Tonight Marc and I watched two episodes of the British television series Happy Valley.
Let me tell you, that is one grossly misleading title.
The show is excellent, but grim as shite (in the parlance of all the characters.)
I wanted to watch a third episode, but Marc told me he couldn’t handle any more for the night, and opted instead to play some Dark Souls.
(This should deftly illustrate just how brutal and bleak the series can be, in so far as he would nominate this maddeningly difficult video game to be an appropriate palette cleanser. Good grief.)
Meanwhile, I am laughing because he keeps inadvertently poisoning his allies with a pair of enchanted, and very deadly pantaloons.
I feel like we’re all bonkers around these here parts.
The weather here in Vancouver has been so starkly beautiful of late.
My favourites are the afternoons when everything seems to be aglow in a soft, rose gold. As the sun hangs heavy in the blush toned sky, you could swear that you can feel your blood run a little warmer, even as your shadow grows a little longer.
I could easily hack a winter made purely of this magic.
Five years ago we were living in Birmingham England.
Our days were a brilliant pick-and-mix of graduate courses, teaching at a community school, running around the Edgbaston Reservoir, exploring the city, and heading out on cross-country adventures.
One of my most vivid memories of this time, is the amount of time we spent walking in the cold autumn air – both together and apart.
We didn’t have a car while we were there, for many reasons of course, but funds and fear of driving on the opposite side of the road were the two that topped the list.
(I cannot tell you the number of times I was almost smoked by a vehicle because I looked the wrong way before stepping into the street, nor the number of times I could have been destroyed in a round-a-bout whilst riding my bicycle. A quick study on the English rules of the road, I was not.)
However, being without a ride (my garbage ten pound bike notwithstanding) was never an issue.
We loved careening about the city – both on foot and riding public transit.
The first time we were waiting at the bus stop, we didn’t know that you needed to actually flag down the bus (you stick your arm out as it approaches to indicate that you want it to pull over), so each one just kept driving on by.
“Why won’t they pull over!?” I exclaimed as I watched the fifth red double decker zoom on past.
“You don’t have your hand out,” remarked a kindly older woman who happened to be walking by. “You have to put your hand out, love. Or else they won’t know that you want to board.”
I thanked her (and felt my heart grow three sizes – an event that I would come to expect every time someone addressed me as “love” during my time in Brum.)
Strangely, I think some of my most cherished memories of our time spent in the city, are the mornings in which Marc and I would commute together to our teaching jobs.
Classes began at eight thirty in the morning and it was about a forty-five minute commute from our flat in Edgbaston to the school in Alum Rock.
We would wake up around seven, and together we would greet the day.
Never saying much whilst we got ready, we were like two silent dancers, each lost in our own little routine, before locking up and walking to the bus stop.
The mornings were always so cold, and I relished the chance to walk arm in arm together, as well as bundle myself up in Marc’s embrace as we waited at the stop.
Sometimes we would read the free magazines that were handed out at the Broad Street interchange, but mostly we would talk quietly about our lesson plans or make each other laugh with stories from the previous day’s classes.
For breakfast I could buy a three pack of egg tarts from Greggs. For one pound you couldn’t get anything more delicious (and most likely, anything as remarkably unhealthy.)
From the stop in Alum Rock we would walk up to the road to the school, betting on which of our students would be waiting at the main entrance for us to arrive and unlock the doors.
Once inside, they would make tea and try convince us to let them play one game of billiards before settling down to their first lesson.
Our decision normally rested on how much sugar had been put in our tea.
In the afternoons, I would bus to the university for either my classes, or to do research for my thesis, while Marc worked on overhauling the school’s curriculum and marking systems.
In the evening, we would meet back at the flat and then go for a walk.
Marvelling at the multi-coloured trees rapidly losing their leaves, we’d spy each spindly bare branch waving self-consciously in the wind.
Whether to Bearwood, or to the city center, or to the Garden House (our neighbourhood pub) – we’d stride along together.
Our blood a little warmer.
Shadows a little longer.