I dream in the green of it.
In fact, I never really left the green that my friend brought me into last weekend during the summer sunshine. She told me before that I seemed disconnected–that I’d been so for a while–and, as a matter of course, we walked through High Park, then to a pub and back to her place. A night or so later, I found myself on a shuttle bus from Eglinton back to Finch after meeting Neil Gaiman. And on that ride, tired and somewhat dehydrated, I had time to think.
I had time to think about a lot of things.
There was a time that I took a night bus from College Street all the way to Finch after spending time at Neutral. At the same time, when I passed Eglinton I would look for the Higher Ground store with its old apartments that my friends used to stay at. Years ago I would come to visit there and sometimes I would stay the night after going down to Queen and the Vatikan from Ossington. The irony–that I would finally understand how we always navigated from there to there years later after they were gone–never escaped me.
The associations spread from there like creeping vines of psychogeography ignoring all perceptions of time and space. I remember walking down Spadina: from College Street to Queen with my friend from Germany and later giving her her first Halloween. I recall walking with another friend through Kensington Market to look at old thrift clothes and makeup.
Of course the Lillian H. Smith Library comes into the fore with its statues of fantastic animals: whose doors we sometimes stopped into. That library becomes a nexus: where a friend introduced it to me for the first time and I waited for another person there to see the Merril Collection for the very first time.
When I follow the track down I remember Neutral and the girl with the Cheshire smile who decided she wanted to dance with me. Further on, down the streetcar path in the night to Dufferin and then Brock Ave where I sometimes spent the night and free-cycled things like abandoned doors. Down the very opposite, away from the Lillian H. Smith Library was Broadview where two awesome ladies used to live and sometimes had parties. And then near College and Clinton was the streetcar line to Euclid Avenue.
I recall all the streetcar rides to comics conventions like the Paradise at the Ex or some chain of hotels and all the Starbucks and places I used to find myself in when I wandered. But of all these days and all these evenings what really sticks out at me the most of all was the night bus after a Star Wars game with my friends in Richmond Hill taking me back into the city and my walks on the Danforth and Woodbine where I used to live. And Woodbine. Woodbine. Woodbine …
There were the moots and the munches, the parties and the events and just the times when I allowed myself to wander. I’m not sure when that moment was when I changed from a quester into a castellan, or a wanderer into a hermit. And when I was coming back from meeting Neil and wondering if life would any better after reaching one of the things I looked forward to the most, I finally realized that I was in mourning.
I knew I’d been grieving for a while. In my mind I understood that this was what I had been doing and I even told people I knew that this was the state I was in. But it wasn’t until that night that I began to understand that I’d been grieving for a really long time–for all these things that I thought I lost–and I wasn’t dealing with it.
Of course, that’s not entirely true. I was dwelling in it. I didn’t let go of it. And when I moved back to Thornhill away from the city, all I could do was blame myself and scream quietly why. Why did this have to happen to me? Why couldn’t I keep my perception of freedom? Why does loss exist? Why do I have to be so fucking unhappy?
And I understand something now. That boy who made his ridiculous budgie chants, who went out to his first Conventions, who went to Euclid Avenue, who danced with the girl and her beautiful smile at Neutral, who went to Brock Avenue for the night, who stayed above Higher Ground, who helped a friend find Halloween, who played at the Two-Headed Dragon, who lived and still loves at Woodbine, who went to York University and who wandered around at all times of the day and night downtown in various forms is no longer here. I am no longer that boy or that man. I am not that person–or those people–anymore. It’s all so vital and immediate: before time eats through experiences and turns them into memories. And sometimes it sucks. It sucks so bad and I feel that anger come out at that sense of loss.
But I have to accept that and live accordingly.
I’m … something else now. I’m not new. I still have all of those memories of being all those different variations of people. And I haven’t sorted through it all yet. I don’t think I ever really will. I know I’m not always wise or strong and I tend to repeat the mistakes of the past in different permutations. But I am doing so much now. I feel closer to something: something that I can’t entirely focus on or name. It’s like I am breaking through a barrier partly of my own creation and the other half belonging to the rest of the world. It is a penumbra of pain, loss, regret, rage, guilt, ennui, and rut but also stability and order and “just the way things are.”
And I am tired of feeling like a stagnant, rotting old man with crazy hair. I want to be an active powerful young man with crazy hair instead. I realize I still feel and that it is okay–and more than okay–to have strong feelings: even though and especially because I own them.
I know a lot of this might go over some people’s heads with details that explain little or nothing. But to those of you who know, and you know who you are, even though I’m a changing person I still love you and I will treasure what we had and whatever else we can have again now. I was really very lucky. And I guess I still am.
I guess this is just a really long way of saying that I’m still healing and it is confusing, and uncertain, and sometimes really quite scary. But at the same time, I feel alive and this is my space and my time: or as Gwendolyn MacEwen put it, I’m dreaming “in the green of my time.”
Until another time, my friends and loyal readers.