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.

Speak low if you speak of love

Marc and I started dating the summer after I graduated from high school. For the past seven months we had wooed each other with the great passion unique only to teenagers – the passion that begets the most brilliant, if tragi-comedic memories.

We did our best to keep our new relationship status under wraps for the first few weeks.

This meant that we would stop holding hands if we ran into someone we knew on the street, and kind of tried not to make out in public.

Each time he would sleep over at the apartment I shared with my sister, and emerge, disheveled and blushing from my bedroom, Kate would take me aside and ask the same thing.

“So, like, you guys are dating, right?”

I would stare at the wall two inches above her head and shake my head.

“No Kate. We’re just friends.”

“Suuuuuuure,” she would respond. “Just friends.”

I told Marc that I wanted to be with him the first week of August 2003. I don’t know the date, but I do know it was the night that he cooked me tofu stir fry at his new place. His roommate was away, and he had asked me to come and eat dinner with him.

His wording was something along the lines of: “come over and help me warm my new abode.”

I knew that this was it. I was going to tell him that I wanted to be with him.

I was living in such emotional agony that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else in my life. Everything was imbued and coloured by such a high degree of physical discomfort and extreme angst. I laugh about it now, but at the time I really felt as though I would die if I had to spend one more minute in his company without touching him.

My sophomoric mind couldn’t make sense of what I was experiencing. I didn’t think he was “the one”. Marriage didn’t even cross my mind. But I knew that something was up. There was something about him that was tearing me apart, and it wasn’t just because he had amazing calf muscles and really good taste in books.

This boy had completely turned my life upside down and, as a firmly minted feminist, it wasn’t in my nature to allow myself to feel like this.

But there I was, intellectually, emotionally, and physically hot and bothered, and all I wanted to do was read new books, kiss new lips, and tell new tales.

I wanted to give my heart in exchange for his.

When I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I wanted to kiss him, and kiss him a lot, he responded in the politest, if most Victorian way.

“Oh!” He exclaimed. “Thank you!”

“Thank you?” I asked.

“THANK. YOU.”

Marc, being the paradigm of good manners and grace, made it clear that he felt the same way.

Our official (pre-wedding) anniversary is August 16th. We picked this date, seemingly randomly, but in truth because it was the night that we first parted ways as a freshly pressed couple. We were too raw to understand that two weeks apart wouldn’t kill us, and too feverish to properly see the magic that had already begun to sprout in the corners and cracks of our new love.

We said our goodbyes at a corner intersection, at 1 AM, three blocks away from his basement home.

I choked back tears, unable to properly articulate the mess of emotions careening about my heart. Marc, stoic as hell, told me that he: “would write.”

Again, I laugh now, reliving this memory. We were such beautiful Austenian caricatures: our youth, our sincerity, our unapologetic belief in the truth of our truth. How I hold this moment close, and remember the weight of my walk home. My soul, confused and heartsick.

There have been many times over the course of our thirteen years that Marc and I have spent time apart. Summers when I lived and worked in Halifax, and autumns when he built Olympian sites.

We’ve traveled separately, visited foreign lands; made memories of our own.

On June 28th of this year, we rang in eight years of marriage.

We were nine hours, and 7,500 kilometers apart.

I, in Tallinn, Estonia, and he, in our little home in New Westminster, BC.

I have been thinking so much about my time in that city, and how I immediately fell in love with this exquisite piece of the Baltic world.

That Tallinn is a piece of magic, there is no question. But knowing that I was there on a day so important to my personal narrative – well, I cannot pretend that this did not catalyze my immediate love affair with the city.

As I write this, I stand on the cusp of a three-month absence from Marc. Like that night, so long ago, standing paralyzed on that street corner, I am ruminating on time spent away from each other. Me, on the east coast and he, here on the west.

Only this time I am less confused. Less angsty. Less heartsick and heartbroken.

I am sad, but I am alive. Afire.

We are life. We are love. Simply. That is our truth.

And those calf muscles?

Yep. Still there.

DSC_0153

I really wouldn’t eat that

Today I bought a rice crispy square from the vending machine at my work.

This is not an unusual occurrence. I purchase a lot of things from machines that require loose change because I have a palate that easily forgives bagged or wrapped goods.

I would wager a guess that I eat anywhere between two and four rice crispies a week, and am completely non-discriminatory between those procured from vending machines and those created in our cafeteria’s kitchen.

This lack of discernment is a huge black mark on my character, I know.

Anyways, today at noon I rushed downstairs to buy this snack, and as I hadn’t yet eaten anything, I was feeling particularly ravenous.

I inserted my dollar fifty and greedily eyed the package as it fell into the machine’s retrieval void. As I picked it up, I noticed that the wrapping was a little suspect. There were no rips or punctures, but its rather ramshackle appearance did give me pause: what the hell had happened to this bar during its transportation from the factory to its final destination?

Unfortunately, I didn’t wax long on these thoughts before tearing right into it.

As I sat at my desk and munched away at my “lunch” (like the depraved feral animal that I am), I noticed that there was a strange colour coming out of the second half of the packaging. Upon closer inspection I could see that it was, in fact, a hair.

A long, black hair.

A long, black hair that had wrapped itself around my snack, like some angry, follicly-born anaconda (a real medusa-like foe) that was all too ready to squeeze the life out of me and turn me to stone.

I turned to my colleague and said, “I don’t feel so good about this.”

