my house, in the middle of my street

Let’s talk a little about social interactions, shall we?

I used to be the most polite doormat you had ever met. A stranger could intentionally hockey-night-in-Canada body check me in a wide hallway and I would be the one to apologize. I know, I’m a sucker for pain. I’ve finally been able to gain some volume when it comes to finding my own voice, however; I’m more likely to send a sandwich back in a restaurant if it’s obviously not made to order (I take Burger King’s motto very SERIOUSLY) or give an old lady a tongue thrashing because she cut me in the Safeway line. I mean, who do these 90 year olds think they are anyway? But where is the limit? How far can I go?
It seems that “Other People” have quite a bit of leeway when it comes to making their sentiments known-like the older guy who pressed his pasty middle finger to the window as he sped past me in the street, or the VERY old, even pastier man who accosted me in the No Frills parking lot for parking a SMIDGE over the yellow line; he felt an appropriate comment was to tell me to go back to my country. Snort.
Now that I’m looking at these experiences, I’ve come to two conclusions:

1. I probably shouldn’t be allowed to drive and

2. I have a curious and detrimental attraction to wrinkly white men.

wait…let me get back to the point.
When, and for what reason, were we so silenced? And when I say “we”, I don’t mean just women, I refer to us humans. (I know what you’re thinking and I promise I’ll do another post on extraterrestrial rights, but one thing at a time, ok?)
We have been taught to gulp down our emotions and convictions (such hard pills to swallow) until our bellies swell and we have such bad constipation that nothing short of a divine charcoal enema can release us of our festering sentiments. Happy is ok, joy is even better; nobody quells laughter because it has “gone on too long”, or stifles elation because it has “gone too far”. But what of anger? Sadness? Disappointment? Pissoffedness? These are bad , ugly bugs that need to be squashed, exterminated before they even emerge from behind the dusty stove. Speaking of appliances…

        To live authentically is to take ownership of every nook and cranny of ME; the bright, sunny living room, the crammed and constantly messy kitchen with dishes piled to the ceiling, tasty food warming on the stove. And the burnt toast. And the spilled milk. And the crude drawings lovingly taped to the fridge. And most importantly the junk drawer-for all the countless, random things that end up on my counter. I throw them in there, out of sight, out of mind.

 

There are other areas of ME that form the home in which I dwell, such as that one room in the basement. Nobody wants to go “down there”, yet it is still “there”. It hosts spiders and their webs, a few ancient boxes filled with forgotten papers, and a grey mouse that nibbles at the floorboards and drywall, providing a nostalgic rhythm of nibbles on otherwise starkly quiet nights.

My teeny tiny bathroom has a perpetual dripping faucet and smells like vanilla potpourri. And the familiar scent of urine.

The dark hallways with creaky floors, full of crumbs; the walls with hand prints, scuffs, even a hole or two. That one light fixture that will NEVER get a fresh light bulb because it is just too far out of reach. Too far, and out of reach.

Alas, my bedroom. The central part of the house where everything begins and ends-a solace, a prison, a cave and a 5-star resort. Where secrets are kept, and revealed, where pleasure happens, followed by pain, where sleep happens succeeded by many. sleepless. nights.

These four walls have echoed with angry shouts and opera arias; trembled from slammed doors and the moans of child birth. Only the off-white walls know of the desperate sobs and manic supplications. Only they know. They know. And I find comfort in that.

J*

 

in living colour

I’ve been living in the grey for quite some time now, and have been quite happy with that. Neither here nor there when it comes to dramatics or emotions, and this has truly served me.

Today has been a very emotionally charged day, however. My 85 year old grandmother is going back to Ontario after her 3 week visit, and I have mixed feelings. I get swept away in the moment when I see my 5 and 6 year old snuggle up to her in the bed, very much aware that most children do not get the opportunity to meet or spend time with their great-grandparents.

Every year at Christmas, whether we are together or not, she cries, saying that this will probably be her last holiday dinner. She’s been saying this for 30 years. One year she’ll be right, but I really hope it’s not next year, or the year after that. I kind of wish I had some sort of potion that would make her live for at least another 50 years. Within her is so much history, pain, wisdom, and bitterness, and I still need to soak it all in.

I still need her to teach me how to crochet, and make rice balls that are perfectly golden crispy on the outside with hot, melted mozzarella cheese in the middle. I still need to hear about all the marriage proposals she had when her hair was still black and her waist still trim. I’ve heard them all before but I need to hear them again. I need to hear about her 3 months and 7 days in Toronto when she first arrived in Canada, and how she picked tomatoes to earn a living. I need to hear the disdain in her voice when she adds that her family was 7th generation white-collar workers and this work was beneath her-but she did it anyway. I still need to hear about the little baby that she lost at 3 months, holding up her curled hand and saying that it was a boy, tiny like a doll. Then she’ll sigh and look off to a place somewhere in the past, commenting matter-of-factually that she’s seen so much pain in this life.

Part of me thinks that she secretly wants to just die; she has only one sister left in Italy, house-ridden with dementia. I think she hangs on to life for her cat Lisa.

This brings me to the topic of living colourfully. Soaking in all the tangent reds and hippy greens. Turning my face towards the yellow, heated sun-it’s been a while since I’ve felt that warmth, not for lack of desire, but more for fear of getting burned. Experiencing life fully, without filters is terrifying; raw emotions, much like an electric guitar plugged in at full volume, vibrate the soul but often leave your ears ringing like you’ve been hit upside the head with a 2×4.

Scathing, terracotta orange brings back memories of a life long ago; dreams of an Italian fairy tale, lost in the Mediterranean. Beige was my childhood; plastic-covered couches and heavy, glass ashtrays. And then there’s the red bucket in the bathroom, a vision that I’ve only just recently made peace with.

I’ve surrounded myself with deep, rich brown because it’s so safe. This probably explains my obsession with chocolate-it’s like a warm embrace.

But I always float back to grey-mysterious, nebulous grey. Windsor grey, on a misty morning, or any morning for that matter. Windsor, struggling to rise, the 519, home to artists, musicians, vagabonds and the likes. 519, after 313, the grey river dividing, with a cancerous tenacity.

It’s settled then, I’ll stick with grey. Crayola can kiss my ass.

received_10153133626756266