I wouldn't go back, but it hirts to move forward. I think back to that time. There wasn't any harm meant There was nothing but hope, there was longing. It felt like a page had turned. Life seemed exciting with my future boyfriend, future husband, soon-to-be-ex husband. I look at things now and wonder how we erred against those younger versions of ourselves. We only wanted what was best, for the future and certainly for ourselves .
The first night we met he walked me home. He was a cyclist, I was a walker. I lived down Broadway, west of the city. He lived east, near Burnaby. We'd met at a cafe on the Drive and it was a 5 kilometre walk to my apartment. He pushed his bike as he walked alongside me and his bike lock, fastened through the strap of his messenger bag, banged against his back. Thud, thud, thud. Small impacts that over the course of the walk created enough rub to cause a wound on his lower back that he only noticed later. An ugly contusion with a rubbed-raw, red open spot. I'm not sure if he felt it or noticed it as it was happening. It was so gradual. He pointed out the time capsule in the shape of a rocketship by the new Cambie street Skytrain station. We both liked about each other that we could walk and walk, without complaining. I am exhausted now thinking back to that day. The hope that would build, the happiness would come. The plans and the efforts. I wonder what we did wrong. I know I did wrong, somewhere. I go over everything, grief in my throat as I recall good times and bad. The slanted sunlight of that autumn, the sunny Christmas that came, the bikes and clutter, the way I'd see him Fridays when we both were off, how the weekend automatically became important, and I'd look forward to his face all week.
I never went on a holiday before. I never really knew what it was like to feel warm in the winter. It was so hot, in fact, it was hard to wear a full outfit. Just a dress and slip-on shoes. I couldn't imagine living life as the people who lived here live life: getting up, going to work, shadeless streets by 8 in the morning. Another thing I experienced was a chronic headache, just in the crease of brow above my eyes. From squinting, even with sunglasses on. The glare was always there, as we were right in the middle of the rainy season. The grassfires as people burned off the bracken and weeds on their land made my throat tickle, and the alcohol was nothing cleansing to speak of. It was of a weak percentage, but tasted horrible besides, like gasoline with Splenda in it. I was in conflict as all my life I had dreamed of a tropical holiday, but it turned out to be days spent in a hot country where people laboured and lived under a sun so high it cast no shadows.
The little weeds and unidentifiable lacy things that curl from the ground are the rivals. The plants you put in with your own hands, the things you paid for, are the ones you want to win. You want the tomatoes to grow, you want your flowers to not just bloom but take over. If you had your way the horizon would be blotted out with tall spikes of snap dragons and delphiniums, curlicues of sweet peas, beans, and sugar peas, and for witchy luck the nodding heads of foxglove. You would have your own secret garden of things good to look at, good to smell, and good to eat. But the rivals have something going for them - the universe favors them. Their root systems are superior, their vines muscle in, they flourish without regard to their own usefulness. They thrive on acidity, on drought. You almost feel bad as you weed them away, like you are a eugenicist. You are yourself the equivalent of a bindweed or a dandelion. But the obsession to groom the ground is strong. You love to tear out the garbage plants, knowing they are taking nutrients from the ones that can give something back to you.