You may recall back in June that I went through a bit of a nostalgic phase. I summed it up to unconsciously reaching a 25-year milestone, but it is when I fleshed out my thoughts about why I’m still in Halifax and why the heck I don’t finally just go to Montréal. I believe that by telling everyone — in person and in this blog — I have done the reverse of sabotaging myself: everybody thinks it the right thing for me to do, and my day-job employer is quite willing to accommodate me since it doesn’t matter where in Canada I live because I work at home.
During that period of reflection, I wrote an entry where I musically walked down Memory Lane. In that entry, I made a reference to my first ex and wondered what ever happened to him. But just last week, I found him in Facebook and we’ve exchanged a few e-mails in which we’ve started to catch up on the last 20-plus years of our lives.
It’s funny. Reading his e-mails, I still hear him. He hasn’t really changed, and that’s comforting somehow. He now lives in the Ottawa region, and we agreed that once I’m in Montréal, we’ll have to make a point of touching base in person. I’m looking forward to it.
I have to admit there are days when everything around me seems a little bit surreal. One thing there isn’t, is inertia. I wish El Poema and I weren’t living in two different countries right now, but that’s the only negative and I don’t see it as a permanent feature. Really, everything else is positive. I even think the current situation with El Poema has some positive to it: I certainly can’t take him for granted, now or ever.
Gone When You Most Need It
A few minutes ago, I was still working away at the day job when I heard the Skype phone ring on the other computer. I clicked on the switch to gain access to the other computer and answered. Of course I knew who was calling …except I didn’t expect that I would also see El Poema’s mother on the screen!
So what happened next? I instantly forgot every single word of Spanish I’ve ever learned and felt like a total idiot! Tongue-tied doesn’t even begin to describe the state I was in! I wanted to exchange a few basic plesanteries with her and I just couldn’t! Fortunately, El Poema thought it was funny and he kindly translated for both of us. All I could think is that she probably thought, “What the hell does my son see in this gringo?”
I’m reminded of how my mother tried for years and years to learn English, and would say that as soon as she was put on the spot, it’s as if she had never studied the language a single day in her life. I’m going to have to remind myself that it doesn’t matter if I speak it very badly at first. Making the effort is what matters. And I have about 85 days to reach the point where I can string together a few sentences in the present tense instead of looking like roadkill a few seconds before becoming roadkill.
Putting a Finger on It
It might be glaringly obvious to an onlooker, but it came to me as a bit of an epiphany this morning. That is, trying to grasp what that “happy/sad” feeling is about. Quite simply, I love him so much that I don’t want to deny him anything, and I get very sad and blue when I don’t have to give what he asks for. A bit like if someone literally asked you for the moon, and of course, since you don’t own the moon…
On the other hand, there are five fingers.
I’m remembering our drive to Québec City. The sun was shining and the sky was impecably blue as this song was playing on the CD player.
Holly Cole, I Can See Clearly Now (mp3, 4.0 MB, 4:12)
— I give you the blue sky,” I told him, making a sweeping gesture with my right hand over the dashboard.
— Thank you very much,” he replied, nodding and smiling but pretending to be serious, playing right along.
Such magical moments do help bring things into perspective, don’t they!
I Don’t Know Why I’m So Happy, I’m Sad
This post shares its title with a particularly forgettable song by Michael Franks.
I Don’t Know Why… (mp3, 4.0 MB, 4:15)
I came unglued the night I met you
I felt my life divide by two
You’d think by now I would know better
Love is always blue
Thursday I had my bi-weekly meeting with AnShe, my supervisor at the day job. We talk several times a week, but this is our regularly scheduled “one-on-one” so that I can keep her posted on my progress based on my semi-annual performance report, to which staff’s (considerable) annual bonus is linked. It sounds like it might be very formal and stuffy, but the relationship between AnShe and me is anything but. And we always speak in French.
Anyway, the last point I raised at the end of our talk was the need to start the paperwork for that permission for a week off I want at year’s end, a process we could only start now that The Woman is back from vacation. I didn’t expect to hear about an outcome for a few more days, but no less than an hour later, my phone rings. “Okay, I spoke with The Woman about your time off,” I heard AnShe say. “Go ahead and book your ticket!” Needless to say (so why say it?), I was thrilled to hear the news and said, “Not only am I happy, but I can assure you someone in Mexico will be just as thrilled.”
Followed a little pause, a hesitation, until finally AnShe asked, “Mind if I ask you an ‘indiscreet’ question?” I instantly knew what she wanted to ask and I had no qualms in her asking about the identity of the “someone in Mexico.” I simply said, “Well, you do the ‘Facebook thing’ as I do and you’ve seen my profile…” And to that she said, “Yeah, okay.” Another hesitant pause. “This is a friend, a mother of 3 and a grandmother of 2 speaking, not your supervisor,” she finally said. “I just want you to know that, not matter what, my loyalty is with you and, come what may, I don’t want you to get hurt …but I also want you to be happy.” Then she let out a gasp and added, “That was a tough one to put into words.”
