–I’m sitting in Planet Coffee on my day off. We had a mighty surge of rain all morning, but now the sun has burst through quite golden and everything feels autumnal, as though the city saw a calendar page and decided abruptly to put on its prettiest oranges and reds. Similarly I’m sitting by the window, watching people pass by and putting on their lives in my mind, trying to see if this or that one will fit.
I’m missing you. Not like a blow to the ribcage, but like a cloud passing over, which seems to me to be a comparatively healthy way to miss someone. Nothing like devastation; just an ache now and then to let you know you are overextending a limb as you reach for someone absent. The contrast of being ‘with’ and being ‘without’. That makes me think of how you teased me for my declaration that I like the contrast of leaving open a window at night, to let in a sharp cut of cold air while I am bundled in wraps and covers.
“So just your nose, then,” you laughed. “Such contrast. Just a little pinprick!” And then you had to defend yourself from a volley of swats–but mostly I was delighted by that unexpected streak of mischief.
As I was walking down Elgin yesterday I noticed the colours in Minto Park had changed, apparently overnight. ‘At this rate the leaves will have fallen before you have a chance to see them,’ I thought. Just as there are natural parts of ourselves that aren’t revealed unless we are alone there are certain elements that emerge in our relationships, and this habit of turning aside to observe something in the world is one of mine. For instance: just now, two little birds fluttered into the coffee shop, looking only mildly bemused by the change in scenery and determined to act as though they belonged. They even hopped along side by side, like a couple deciding which table to take. “There, or there? And do you want to be facing the window?”
I think you would have liked it. The birds, the way they invited themselves in, and the way they seemed to have reasoned that we were all simply pecking at our respective crumbs and if they went about it with an air of practiced nonchalance they wouldn’t be discovered. These are the things I would have said, if you’d been there.
Sometimes we can barely get through a conversation as we walk down a street because I am so busy pointing things out: A statue of a lion, a figure of a saint outside a church, the silhouette of a cat down an empty side street. Lately when I leave for work the sky is dark, and I can see, quite clearly, Orion’s Belt; I’ve been wanting to tell you about that as well. I wouldn’t call myself observant, exactly—if anything, I propagate chaos precisely because the wrong thing is constantly snagging my attention. But whatever that trait is, call it being distracted, fanciful, childlike, or cursed with a short attention span, it’s something that comes naturally to me. Either I ‘turn aside’ to make observations to the one with me, or, if no-one is there, I ‘turn aside’ and write.
But in both cases, it’s the same inclination and the same urge: to tell someone that I have seen, that the world made me a little more myself. To connect. To not be alone. Usually these impulses result in nonsense, since that is more or less the shape of my thoughts generally; but knowing this you ask pertinent questions anyway.
How good it is, to ‘not be alone’ with you.
See you on the other side,