sort of compound heartbreaking.

tl;dr: a successful house party outing was had.

After this, an uneventful rest, a decent brunch with delightful company, a post-brunch adventure with different, delightful company, a haircut and the return of sunshine and a breeze about my ears and a bunch of musical guilty pleasures, before returning to Kits to take in an in-store performance (with a brief stopover to fall in nerd-love with a knife, which I had to sleep on, decision-wise, then went to buy and had to raincheck but now own.)

Full of free beer and late-March sunshine, I ran into a couple of my ex's friends, ones I'd met in Kelowna that time I went up to meet his parents (still a story for another time,) whose party we basically relocated at New Years' Eve, and into whom I ran periodically, by virtue of us all being into similar music and my tendency to hole up in coffee shops near their workplace. Unaware of my newly-single status until I told them (noting, grimly, their lack of surprise: both at the end of things and also at how they found out from me and not him,) we had one of those music-is-the-new-weather sort of discussions (appropriate, given the setting,) and then I got told: come over, drink, play video games. You're not seeing him any more, but we should still hang out.

Unsure of what I was getting myself into, some reflexive politeness kicked in and I found myself nodding, agreeing, making plans to meet a friend I'd only ever heard of as someone I would like, immensely, if the three of us were ever in the same city. Leaving Zulu with Kai, I wondered, aloud, what I was getting myself into, and then I was distracted by thoughts about that knife I wanted, and then I didn't bother thinking about it very much until Monday rolled around.

In fairness to everybody I actually saw that Monday, the visit and the gaming and the new-to-me friend were all uniformly pretty alright. It's certainly sort of surreal to deliver the end-of-relationship timeline to a bunch of people who would, in theory, be hearing it from the other half of the no-longer-relationship, and there's not much validation stranger than the sort received therein. Being told it wasn't a thing I did (but it also wasn't a thing I could do much about,) by people whose knowledge of his (apparently not terribly wide-ranging) interior states far surpassed my own (arguably my exposure was temporally incomparable but also wholly different in approach,) was a surprising comfort, and when conversation shifted (as it does, naturally, because this was all normal,) I realized that this bit wasn't a mistake, and that the nature of our relationship hadn't allowed for much cross-pollination of our friends, meaning that most things my people knew had been filtered through me (or witnessed, briefly, before we went off to make the most of the time we had alone,) and so this room of viewpoints was just as necessary as the ones I'd been consulting.

After the traded heartbreak stories, video games, a whole lot of "oh man have you heard this," and a surprisingly decent green curry, I headed home; feeling like I'd dodged a bullet, and so, unthinkingly, reached for my phone, fired up a Twitter client, and posted about what I'd been up to.

The response was immediate, and started out as public messages and then moved back to texts; focused on what had just happened, and how it came about, and how great the people I'd spent time with were, and what did I mean my siblings had known about us: I owed him a story.

I deflected, via text, and said something callous, and then thought better, and then explained that this was why I wasn't ready to be friends. He shifted topics, suddenly, and I nudged it back, and he shifted again; I found myself sort of puzzled by his obvious discomfort (while also trying to push down the urge to either throw my phone out a window or just leave it somewhere while I ran away from it,) and then made him do it again, realizing that it was a perhaps a sore spot for him, still, and wondered idly if maybe he wasn't over it as I thought he was.

Making an excuse to end the conversation (phone's dying, take care, we'll do this when I'm ready,) I was struck by how much I had wanted it to go like it had before; high-speed irreverence, how-was-your-day and what-the-hell-politics balanced with all the stupid in-jokes I'd derived comfort from, somehow, and the knowledge that the country that was in the way wasn't actually something that came between us. Of course, there no longer was an us, there, which also meant that his emotional state was a thing I didn't get advanced access to, nor was it something I needed to concern myself with, I thought.

He got bored, I said to myself, he's not yours, any more, let it go.

It didn't work, and then I found another set of archives, and then I realized I'd flown too close to the sun, and that avoiding thinking about a thing was by no means the same as being done with it, and as I pored through aggregated tweets (only the last 3200; in my case it goes back about ten months, in his it goes back about three years,) and rediscovered our google talk logs, (both of which more accessible than the text message archive I rightly am afraid to unpack—sleeping dogs, I think,) the dull ache I'd gotten used to became sharper, and I felt the all-too-familar sensation of anxiety rising, and the world falling away.

I don't really feel the need to rehash this, thus the short version (again): it sucked, for a while, and I lost my appetite again (and was resultantly a little worried about my relative asslessness and the state of my pants selection,) but things got better, slowly, and I filed away some more things I'd learned about myself, yet again.


