The Dance by ahmad ali on Flickr
It’s a cloudy September morning, the kind of morning we always get here: threatening rain but never delivering its promises. The car is small but I feel far away already, the middle console shadowing the mountains I am about to cross.
It’s early; the drive is short. Not a lot of traffic going north at this time of the day. But my heart feels like those fully-loaded trucks going south from the ferry: heavy, reluctant, just like my suitcases filled to the brim with everything I could fit in them. My entire life. Except for you.
It was something we’d known might happen since we met, something we knew would happen since February. We’d danced a delicate tango around it for all these months, our words tangling over and under each other, pushing the thought away only to have it pull us back into a desperate abrazo.
But the music has stopped, and we have to face reality: I am leaving.
It’s Saturday night, an unusually cold one for Victoria, even in February. It has snowed all week. Luckily, I brought my winter gear from Edmonton; boots and down coat wait on the couch while you get ready for the party.
I have just spent spring break with you, ten days of cooking and ironing and reading among your things, your smell, your rules. But something was off. You were sullen, distant, upset. My emotions have been building up all week, swelling the lake until the dam finally breaks.
I’m clutching my knees, trying to make myself as small as possible. I don’t want to bother you with my crying, but I’m crying anyway. My makeup is going to be ruined, and everyone will know.
You come out of the bathroom, concerned. You ask what’s wrong, and I need to gather all my strength to stop sobbing. Incoherent words about touching and distance tumble out. Your sad eyes tell me all I need to know: “I’m sorry for what I’m about to tell you.”
That night, I try to sleep, alone, on the old saggy couch that came with your apartment.
The day I leave Edmonton reminds me of that September morning almost a year ago, but it’s July now. The grey clouds threaten the rain that’s badly needed after days of uninterrupted Prairie sunshine. The rain starts during the drive to the airport. But it’s not Victoria I’m headed to; rather, my purgatory for the next eight months: Vancouver.
When I land, Vancouver is just as grey, but much more humid. The dampness falls on me like a favourite comforter, tucking my hope in. These kinds of days you never know if it will rain or not; the weather is so impredictable here.
You’re not here, but only water separates us now, instead of water and moutains and a provincial border. “Only a quick ferry ride”, I think. I don’t know if this will work or not, but I have to try. I left my PhD to make it work. It has to.
The treacherous March weather is hanging over my moving day, but it seems to be clearing up now. It takes about an hour to fill the rental truck with my stuff. Mostly boxes, a desk, a dresser, a bookcase and a chair, suitcases as heavy as they were that day in September. The console between us is wider, too. And yet my heart is lighter now, fluttering about like the playful dolphins I’ve seen on the ferry crossing once or twice. I’m with you now, and it’s all that matters.
The sun welcomes us on the island, as if to say “this is where you belong; let me light your way back.”