Day and Night

Once upon a time, there lived a poor farming family. They lived in a small, isolated hamlet, but their land fell within the boundaries of a large, and very rich duchy.

Rarely did the meet anyone through the passing of days.

The wife bore a set of twins – a boy and a girl. The boy, blue-eyed and fair haired, stood stark contrast to his sister, a girl of olive skin and hair as black as a raven’s wings.

They came together into the world, one right after the other. He first, and she behind him, clutching his ankle tightly in her newborn fist.

They named him Day, and her Night.

Each year following, the two were inseparable. Time spent roaming the vast expanse of the farm and the nearby forest was filled with laughter and mirth.

But when the sun settled, and a deep darkness spread over the land, Night would bid her brother goodbye and climb out of their bedroom window, into the black.

Every time she’d leave, she’d remind him to keep the window open and unlocked, so that she may return.

Every night, Day would watch her slink out beyond the frame, ensure the latch remained open, and then crawl back into his bed.

He would wake to the sound of a soft tap at the glass and he would get up and open the window, helping her back into the room.

One day, the two were out in the orchard picking apples, when they heard the heavy hooves of a fast approaching horse.

Night ran out from the shade of tree, eager to greet the riders, while Day scrambled to keep up.

It was the Duke, riding one of his hunting steeds, with a party of other noblemen.

Startled by the small child, his horse reared, striking Night in the head.

“Peasants!” shouted the Duke. The party did not stop and continued on its way.

Day ran to his sister, who lay still and pale on the ground. A small trickle of blood ran from her temple to her eye; she looked just as though she was asleep.

He and her parents buried her the following afternoon.

That night, as Day struggled to fall asleep, he heard a soft taping at the window.

“I’m hearing things,” he thought, and ignored the sound until he fell asleep.

The next night he again heard the noise, only this time it was louder. Still convinced he was making it up, he put his pillow over his head and tried again to fall asleep. Eventually, he fell into a restless slumber.

On the third night the sound was no longer a tap, but an urgent knock.

Day could no longer pretend it was inside of his head.

He slowly got out of bed and walked towards the window. The pane rattled slightly with each rap.

He reached out and undid the latch. The window swung open, and the cool night air rushed into the bedroom.

A darkness, and nothing else.

Day paused a moment, before making his way back to his bed.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

As he did, he felt a small hand wrap its fingers around his ankle.

And in the morning, when his parents came to wake him, he was gone.

Oh, the Terror!

Some things:

I recently read an article about the many misunderstandings and misconceptions we – the collective, social “we” – have about singlehood. The author, a single woman, wrote about the many (often invisible) financial and emotional costs associated with being partnerless. She also argued against the often proscribed narrative that one needs to “fix” oneself – while single – in order to attract a mate. According to her, the “love yourself in order to love another” thesis is just a fancier way of saying that humans considered “broken” are unworthy of love. And when we say that someone has found love, we’re actually just saying that, per society’s adjudications, that they have been “fixed”.

This seems universally awful and I was struck my two ideas presented in the piece. The first, that as human beings, we have defined our natural, default status as “partnered” and use modifiers like stable, healthy, and loved (including love of self) to build out this concept.

Now, I have spent half of my life in three relationships and have not been single since December of grade eleven. So while I don’t know what it’s like to be thirty and living without a partner, I do know what it’s like to be thirty and living with a sense of brokenness. I know what it’s like to live a life defined by instability, sickness, and self-hatred and know that this had absolutely nothing to do with my relationship status.

Being in a relationship – as long as it is loving and constructive – can certainly help in times of crisis, but it will never prevent horrible or hard things from happening. And someone struggling, or simply living a nuanced life, isn’t any less attractive because of these things. They certainly aren’t “broken.” I know, because I have been, and continue to sometimes be, this person.

If society cannot recognize this, cannot see that life is an endless obstacle race that allows for the greatest of victories and most horrifying defeats, then this is the thing that requires “fixing.” And all those who refused to acknowledge this truth? They are the ones who will have a hell of a time sustaining a relationship – with themselves or otherwise.

The author also wrote about how being single for her, meant living a life defined by a prolonged absence of touch and she explained how long periods of time without contact – intimate or otherwise – can have a profound effect on an individual’s sense of self.

I have been thinking about this a lot since moving to Halifax because I often think about how much I miss touching Marc.

I wish I could feel his body beside mine in the cool silence of an early morning.  I miss holding his hand while walking down the street and the feeling of his fingers running through my hair when we’re driving in the car late at night.

I miss the solid comfort of his hand on the small of my back when guides me out of the way when we’re cooking together in the kitchen.

There are so many ways in which he and I make contact in our regular day to day; I’ve never before realized how important these little touch points are to me.

