Some nights

September 30, 2007

are needed and perfect. A conversation that moves comfortably between the earnest and the banal, a compelling new piano-heavy album, a smoky bottle of red, an email that makes me smile just by being there. It’s quiet outside. I exhale and I stretch and I look down the expansive wooden table to the candle sputtering out and while things don’t simply fall away, not yet, these sporadic solitary nights aren’t nearly as haunted, or as hard. Nighttime has always been when cached doubts sidle out, yet sleep comes more easily lately. It’s even quiet inside.

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Fall

September 28, 2007

The neighbourhood kids play road hockey instead of basketball. I need a sweater on my balcony around 7pm. Leaves start to crunch underfoot when I cut across the park. The squirrels are out en masse, foraging and frantically hiding their finds. Some of my windows get closed at night. Entire sidewalks crane their necks at the sound of geese, and watch their wobbly formations cut across the sky.
Fall, not spring, has always smacked of beginnings to me. School is in session, winter is within reach (go ahead, roll your eyes. I love winter), and I prefer the imagery of shedding to that of blooming – laying bare, bracing, curling in, relishing warmth in ways that can only be borne of sharp contrast. It’s less a discovery than it is a reminder of what lies underneath. Fall is creeping up more slowly this year – summer has been lingering and I have to forcibly shake off the sun-induced sloth. More nights on terrasses and back balconies, more warm breezes to rouse me mid-afternoon, more languid walks home from school. There’s something to be said for this unhurried approach; winter comes regardless, and when you think of nothing but an inevitable outcome you can race right past the season’s charm.
I now have the time, the means, and a foxy new leather jacket. And, yes, a childlike tendency to shuffle my feet through the growing piles of fallen leaves, grinning all the while and not caring who notices.

Allayed

September 20, 2007

So in theory money can’t buy happiness, but it can pay off the steepest of the towering bills and in that respect it buys a sense of relief.  My paycheque finally arriving was one in a sequence of inevitable yet unpredictable events of the week.  The rest were conversations: some the result of the smallness of social circles, some without clear conclusions, some with things that could have been said before. Vila tells me that things are going on in the cosmos – planets are moving around in meaningful ways (her explanations of these dynamics is much more cogent), yet there’s no real consensus about what this entails other than profound shifts. No kidding. I’m not sure where these shifts are going, but since the bureaucratic cogs finally unclogged, and I left those conversations if not happy then at least hopeful, this indeterminacy could conceivably veer my way.

Je me souviens

September 11, 2007

I spent my first year in Montreal bouncing between Vieille Europe, Copacabana, the Miami, and Parc Lafontaine I played countless hours of pool with two old friends who had made their way here, and a guy with a phenomenal handlebar moustache who I later discovered was a coke dealer (one of many roads not taken). Ryan Larkin often weighed in on the essays I was marking. It was a rough year – the love of my life was six hours away, I was in a new city with a largely staid and uptight cast of colleagues, and I leant heavily on one of my dearest girlfriends. Generally miserable, I whiled away the hours between my weekend travels with beer and pool.
Tonight, years later, the scene played itself out again. And I realized that I’ve made real histories here. Handlebar Moustache remembers me, I still can’t consistently make bank shots, my girlfriend and I talk like we haven’t been separated by years and time zones. I have memories that can be re-enacted. That is both beautiful and profoundly sad. Watching her grin at me as she sinks the eight ball, I side with it being beautiful. We should all be so lucky.

The last few bits of the last long weekend are ebbing. Tomorrow the fall semester officially starts, which actually means very little – this is the first September in six years that I won’t be teaching. Both of my parents (teachers as well) retired in June; we’re trying to revel but there’s an undertone of trepidation. How do we fill time now? My answer seems so simple – write the diss (it’s not my diss now, but the diss; a crucial distinction, as lately it’s been writing me). But first, snippets of how I spent my summer vacation:
Socializing: Added up, more than a month was spent entertaining visitors. The last (not counting one arriving this week) left yesterday. Having my space back is both appreciated and a little lonely (I might even miss the cat). Such serial visits make one observation unavoidable: my friends are fabulous.
Travelling: Retirement parties, a shower, a wedding, a funeral. Flurries of activity and stockpiley trips to the LCBO.
Biking: Useful and economical – 12:30 is too early to call anything quits, and cabs are financially unfeasible for someone of my proclivities, (un)employment status, and geographical location. I tried so hard to enjoy biking everywhere. But I just don’t. I’m a pedestrian.
Writing: I wrote a decent draft of about a third of the diss. Not as much as I’d have liked, but summers here are notoriously unproductive. I blame Montreal.
Fucking: I slept around a bit. It was fun. And easy (which isn’t the same as uncomplicated, but what’s summer without a little light drama?). I like how thank-you emails are becoming de rigueur.
Running: I hit the 10k mark mid-June, and have been doing that three times a week ever since. I’m toying with the idea of training for a half-marathon, but could just be looking for an opportunity to toss around the word ‘fartlek.’
Preening: I officially if grudgingly accepted that I look good in hot pink.
Listening: Boxer by The National. Writer’s Block by Peter, Bjorn and John. The Reminder by Feist.
My parents will be gleefully sleeping in tomorrow morning. I’ll be up, futzing with the coffeemaker and wondering how to organize my non-semester. I’m not comfortable with unstructured time. Summer is always a needed reprieve, but after four months I’m antsy again. Sans students until January, I’m compiling a list of fall distractions, er, plans. My tentative triangulation: the St. Henri pool, a diner with free refills, and Allez-Up.