Semi-Fiction

I’m Tired of Dates

Photo of a tree trunk shot from below going up into a blue and cloudy sky. Branches are naked except for a few leaves. Branches from a coniferous tree are visible in the top left corner.

Content note: this piece contains several references to the COVID-19 pandemic.


On our pandemic date, we walk with masks around a snowy park. We run into an old teacher of yours and make polite conversation. Then we fall into the snow. It takes us on our separate paths. Our trains pull into different stations. We’re looking for something we won’t find here. Not at this time, not in this place. Not with each other.

I try to find easier ways of doing things, but nothing gets any easier. I am exhausted. I haven’t stopped working. My wrists ache from typing. My days off aren’t that at all. Sometimes, I think about giving up this way of living and pursuing what I love. I think about it in an abstract way because abstract is better for fantasy. When I try to pin down the details, they flutter away. These butterflies are alive. They can still fly.

I still don’t know what kind of writer or person I am. I want to read a book called The Courage to Be Disliked. I want to be courageous. I want to publish my book, but I’m terrified of putting my story out there. It’s painfully vulnerable and I don’t know if I could stand having it picked apart. I need to figure out how to separate myself from my story. Can that be done?

I watch another trans person come out and I almost cry several times. I think about voice training again. I think about binding. I think about growing my hair out. I think about cutting it off. It’s good I’m not trying to access healthcare right now. I can rarely get a hold of my doctor.

The routines I create save me and crush me simultaneously. The rules are necessary and I hate them (but also, not really).

My house has a big window and the man who builds my shower tells me I need curtains to keep warm. Blankets, even, if I can find them. I buy shower curtains at the grocery store. Nothing else is open.

I say when the pandemic ends and my date says if. I should text them, tell them I’m not cut out for this. I’ve tried. Trust me, I’ve tried.

I find meaning in everything and I am usually wrong about what things really mean.

Identity is troublesome and fleeting. Identity can be expansive or reductive. Identity can be as hard to pin down as a live butterfly, and as painful. Why are you trying to pin this poor creature? Why am I?

I talk to the gods almost every morning. It’s helping.

I play music in the background to make my writing feel more profound. I have never done mushrooms alone. I want to. I am curious and afraid. That would give me a way to go somewhere without having to travel.

I’m tired of going on dates, of glowing screens, video chats, and socially distant walks. Even if things were normal, however, I think I’d still be tired of them. There’s something notably unromantic about dating.

Time is a precious resource and it bleeds out of everything. I’m trying to hold time in a cheesecloth. I bought margarine because butter is hard and because butter runs out. Margarine is, apparently, not good for you. I don’t really care.

I’m tired of dichotomies. I’m tired of routines. I’m tired of typing.

I begin in pieces, in parts. I begin where my date ends. I begin in motel rooms. Cheap, seedy motel rooms that are surprisingly clean. I begin to write, to really write, and I begin to feel better.

Snippets

The Knowing

Most of the photo is black. There are a handful of faint lights in the centre left of the image.

Content note: this piece contains abstract references to trauma.


Sometimes, you want to stay in the dark because the light is too much to take. Sometimes, you choose the dark. Sometimes, you say no to new information. Yes, even in the information age. Yes, even in the disinformation age. Sometimes, you say no. Sometimes, you go for solitary walks at night. Sometimes, you don’t respond to messages. Sometimes, you choose to be alone. Sometimes, you just don’t want to know.

You’re tired of knowing. You wish you could know less. You wish you could go back to knowing less because you know the regret of knowing. When given the option, the choice, sometimes you say no to more knowing. Sometimes, you say yes to the dark and you slide slowly into its embrace. It’s safer here. It’s quieter. It hurts less. You can tend to your scars here, rub the raised skin with lightly-scented oil. You don’t need any new gashes. Not yet, not now, maybe not ever.

Your friends may not understand. Aren’t you curious? They’ll ask. I’d be curious. I couldn’t stand not knowing.

I know enough to know I won’t be able to stand knowing more. I’ve known too much. I’ve known too much too young. I’ve had too much knowing. I want to unknow. I can’t do that, but I can say no to more. I can exit the conversation. I can leave the letter on the floor. I can put down the phone. I can go for a walk in the dark. I can fade into the peace of night. I can dwell in the peace of not knowing.

Please, let me stay here. Please, don’t share any more. I can’t take knowing more. And of what I have, I plan to… if not let it drain away, at least let it fade. Let it fade so it doesn’t hurt so much. I will always have this knowing, but I can choose, now, how much more to take and what to do with what I have.

I choose to leave the pages untouched

and

I choose to say no

and

I choose to let this knowing fade.

Semi-Fiction

Quicker Than a Streetcar Can Say Surprise

Content note: this piece contains references to the COVID-19 pandemic.


I miss sitting somewhere in public and writing even though I never did that. I want to go to Fran’s All Night Diner at some ridiculous hour and eat greasy food and pull out my notebook and write about it. I’ll ask if they have decaf and they’ll have to put on a pot and I’ll feel bad, but don’t worry, I’ll drink a lot. The refills are endless. I’ll get through the whole pot. They’ll ask if they should put on another and I’ll say no, that’s alright, thanks, it’s time to go visit my brother. And they’ll say their shift isn’t up yet. And I’ll say, no, not you, silly, me. It’s time for me to go visit my brother. And they’ll say, oh, yeah, isn’t that that guy who works at the café? Yeah, that’s the one. I’ll get the bill, please. Oh, certainly. Then I’ll be off, off to where the buildings are tall. You know, I’ve actually never visited my brother before because of the pandemic. What pandemic? Oh, have we forgotten already? Thank goodness.

Then I’ll be up and outta there, quicker than a streetcar can say surprise. I’ll be crossing that old town at lightning speed just to see the only other redhead for miles. Now that can’t be right, we use kilometres in Canada, but you know what I mean.

I’ll cross that old town and be haunted by its memories, but hey, at least I can actually be there without the fear of catching my death and spreading it. No one will look directly at me because they’ll know I’m not from around there and I won’t mind one bit. I’ll keep quiet and we’ll all agree that it’s better they don’t look. But you just wait, just wait until I get to my brother’s place because then, I’ll talk. They’ll all talk. Not about anything specific. Not about anything that matters, just the kind of talk you use to make everyone feel better. You know the kind. You use it all the time.

I’ll get to my brother’s place and I won’t have the door code, so he’ll have to buzz me in. The building he lives in is 83 floors tall. It rivals the CN Tower. No, it doesn’t, don’t make me laugh. But the CN Tower is right over there, see? He’ll buzz me in from above and I’ll walk into a lobby I’ve never seen. It’ll be unremarkable. Elevator doors will open and my brother will step out. Where’s the red hair? I’ll wonder. It’ll be dark blue, but he’ll still be my brother.

Would you like some coffee? He’ll ask.

He brings his work home with him (quite literally).

Would you mind putting on a pot of decaf?