Of late, a lot of people ask me how I am.
I mostly tell them that I am okay.
Because I am okay. I am a lot of things, but mostly I am okay.
My life in Halifax is pretty simple: I run around the city, I work at my desk. I go for nightly walks up to the Citadel where I take photos of the city’s breathtaking cloudscape.
The sky is big here. There are no mountains.
When I walk, I listen to Grimes and Of Monsters and Men. I also really like the soundtrack to the movie Drive.
At home, my bedside is littered with biographies of runners. I have reread Hemmingway’s A Moveable Feast twice.
The more time I spend at the Dickson Centre, the more I tune out its tired yellow walls.
I don’t think I could ever be a nurse.
I make vegetarian frittatas with Annapolis Valley vegetables and aged cheddar cheese. I eat a lot of chocolate peanut butter oatcakes.
My mother likes to tell me that oatcakes are healthy.
I don’t think anything with the word ‘cake’ in it can be good for you. But they are delicious.
I ride my bike around the city: to the gym, to the library, to Point Pleasant Park. To the famers market at the Halifax forum.
I sometimes feel lonely. I have to choke back tears. I’m never ready for them, and I always get very angry with myself when I cry.
I chastise my healthy, human self for being silly and immature.
It just makes me feel dumb.
I’ve learn words that I never knew before, like neuropathy and gabapentin.
I think a lot about nerve pain and restless nights. Aching legs. A fatigue that settles like an east coast winter fog.
I do everything I can to sustain summer’s warmth.
When we were in Europe, I borrowed a lot of my mother’s clothing. Living here, I have swallowed her wardrobe whole.
There are some items I can’t make work, no matter how hard I try.
And I try pretty hard.
On Monday, we went to Sears to buy new slippers and a bathmat. Afterwards, I made her try on these pants. They looked really good.
She didn’t buy them. They were overpriced.
Ten years ago, my mum was visiting me in Vancouver. I took her shopping on Robson Street. Her favourite store was Mexx, and that afternoon she left with a pair of wide-legged, grey tweed trousers with built-in suspenders. They made her look like a Pulitzer prize reporter, circa 1940. All she needed was a small cap with the word PRESS imprinted on a piece of paper, folded into the brim.
They were perfect.
Whenever I think of my mum at her most epic, I think of her, on that April afternoon, standing outside of her change room.
She looks at me. She squints her eyes.
“Vanessa,” she says. “I really don’t think so.”
To which, I say: “I do mum.”
“I really, really do.”