Some other things:

As previously mentioned, I have been reading a lot about Franklin and the Northwest Passage, especially in the wake of the discovery of the HMS Terror.

And I think I’ve become obsessed with scurvy.

Obsessed in the way that people become fascinated by serial killers, or the crusades, or other infinitely terrible things, and yet, I cannot help myself. The way the Dan Simmons describes this disease in his book is so unbelievably horrifying that it borders on the intoxicating. I cannot think of a more horrible way to die than to slowly and painfully waste away in the sub-arctic temperatures of the Canadian north, coated in my own frozen blood and sweat, my skin puffed and bloated, like putrefied pizza dough, punctuated and pixelated by my hemorrhaging bruises and festering boils.

How utterly, utterly wretched.

Scurvy has become a bit of a joke in our modern parlance. I used to say that in the absence of any fresh fruit in my life, coupled with the amount of penny candy I ate, that I wouldn’t make it to twenty without contracting the disease.

Now that I know that scurvy is so much more than just a few loose teeth, I am loathe to speak in such jest ever again.

Some last things:

I haven’t worn pants in the past six weeks. It’s been so beautiful and hot here in Halifax that my wardrobe has consisted solely of sundresses and skirts. On the odd night that the mercury has dipped below twenty degrees Celsius, I have conceded to nothing more than a pair of patterned leggings.

I have been practicing piano for minimum on hour every day. I am relearning all of my old royal conservatory grade 8 pieces. It really is extraordinary what your fingers and brain can remember, seventeen years out. My goal is to have three pieces memorized by the time that I leave. I also really need to work on my scales, because goodness knows when you’re not working on those every day your finger work grows shoddy indeed.

I am going to move to Shetland. Become a sheep farmer. And be happy.

Oh the horror!

Hello you fab chaps!

Did any of you get up to anything for Halloween this weekend?

Now, I know that All Hallows Eve isn’t actually happening until this Thursday, but common practice dictates that if this spooky night falls on any day other than Friday or Saturday, you celebrate on the Saturday before.

So in this vein, Marc and I, along with our terrific friends, got together on the 26th, donned our best fancy dress, and traipsed around New Westminster all night long.

It was a hilarious time and I finally, FINALLY, wore a different costume other than the one I’ve been sporting for the past eight years.

I tell ya, I really have got the market on 1920’s golfer cornered.

Cornered but good.

Marc, on the other hand, is an absolute costume maverick and has been putting together awesome showings since the first Halloween we spent together.

This year, he decided that he would dress as Chtulhu (that terrifying Lovelockian beast) and he sewed the majority of his costume from a child’s centipede costume.

WHAT A BOSS.

Check it out:

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Now, I thought long and hard about what I would do for my costume.

A tiny little part of me always thinks that I should take advantage of (in the immortal words of Tina Fey) “a girl’s one night a year when she’s allowed to dress as slutty as she wants and no one can say anything about it.”

But this is never, ever going to happen, so I instead, I gravitate away from sexy and towards TERRIFYING.

Which is why I decided to dress like this:

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And then proceeded to do this:

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ACK.

Even just looking at these photos gives me the willies.

Have you all watched The Ring?

This movie scared me so badly that I had to sleep with my mum the night that I watched it in the theatre.

And I was seventeen years old!

For the entirety of Saturday night I couldn’t even look at myself in the bathroom mirror, for fear of my own reflection.

Also, I’ve learned that nothing beats running about in a dirty, ripped nighty on one of the coldest nights of the year.

Aaaannnddd…I’m not even sure if that is sarcasm or not.

But seriously, I had to wrap myself in a wool blanket each time we ventured outside.

Thank goodness I didn’t decide to go for full authenticity and forgo shoes for the evening.

THANK GOODNESS.

But Marc and I weren’t the only ones who put some sweet effort into our costumes – the rest of our group looked epically fantastic.

We had our Top Gear hunks:

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And Sean and Ed from Sean of the Dead:

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We spent the evening bar hoping around town, drinking sangria, and marvelling at all the other costumed fools and ghouls skulking about the night.

Highlights included a group rendition of The Monster Mash, a lindy-hop jam session between myself and Sean at the Heritage Grill, a late-night showing of Slither, and all the mini-chocolate bars you could possibly imagine.

This morning we all reconvened and enjoyed a late-afternoon lunch down at the Quay, marvelling at the amazing late-October sunshine in all of its glory.

We truly are incredibly lucky to live in such an amazing beautiful place.

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And having the chance to run about together in costume isn’t anything to sniff about either.

(Although if you’re doing it in a nighty, I’d definitely recommend brining some tissues.)