It’s done. The love affair is over. So much happened here - so much good and so much bad. Transformational, eternal and gut-wrenching, I came to you all fucked up, without a place to go, with few possessions that went through three moves in a year. Beaten up and beaten down. You were beautiful. You are beautiful. Expansive and light, you breathed into me and I inhaled deep.
I really felt like I knew you already. You ragged façade was gentle and familiar, the 100 year old oak floors warm and slick. Walking through your door, I was home in an instant.
I remember the day all six of us, neighbours, lovers and friends were out on your porch, looking at the ocean, the city, the sky stretched out before us. We pondered in a stoned daze that this was it. This is where we would spend the rest of our days, leaving to explore the world but always returning to you.
So when he left, four months after he signed a lease saying he’d be with you, (with me?) for at least a year, I couldn’t sleep in our bedroom. No, I dragged the mattress out to the massive living space standing nearly empty, and that whole summer, that whole fall I woke up with the sun shining through the painted-shut bay window, refracting in crooked rainbows off the warped glass. The rays warmed my bare skin like a hug.
You cradled me through gaping sorrow. I found solace in your clawfoot tub with a glass of cheap wine, Svefn-G-Englar on loop and a mess of beeswax candles balanced precariously on the tiny window sill of one of the few of your windows that opened. I burned thousands of cigarettes to the butt discussing everything and anything on that creaky patio, lit by a bright moon and a weak kitchen light.
You survived some odd roommates who in their own separate ways massively undervalued what you had to offer. Complaints made over malfunctioning door knobs and the crumbling drywall fell on my incredulous ears and although I wanted to scream “YOU ARE LIVING IN A PIECE OF HISTORY, NO THERE IS NO STRATA COUNCIL”, I feigned sympathy and forwarded curt notes to the landlord.
I loved you still when the weather shifted into unrelenting rain and the newspaper stuffed between your exterior and interior walls proved to be a poor insulation method. As I cuddled up at night to an electric heating pad in an army-issued wool sweater - another relic of an unfortunate romantic match - the wind whistling through the gaps of all those windows that didn’t open sang lullabies of peace.
Hundreds of feet shuffled past your threshold making movies, TV shows. Scoping, checking, measuring, photographing, darting around, analyzing. Overworked production assistants dragged themselves up and down the bannister-less staircase, art directors gasped at your original crown moulding and light switches. Big name actors read their pages. Production crews left treasures such as a vintage suitcase or a plant holder for me to adorn you with.
With the summer here again I flung open everything and let sunshine creep into your darkest crevices - penetrating your depth, mine, with rays of hope and excitement. With no roommate for a few months, you and I had unrelenting fun, uninterrupted by anyone else’s concerns. Your walls echoed laughter and music for weeks. The patio creaked under the weight of hooting strangers, and you stood tall and solid.
When the fall got into its swing doubts crept in, and as the neighbours fled, I knew our time was coming to an end. I did all I could to keep you, old gorgeous beauty, but if there’s anything I learned from my time with you it’s that some relationships must end.
And so I leave you - earlier than I wanted to, but knowing that I must. You are the setting of much personal growth, so many lessons learned about gratitude, strength, vulnerability, forgiveness . Your firm stature was the only solid thing I had many times in those two years, and for that, I am grateful. Time changes many things, all things really, and time with you changed me. I hope when I’m back, 20, 30 years from now, you are still holding strong - proud, flawed and unbreakable.
On the water
Inspired by Portland Art Museum. This painting is by Jules Olitski, American artist.
I took the train to Portland last week. I loved travelling by train, food and comfortable seats, easily accessible bathrooms. Time to have deep conversations, watch the scenery, think.
Saw these two on the Capilano River today. So sweet to see them enjoying the day together.
I miss Happydog today. It's been almost a year since he died. I hate saying put him down, but that's what we did. He was 15 and blind and in pain from arthritis. I wonder if we could have waited. But he wouldn't have gotten better, only in more pain.
In the mists…