I immediately thanked her for saying that, for caring, and said, “You know, though, I’ve never in my life been more certain about something.” To which she said, without a hint of falsehood in her voice, “Good for you!”
Now let me be blunt. Whether it’s about the planned move to Montreal or El Poema, I still feel some trepidation and concern once in a while. However, what’s been most outstanding in my mind is not just the support all my friends have given me on both fronts, but the genuine sincerity with which that support has been given to me. And now add to that having everything out in the open with the peers that matter at work, and I can’t help but feel blessed.
But. There’s always a but, isn’t there!
As expected, El Poema was happy to hear the news. But he didn’t react to it immediately. Rationally I knew he’s had a lot on his plate in the last few days. And I started remembering another long-distance situation I was in some 12 years ago, where, in the end, I did get scared away because I felt stiffled by all the attention. That said, it’s not fair to compare the two for a bunch of reasons I won’t get into here. But as a corollary to that initial thought, I began to wonder if he was choosing to cool off the intensity a few notches just so that he/we can reach the other side of our 87 days of waiting with our sanity relatively intact.
The Skype phone rang around noon as I was reading blogs. As before, the instant I saw his face on the screen and we began to talk, I felt like a kid at Christmas. But eventually again today, we talked frankly about Canada and Mexico. It’s. So. Fucking. Hard. It’s hard for me to hear about another couple — one Canadian, one Mexican — and, you know, he left his super dooper job in Canada and came to live in Mexico. Not so implicit is the “you’d never do that, would you.”
The thing is, I can’t lie. I’m a lousy liar. So the truth I spoke was, “Like today, or next week, or the end of the year? No. I wouldn’t. But I am not saying NEVER.”
But even after making that point clear (or perhaps because?), I still felt overwhelmingly sad. The one person I would most want to love Canada still has, understandably, a very bad taste in his mouth about this country. And I still have 87 days to wait for a short 10-day stint to get a general impression about his.
Re-enter the day job. Never mind my lack of Spanish at this point; I can always work on that. The day job has become a means for me. I do my job well, but despite what some might say, I’m not wed to it. I’m using it. But, there’s more that I simply can’t ignore: I have the good fortune of a corporate job where my colleagues are openly accepting and accommodating. Right now, with my lack of language skills and credentials, I have to remain here. The alternative would be a 180-degree reversal that would only change the locale (and, frankly, be even more precarious), and thus would be an even greater strain on a fledgling relationship. It would take a very long time (if ever) before I could work in a third language I don’t know yet.
The killer is that neither wants to hurt the other. And each believes that this relationship must be given a chance. In fact, more than that: we both know the mere idea of giving up would tear us into shreds. That said, I still refuse to look too far ahead for reasons that are obvious to me. But at the same time, I do harbour ideas that I think could lead to where we want to go in the broader sense of the word…
Except …what if those ideas are not mutually acceptable? What then?
Not Too Bright
I have to admit that, these days, more than usual, my fuse is a bit short. Specifically, I’m impatient. I’m impatient in long lineups; I’m impatient in traffic; I’m impatient for the show I’m watching to resume after what seems like an endless string of commercials on all channels.
Thursday morning was my bi-weekly “Millie Morning” — the morning when Ms. Millie rescues me from domestic doom. However, I usually make a point of washing the dishes before she arrives so that she can “get right at it.” This Thursday was no different. I also had to run an errand before starting work, so off I drove to the nearby Sobeys grocery store.
Almost back home, though, there was a multiple-light wait at the corner in front of my building. Traffic was backed up so that only one car could cross the intersection at each green light, and there was five or six cars in front of me. Just as I arrived at the end of the lineup, one car crossed the yellow median line on the amber light and turned left. “Not a bad idea,” I thought to myself, as there was no on-coming traffic, and what’s the point of sitting in “pseudo traffic” for ten minutes to turn left only a few feet away while directly in front of my own building.
Therefore, when I had my chance at the next light, I took it. But what I didn’t do is check my rear view mirror for what other traffic had since accumulated behind me. In other words, I didn’t see the cop on the motorbike.
So, of course, he pulled me over. And, of course, in so doing, he noticed that my motor vehicle inspection was overdue. But all I could think of at that point is that I had only a few minutes before an appointment and I had to get home fast.
I’ll give the cop credit, though. He had me for two violations, and he only charged me for the lesser of the two. A $160 fine is no fun, but it’s better than $460 if he’d dinged me for both. I think he recognized that I was just a little frazzled that morning and not inherently a public menace.
Peanut gallery: please shut up! 🙂