And she said, “That’s because you definitely shouldn’t.”

My stars.

No doubt I am probably going to contract some kind of tropical fever and all I will have to show for myself is the contents of my work waste paper basket.

Talk about a legacy.

This is not the first time something like this has happened.

When Marc and I were living in England in 2009, we spent a week in Scotland scampering about Edinburgh and St. Andrews. When we weren’t hiking Arthur’s Seat in severe windstorms, or running along the beach Chariots of Fire-style, we were doing the things that most twenty-four year olds do when travelling: drinking too much and staying out too late.

One night, I asked Marc to take me to the Oxford Bar – the drinking establishment frequented by Inspector Rebus, the fictional detective and misanthropic protagonist of Ian Rankin’s best selling novels. You see, we had very limited internet access in our flat back in Birmingham, and in the absence of ever being online, I read about fifty odd Rebus books during the months that I was studying at the city’s university.

Now that we were in his city, it was imperative that I drink at the bar in which he like to drink.

We started out at the Oxford – me with white wine and Marc with a dark, bitter beer. It was there that we decided, being as it was that we were poor as hell students, that our nightly budget was to be spent on alcohol, and alcohol alone.

From there, were began our own Scottish bar crawl, venturing into both the shadiest of underground establishments and the absolute poshest of speakeasys – though we made a point not to linger in the latter.

At one of the bars, we were invited to join a Marks and Spencer’s Christmas party where I was gifted many glasses of wine, and Marc about one million shots of whiskey.

By the time we were sitting in the last bar of the night – a cozy little space right off of the royal mile – I could hardly feel my face. When the waiter came over to take our orders, it was all I could do to croak out: “One glass of water please.”

Marc, steadfast and brazen, ordered a scotch.

I’ll never forget picking up my water, taking a sip, and blurting out, “This water tastes like a shoe.”

It was a quarter to 3am, and it was time for bed.

But the problem being – there was no way in hell that we could return to our hostel in such rough shape. We needed food and we needed it right away.

There was a late-night diner just up the road from where we were staying, and having completely forgotten our plan of “no food, only booze” we both ordered burgers and milkshakes.

I had ordered a veggie patty with melted cheesed and when it came I didn’t even hesitate. I tore into that thing like David Attenborough was narrating my life. What I didn’t expect however, was to pull out a very orange, very plastic looking thing from inside the bun.

Puzzled, I turned to Marc and whispered, “What the hell is that?”

Marc, hammered, and intensely focused on consuming his food, looked me straight into the eyes and replied, “Oh man. Babe. That’s a piece of cheese with the wrapper still on.”

Horrified, but also cognizant of the fact that I was inebriated up the yin yang and insecure that the staff already thought me a belligerent American, I shuffled up to the counter and shyly inquired, “Ummm, excuse me? Is this cheese with the wrapper on?”

The woman stared and me for a long beat before answering in her strong Scottish brogue, “That’s a roasted bell pepper.”

“Oh,” I said. “I see. Thank you. So sorry for the trouble.”

The total embarrassment I felt in that moment precipitated an almost immediate sobering. Marc and I grabbed our milkshakes and beat a speedy exit out of there.

Back in our hostel we laughed ourselves silly before falling into bed. I remember drifting off to sleep thinking if this was the last night of my life, it would be one for the annals.

And now, compared to my imminent rice crispy doom, a much better way to go.

Something to sink my teeth into

Have you ever been in a situation where you know that you should leave well enough alone, but then you just go ahead and make it worse anyway?

I have.

For instance –

Yesterday I was at the dentist for my six month check-up.

I hadn’t had a chance to eat much for lunch that day, so I ate a GIANT cheese bun on my way over to the clinic.

(I knew that I wouldn’t be able to eat for half an hour after my cleaning, and as such I knew that if I didn’t eat I would be absolutely ravenous by the time I got home, and as such, one grumpy, grumpy girl.)

So there I was, chomping away for all of Canada, getting both cheese and bun stuck in my teeth.

Now, I’m not one for showing up to the dentist with food mashed between my molars (I just figure that’s poor form) so I thought it would also be best to stop in at the dollar store and procure an inexpensive toothbrush, toothpaste, and flossing set.

I tell ya, you can always count on Dollar-ama.

Anywho, I got my gear, and make it to the dentist with plenty of time to spare to rid my mouth of any offending food particles.

I set up shop in the bathroom and got down to business.

Right away it started off wrong.

All the bits that I was flossing out of my teeth kept splattering all over the bathroom mirror.

It was like food fireworks.

I even tried to stop myself, and yet it didn’t matter.

When I was finished, the bathroom (but especially the mirror) was just littered with cheese bun detritus.

I stood there debating whether or not I should try to clean it up, wondering if taking a paper towel to the glass would just make it worse.

In the end, I gave it a shot and low and behold –

IT JUST MADE IT WORSE.

I tried to take a photo just to show how awful the mirror looked by the time I had finished, but unfortunately it didn’t come out all that well.

IMG_20130516_154937

You’ll just have to take my word for it – I left that bathroom in quite the state.

Good grief.

At least my teeth received an A+?

Elsewhere –

Here is my polka dot dress!

IMG_20130517_172605

And here is what Marc and I are just about to sit down to:

IMG_20130517_181043

I cannot wait to floss it all out of my teeth.

Happy Friday to you all!