when i was eight, nine, ten years old i had terrible nightmares that you would die in various train accidents. there were no trains in our quiet village; the trains ran below, in dundas, along the sculpted ridge of the niagara escarpment.
and now you actually are dead.
how can that be true.
my best childhood friend died on christmas day. he was a boy, but he was my best friend. my family went to the visitation back home, but i couldn’t be there. i loved him deeply, very strangely, and first. sometimes i even thought that when we grew up, when we were older, in high school maybe, we’d date. i remember a time when he was the most important person in my world. by high school we’d drifted apart of course, and barely spoke.
still. his death has broken me in a way i can’t describe to my family, or friends, or boyfriend, or anyone. only he would know the things we shared as kids that we promised would stay important forever. the things that didn’t.
i miss his existence.
that’s really the most i can say.
when i was a little girl he played a song on a record player and the song made me cry so he’d stop the record and i’d beg him, i’d beg him to put it back on and it was “only if you don’t cry” and i’d promise and he’d play it and i’d cry and cry and then he’d let it play and then i’d beg to hear it one more time and then we didn’t go back one day and it has made me cry every time since then, and now when she sings it i am hardened and cold.
it makes me want to travel through time
while sitting on the rooftop
of my dad’s apartment,
across the shingles
and the aluminum and
the all-seeing church and doomsday
towers, or wear 1920s wedding dresses,
or be in the upstairs nook of the waterdown
library at age 11,
looking at pictures
of my grandfather in the history books.
i think that speaks for itself.
this is always my favourite way to start the cold, wintery holiday season.
sit beside the breakfast table, think about your troubles, pour yourself a cup of tea and think about the bubbles.
you can take your teardrops and drop them in a teacup, take them down to the riverside and throw them over the side
to be swept up by a current then taken to the ocean to be eaten by some fishes who were eaten by some fishes and swallowed by a whale who grew so old he decomposed.
he died and left his body to the bottom of the ocean, now everybody knows that when a body decomposes the basic elements are given back to the ocean and the sea does what it oughtta and soon there’s salty water, not too good for drinking cause it tastes just like a teardrop.
so they run it through a filter and it comes out from a faucet, and pours into a teapot which is just about to bubble.
think about your troubles.
five and six way back in the day
one of the agents in my office has a daughter who recently bought a home in waterdown, ontario, a few kilometers away from where my mom lives. actually, i more or less grew up in waterdown even though i never actually lived there. my mom was raised there and her father was one of the only two police officers the small village had while she was growing up, and her connections to the town never faded away. her high school was torn down to make room for condos and the fields where she used to lie down and watch fireworks became complex twists of tree-lined, suburban streets.yet she kept our family doctor there, we did our grocery shopping there, we got DQ there and we went to memorial park, without fail, every year to watch the victoria day sky magic.
i’ve lived in something like 15 houses and apartments throughout my life, and none of them have been in waterdown, but for some reason my most vivid childhood memories take me back there. my earliest experiences of teenage rebellion (think: 12, 13, 14) involved that safe little town in the middle of the night. i had to move on to the city for any real teenage fun, but waterdown held its own and was a good staging ground for what would later come to be :)
back in the day there weren’t any cement slab plants or industrial parks in our backyard. there were endless fields and flat miles of tan rock lying alongside the trickle of a creek that branched off from somewhere along the escarpment. there were tunnels under highways, and the roar of 18-wheelers overhead is one of the sounds that resonates in my memory. no one worried that we’d get lost out there, or hurt, or that we’d manage to kill ourselves walking along the highway into town. we just went.
hwy #6 southbound down the cut
i love ottawa, but there’s something to be said for the tangled industrial-countryside web that makes up hamilton. even when you’re out in the middle of nowhere out there, you’re still connected to what that city is. grit lit, doors in the core. people i’ve met in ottawa have told me they’ve driven through hamilton and never wanted to stay. i don’t know about that. there’s something about it. when i was there, i did want to get out. but that’s its charm, i think.
that’s what keeps us there and that’s what brings us back.
i just saw the most amazing thing on… yes… facebook.
and, in order to share my little story i guess i have to admit that i was creeping photos a little bit. but what can i say? they’re posted and tagged so friends can see them, right? and i’m friends. right?
i don’t know.
the photos were of a guy who worked in my office last summer who i guess we can call ned. there were a few group shots of ned and some friends, which i clicked through absent-mindedly, not really paying close enough attention (because i didn’t really care? again, i don’t know). then there was this sequence of adorable photos of him as a kid: in hockey gear on ice, in the grass outside baseball diamonds, in elementary school classrooms. in each picture, ned had his arms draped lazily around the shoulders of his childhood friends, and they all stared wistfully past the camera with half-smiles crinkling their growing-into-gorgeous faces.
they were the photos of a childhood that felt like it would never end. these little kids, in picture after picture, had that BFF vibe, the look of certainty somewhere beneath the surface that promised they’d be friends forever. some of the pictures were even in black-and-white. then i noticed the names tagged at the bottom. same four kids in nearly every picture, sometimes squished into a larger shot of a hockey team, sometimes accompanied by a couple other un-tagged friends. sometimes just two or three of the four showed up in the shot, one friend leaning on the other. i scrolled back to the original group shots of 20-something ned and his 20-something friends. same kids.
i have to say that i was pretty surprised.
i mean… i’ve heard of it. but to actually see it, in real life (on facebook), with proof (tagged photos)… blew my mind. creeping through these pictures confirmed something i’ve always believed in but never known for sure. BFF exists. it’s been hard for me to accept, because my own BFFs have nearly always moved away, or lost touch, or made better friends, or stopped returning my calls, or… whatever. i’m impressed with ned and his friends! and you should be too, unless you still go out for drinks once a week with the kid who lived at the end of your street. in which case i’m impressed with you, too.