Back then I was in between, between marriage and the divorce, between where I am today, who I am today, and who I was with him, my ex. I’d lived with a friend for about a year, and when we parted ways I found a place on my own downtown, and I liked where I was, who I was, and what possibilities lay ahead. I was dating casually, living a life I had denied myself when I got married so young. Now I was 32, and I had left all those other things behind, the things that had sidetracked me a decade before.
Well, is that not always the case? We always somehow end up blaming someone else, blaming them for our choices, our weakness, our mistakes.
One night as the band played on, and sitting at the bar, swigging back a pint, I met him.
At the time he seemed fun, with his pirate swagger and lying eyes, and saw what he was and I just didn’t really care, I didn’t need to be serious, and I just wanted to have fun. After it all, after the endings, the raw beginnings from nothing at all, the rising like a phoenix rebirth, I just needed, wanted, desired, was deserving of a bit of footloose and fancy-free, smokin’ weed and being a little kinky.
He was out of work, no home, arriving on the bus, and heading to the local watering hole, where all the new ones in town somehow know to go, and I think I met him there, but I don’t know for sure.
This was, you have to understand, a long, long time ago, and far, far away.
I so wanted to break free, of my mind, my mistakes, of that broken spirit, and a heart torn out a little; and I was in love with that historical decor, and the stories those old beer stained floors could tell, about mistakes and wrong turns, you know?
Prophetically, the song on the radio playing all the time, and so it became that song – Follow Me, by Uncle Kracker. Seriously, almost every word is true of us, and remains still, even looking back with 20/20 vision, and all I know of him, and me, still it resonates like a gong.
So he basically moved right in, cause I didn’t care, and at the time I didn’t need, or want, anyone’s opinion. I knew what his, em, character flaws were, his lies, his inefficiencies, proclivities, all of it, but I just didn’t care.
Well, until I did care.
But anyways, he challenged me like my ex-husband never had. He and I would have drag out dirty arguments, on politics, world events, people, places, things. He didn’t bow down to me, he didn’t shrink, he didn’t turn away, he had an opinion, a backbone, and I craved all of that – I wanted my equal, someone to help me to explore all the parts of myself I’d hidden from view for way too long.
And that was good, enough, at least enough for a while – until it wasn’t enough.
But anyways, the strangest thing about him is that there is really just one week that I remember distinctly, the week after 9/11. The week both of us were glued to whatever we could find online, and I remember we talked about it, debated.
But 8 days later the whole world shifted on its axis for me, when I walked through the darkened ward at the Old Vic hospital, and around that curtain, in the last bed just beside the window, the woman I met was not my mom – that woman was gone forever.
A month went by, difficult days, nights, moments. The day I found out she was going to die soon, before I left that day for the hospital, I had given him money to get cat food and kitty litter. I came home and he had got neither. Days before I had suspected he was lying about working, and found porn site after porn site in my browser history. I had put off looking for days, but I knew what I would find, and I knew he had to go, well past his due date – well past.
That night when I came home I cried and screamed and yelled and cried and screamed and yelled at him all night, into the early hours, and in the morning I told him to go. Forever. Never come back. Ever.
I could not carry two, I was barely hanging on to the one, me. So many lyrics, eh? Just when I needed you most... god knows… it would have been nice – but that is never how its worked out for me.
That is my strength though, from necessity, but a lesson etched into my soul nonetheless, that I am enough for when the going gets tough, a lesson that has served me well over the years since.
Oh, there was a brief talk a couple months after mom died, more of a clean-up talk really, happened sometime in early January 2002.
He told me he was bonded to some tattoo parlour down the street, some place owned by some biker. He had done temporary tats on the streets in Toronto, that’s how he made what little cash he had on hand, using these inks he had bought at this art supply store. Oh, and there is another story about his supplies, but let’s just say I’m an easy mark.
I suppose over time I forgave him, but I’ve never forgotten.
So it was a day, sunny, and little wolf and her dad were visiting. Having a few brewsques, doing a little celebrating for them getting this new apartment, and she was showing me her new tattoo.
I still wonder if there was something in the design that reminded me, but I told her that I’d once dated a guy who became a tattoo artist, and told her his name. She rocked back on the front step where we were sitting, and laughed, and then got out her phone and showed me the website with the guys name who owned the shop where she got it done.
Yes, it was, and sometimes life is so strange. So, so strange. So much water under that bridge, so much. Thought briefly, for a couple days after about going down and saying hi, for old time sake.
But, you know, I am well and goodly fancy-free on my own, thank ya kindly, I think I’d sooner poke a fork in my eye.