April 04, 2012


Strut, fret, stamp, frown; walk it off, as if charley horses and broken hearts could be mended, alike.

Having been told that a city had taken my place in the heart of my no-longer-boyfriend, it seemed like a reasonable response to reclaim the one I'd grown up in, drowning out heartache with footfalls and preempting tears (that never came) with rain on cheekbones. So I went, across bridges, through liminal zonings, and into places I knew as if they were places I didn't; bearing headphones as social insulation and camera mostly out of force of habit.

With the world blocked out, I tried not to have imaginary conversations with the ex-lover in my head—mined from hindsight, those comprehensive and brutal archives scattered about the internet and the conversations I remember in all the places we exposed ourselves, figuratively and literally; both incomplete and exaggerated, it was the only place I could hope to find the barest insight. Though I knew it was a terrible idea, I prodded until the ache in my heart became a pit in my stomach, (like any other bruise that gets poked both to refresh the lingering painful memory of its origin and to assess the damage that still needs healing,) and wandered through days: glass-eyed and teetering, remembering to put a mask on in the appropriate places; working, slowly, towards feeling like an actual person again, and not some bearded shade, fuelled by bafflement and confusion and displeasure, yearning for an unknowable answer (as if knowing the whys or hows of a thing could make dealing with its fallout any easier.)

Throughout all this, my sister was in the hospital; her pregnancies having always been weirdly tense things, it came as little surprise that she'd been put on bed rest again, supervised to ensure minimal activity and shot full of things to address the problems that resulted in her admission and then shot full of some more things because lying around for a month solid results in a whole other host of issues. Also, there were blood tests and ultrasounds and various medical proddings scattered throughout, which meant that visits (daily, for as long as possible, usually after work and bearing better-than-hospital food,) were occasionally interrupted by some well-meaning and thankfully competent medical type person, sometimes shooing me away (what brother would want to know these things,) but also sometimes furnishing me with complexly technical discussions of what sort of things were going on as far as impending niece/nephew and/or the state of my sister's lady parts (see above re: what brother would want to know these things.)

In the midst of this, we got to talking: more and longer than we had in recent memory, and so my constant internal tug-of-war began anew, which, funnily enough, turned out to be a non-issue. Nestled deep in a conversation about why I was moving and how come I kept going to Toronto all of a sudden, my sister relayed an anecdote about our older brother: he kept tabs on her when she was my age (we've got an eight year gap,) while she was out without parental consent/knowledge and she would, accordingly, receive vague but supportive messages on her pager; stay safe, he'd say, I know where you are, let me know if you need a ride or things get weird. I'd never get these, she said, brotherhood being a different sort of beast (rendered stranger still by our nine year difference straddling a generational gap, to some extent,) but he worried, and he kept an ear to the ground, and when last summer rolled around and I kept leaving town for weddings (among other things,) they put their heads together, and found some things out. The short version: they knew I was gay, they'd known I was dating a man for about half the duration of our relationship, (from about I went to meet his parents—still a story for another time,) they were convinced I was moving to be closer to him and not for school, and they were concerned that this would be the end of me. Not in a death way per se, but in a self-exile no contact way; all of us will admit that we're not the fondest of each other but will freely fuck up whatever vector of discontent needs addressing, in the way of all siblings, really, and so the notion of leaving/cutting all ties over what turned out to be non-issues seems ridiculous, in retrospect.

Neither sibling was mad, or disappointed, or hurt; there was some surprise that I'd kept it from them for so long, agreement that keeping our parents in the dark was a necessity at the time but that they needed to hear about from me before they heard about it from someone else, and a low-level grudging admiration for having kept so much of it well-hidden for so long. I didn't ask about exactly how it came about; it seemed superfluous given what else I was being told and how much better I felt, being a little closer to no longer living a lie.

The rest of the week passed, the weather got better, and I did too, somewhat. I slept too little hammering out another one of these posts, and so I bailed on Friday post-work drinking after an early shift to slump on a couch and watch Avatar (the cartoon with the warrior-children; nobody is physically blue in it,) noting that buried in the back half of the final season of a kids show were surprisingly mature discussions of trust, communication, and ethics; I was going to talk about this to someone and then thought about drawing parallels and then laughed at myself, realizing that if I was suddenly drawing life lessons from kids shows (albeit excellent ones,) then maybe it was time to go drink in a house full of strangers. So we did.