I don’t know what to say. but I figure if i just start writing something true will come out. My head is full, my heart is tattered but the scar tissue is strong. Fort McMurray, a small city in Northeast Alberta, is on fire. 88,0000 people have been evacuated. their homes are ash and cinder. It’s awesome in the biblical sense of the word. I think of the time that my ‘fridge caught fire and smoked me out of my house for six months. I didn’t lose everything, I stayed in town, my place was rebuilt, my neighbours were okay, and helped me. It was easy. But Fort Mac, now, it’s all ash and cinder. Consumed.
I think of my friend who moved there a decade ago, more, to be an electrician. I think of my brother, the quality control guy for a firetruck sales company. He sometimes delivers trucks up there. His livelihood depends, though indirectly, on the gas and oil industry up there. Everyone’s does, really, in Alberta. Nearly everyone.
an ex lover of mine moved there last summer with her husband (I know. I have a bit of a pattern, looks like. never mind, that’s another story). She’s really smart and generous, and has a gift for communicating and facilitating understanding. A bright light, she is. Our breakup is in the lesbian record books as the most loving and gentle of all break ups. We went out for dinner and gave each other appreciations for all we gained from each other. She gave me love and acceptance at a really lonely time — she admired me when my confidence was flagging and and encouraged my writing. We encouraged each other. We went to the gym together, we did the BCMC trail together for the first time for each of us (the grind was closed at the time), we went to feminist events and helped to organize some, too. We went together to Michfest in 2009! We hosted lesbian feminist dinner parties — until we broke up, and even after we still kept up for a bit. We did pack a lot in in our brief time together.
I’m not easy to be with, I think. I’m kind of self-involved and I’m hella messy, holy shit. I have a million things on the go and new shiny things keep crossing my path. I’m emotionally expressive, which is sometimes a good thing — you know what you’re gonna get from me from 50 paces — but I can be mercurial, volatile. More so then, when we were lovers seven years ago now. I was newly sober (again), and rough around the edges. She was patient with me. I was not so much. She was in the midst of big changes — career-wise mostly, and experiencing some depression and uncertainty because of that. She’s twenty years younger than I am. almost. We helped each other grow up, in a way.
Why am I writing all this?
She’s dying. She’s only 33 and she’s riddled with cancer and she’s in her hometown with her mom and her siblings and her husband and she’s dying. I can’t remember where i put my keys, or who i promised to see today, or how to do simple things sometimes. I can’t walk in my fucking house without tripping over something but i keep bidding on shit I don’t need on ebay…We are not in each other’s lives anymore, but we were important to each other once, and the things we fell in love with are still there —
And my last lover, she liked her too–this would be something we could talk about, think about, feel about together. this is one of those times when it would be good to belong somewhere. with someone. Anguish is a good word for this.
never mind. i send Joanna some picture of beauty every day, I play my accordion every day, i send her cards in the mail, I pray to my ancestors (because i don’t believe in god but i do believe in grandma) every day, and I try to remember where i put my damn keys, and to take my asthma medicine and to read those articles for school next week, and to smile at people I meet and I try to be patient and to expect the best of people. That’s what Joanna does, she expects the best of people. Especially people who have not had those expectations, the people who are perpetual “clients”. Joanna, who is dying, always raised the bar, and gave people what they needed to meet her expectations and to get beside her. Now you would see, in her hospital room, on her facebook page, wherever she has been, traces of the love and respect and faith she gave so generously returning to her as she walks toward that final doorway here. Gathered in the arms of her family, her friends. She is leaving. She is leaving her gifts for us.