Here I am in the cold basement. My fingers are chilled and my knuckles ache from the start of what I’m certain must be arthritis. The tip of my turned-up nose is cold and I glance over to the soft, sage coloured chair where my curly-haired companion lays sleeping and dreaming. I know she’s dreaming because I hear the occasional canine moan.
It’s been a helluva year. And spring is on its way again.
This is my office now. I have a space heater that I put on when I feel the draft at my back. It’s aimed squarely at my legs under the desk, as it hums and pivots. It’s a ridiculous ritual I perform when I put it on full steam, then minutes later have to turn it off because I feel like my face will burn off and my pants must be on fire (that is if I happen to wear pants). Sometimes I literally feel like I will pass out from the sweat beads. The blasted menopausal hot flashes don’t really help. If only I could bring them on when I want them, I could get rid of the space heater.
I have felt tired a fuck ton. I haven’t been sleeping well. Night sweats raid my sleep. I go to bed freezing, laying my head on Dan’s chest and curling my feet up on top of his to warm me up. Scant minutes later, I have beads of sweat pouring down between my boobs, I mean a well of sweat beads; it soaks anything I have on. The inside of my arms too, get soaked with sweat and my feet feel like they’re on fire. I throw off the covers while I flip over the pillow so the other side can cool the back of my neck.
Sleep has escaped me for other reasons too. Will I get the virus? Will Dan get the virus and then give it to me? Will someone we know and love get it? Will any of us die? Will the small businesses in our town and the neighbouring cities survive? Will our economy tank? Will I ever get to see my brother, his wife and their family again? Are the kids safe? Will I ever find a job that makes me happy; makes me feel fulfilled? What if I die before I finish my memoir? What if Dan dies and leaves me alone; again?
I tend to catastrophize, a word I rarely used in a sentence until now.
Eventually I get back to gratefulness. I have so much to be grateful for and it always puts me in a better state of mind. Humility is important.
Sobriety. I’ve gone long stretches this year without a drop of booze and it has been really fucking hard. I’ve allowed myself to feel all of the welled-up emotions I pushed down from as far back as childhood. I’ve bawled and yelled and blamed and eventually accepted my story.
Podcasting. Doing a podcast with Leah Hunt has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in likely a decade. I felt at home again. I missed broadcasting and wondered if I’d ever get to use the skills I had, and learn some news ones, ever again. Grateful for the experience and the growth it has afforded both of us.
Privilege. Despite hiding my fucked-up childhood and family from most folks, and secretly thinking how hard done by I had been, I realized with astounding clarity how much privilege I have, simply because of the colour of my skin. I have floundered and fumbled but I’ve tried to, and am still, learning to unlearn.
I have found myself wondering often this year, how did we get here? And by ‘we’ I mean humanity. And by ‘here’ I mean the state of our society; our world.
My eyes welled up with joyous tears the other day, as I watched Canada geese in flight. Like teary eyed, just from geese flying overhead.
My little family was out for a hike by a little pond, in our small chunk of SW Ontario.
I couldn’t help but feel emotional as we watched several ‘heats’ practicing takeoff and flight, presumably for an impending trip. I was stopped in my tracks and could not look away.
The pond was literally full of honking geese, of various ages and sizes, many of them flying over our heads, in perfect formation.
How can one not be amazed by Mother Nature and all the creatures under her realm?
A touch of shame came over me that at 53, I’d never stood and appreciated the magnitude of this magnificent event.
The irony is that I am terrified of birds.
As a child, visiting friends of my parents, a bird was let out of its cage, only to land on my head and meticulously go through my hair, pulling on each strand with its beak.
It startled me into the world where everyone’s eyes were on me, as a bird picked through my hair. I didn’t appreciate the scrutiny of either party. Birds didn’t seem so serene and quiet to me then.
After that incident, I would then be petrified that any bird, at any time, could possibly do this to me again. And if I was indoors, and I spied a bird, in or out of its cage, I’d rush out immediately.
But I have always thought of birds as beautiful creatures; always admired them. I have always longed for their freedom, their beauty, their comradery.
Growing up, we moved around a few times but I distinctly remember living out in the country, near where my maternal grandmother lived, in the Ottawa Valley.
I mostly recall the quiet. It was so very quiet, save the sound of crows cawing. “CAW! CAW!”
It was the only thing that broke the silence and it hung in the air on sunny summer days.
Being in nature takes me back to that time. It was a simple time; a carefree time with nothing but the quiet; sort of like a blank canvas.
The geese brought me back to that feeling; back to that simplicity; back to that vast openness.
How did our world get to a place where emotions are to be obscured, repressed, rebuked? How did we get to a place where showing emotions should be met with embarrassment? How did we get to a place where connection to one’s centre; to one’s vulnerability is not revered and rewarded, but quite the opposite, it is considered weak and undesirable? How did we get to a place where busyness and output is the measure of success? How did we get to a place where distraction and numbness are pursued because we have nowhere for our emotions and our longing for connection to go? How did we get to such a place of division and deception?
We remember the pieces and moments of connection after someone has passed. We are wired to connect and those are the moments we remember when someone isn’t there.
The things that brought us close to them; the things that brought them comfort; the things they shared with us; the vulnerability they shared with us; the glimpse into their humanity; their goodness; their realness. Those are the things humans remember.
The things that should make us all the same.
And that’s what we’re getting a look at now. The string of moments woven together, of the people that have touched our lives; touched our humanness.
We get to appreciate what we took for granted before. We get to right what was wronged.
I’m not sure I will ever look at geese the same way again. It was some sort of weird epiphany for me.
It makes me less afraid of birds; less afraid of the emotions that came; and less afraid to be… me.
I am hopeful.