A week ago, I left my sun-kissed Aussie girls by the Maison Marie-what-have-you and rode off in a cab, with the best French accent I've had yet. I had coffee post-customs at Montreal airport, waiting for too-expensive breakfast, filled with a gratitude that I knew I could pay for it. Alone for the first time in weeks and weeks...it was familiar. To sit in open recognition of the void of sadness which yawns open when I leave people who are part of me. That is also familiar.
Much of my life has been like this, always coming back to the moment when I am most alone, at last alone, watching a place diminish before my eyes, finding my heart once more quartered. Finding I have become altered in a short time, finding I have grown to love impossibly more than before. In this way, I live with a divided heart, a beat in every nation that's held me. And these people I love, these lands that have housed us, a longing for them springs up out of nowhere, powerful beyond reason.
The night before I left Canada I had a fabulous French dinner with the girls, Shane, and Nickolai. We ate in the Gay Village (really) which had strands and strands of pink baubles strung across the Rue de Saint Catherine for blocks and block. It is the happiest street on earth, even happier than Castro in San Francisco which I didn't think was possible.
We rode bikes home in the dark. Feeling the grip of a headache raging away, all I could think as I watched the girls riding ahead of me was how rare and unlikely a thing this was, to be traveling with friends at 31, and to win an international award with them, and make shows with them, and follow behind them on bikes in Montreal, and meet with them in foreign countries because they are there too, and we decided to live in the world, and not just our homes. That was a run on sentence.
My life is beyond my own comprehension, but I don't feel overwhelmed by it. I feel it pulsing around me, all the tiny decisions I made years ago, or even yesterday, having grown into a beast with its own heartbeat, down to the shape of my body and the faint lines that begin to decorate my face. Every little choice I made has snowballed into this reality that surrounds me. That is the most surprising part, to find that not only am I living my life, but it is living me. And so once more my eyes widen to find my heart rent and that once more, love is real and it is not without a price, and the price gets dearer as I get older, and even more essential to pay.
I will pay it. Again and again, until everything I am and have is spent. What else is there to do?
So I'm being really sentimental so far, so here, I will share with you what I have gleaned from this journey across some Canadian cities with some Aussie chicks. I have:
- reaffirmed my intense hatred of automatic toilets (stop flushing!!! there's nothing in you!)
- confirmed once more that there is no power on earth to equal that of a nude woman without shame.
-Canada has the highest per capita ratio of really really really cute dogs I've ever witnessed
- never underestimate the kindness of strangers
- never underestimate the nerve of mothers
- don't walk around Toronto in a soaking wet costume at night for any length of time, even in the summer.
I've never done street performance before this, unless you count singing on the street in front of a coffee cup of euros. I'd put them in different worlds. After the first show we did, I delivered the hat line and held out the little gold bag that Ruthie had sewn for us. People swarmed me. I couldn't imagine so many would come, and stay, and juts stood there grinning incredulously as face after face pushed towards me, pushing fists of coins or a folded bill, and I could help but hear in my mind, "holy crap, it's working!!"
Anyone who has done a busking festival in Canada will see how naive I was not to expect this outpouring of generosity, but it was a very, very welcome surprise.
By the end of our two-festival tour, the dirt was so caked on us from the street that no amount of scrubbing got it out. It was awesome.
When I left my girls, I took a plane to Alexandria, Louisiana cause it was way past time to see my dad and my huge step family. There's a moment I look forward to every year, which is walking off the plane and being held, completely held, an a thick, wet heat. That is my heaven.
I found my family well and healthy and so spent a week talking pretty much non-stop with my dad about ketones, omega 6 acids, trees, and other delights of the universe. We put several bottles of wine out of their misery and my step mama made me a gumbo that I could have made a meal out of just the smell. I stuck my whole head in the pot so I wouldn't forget it.
And so divided once more, I go home to San Francisco, where my love lies waiting silently for me.