Sunday, November 07, 2021

It Was(n't) a Very Good Year

My dad by a river's edge, before I was born. Date unknown, photographer, presumably my mother.

A piece of luggage, I suppose, is a fitting place to find a memory. As I packed a rarely used garment bag (I hardly ever travel with a suit) with my costume for Halloween night, I thought to reduce some weight by removing the laptop liner. Unexpectedly, there were some items still inside the insert’s many pockets. Mostly there were bandages for foot blisters which I painfully discovered were common when I travel. This is probably because I ride a bike everywhere, and on trips where walking is more common, it turns out I’m a bit of a tenderfoot. There was also a faded receipt.

At first I thought it was an overlooked business expense but then I saw the time and date and instantly knew what it was.

Tim Horton’s Toronto Int’l Airport,
JAN07 '14   9:27 AM

It was the day I travelled back to St. John’s for my father’s funeral.

2014 was, as they say, a helluva year. In January, my father died. Three months later I bought a house. A few months after that I was officially divorced. That autumn I would join a local advocacy group on a project that would take six years to see finished. They say the cadence of such eventful years is ten. I can’t say that’s true or not and I’m sure the Universe is on no such schedule.

“Death is not the opposite of life, but a part of it.”
—Haruki Murakami
I have come to realize the truth in that Murakami quote. This isn’t any even-numbered anniversary of my dad’s death but the recent passing of a loved one’s father certainly stirred up some grief from the bottom of the glass that is my memory. I was surprised by the emotion but it helped me come to terms with it like a surrendering army. There was disappointment but also relief. The grief will always be there but so will the funny and joyful memories. If death is a part of life then the grief of loss is also a part of knowing that life. You just have to roll with it.

What are the milestones of a life? I recall Facebook had attempted a timeline showing your birth, your graduation, your marriage, a change of address, a divorce, a long held job, et cetera. They seemed to have abandoned it for a "Memories" section instead. My phone will sometimes feature photos from "A Year Ago Today". I now question my earliest childhood memories as perhaps implants placed there after hearing so many stories of some event from my family or from projecting myself into a photo I've looked at many times. I remember my last day of high school. I'd purchased an newly releassed album (or LP) as a sort of gift to myself. It was a "special edition" pressed in translucent yellow vinyl. When I returned to the car, the album, left in the heat of the car, had almost folded itself like a hard shell taco. Later, I very carefully heated it in the oven to return it to flat, but it still had an undeniable wave form. I returned it to Sam's complaining it came out of the sleeve like that. I remember the day I realized I had completed my bachelor's degree. I still remember the first time I filed my income tax myself. That seemed like a milestone. I also remember the year I didn't pay any tax because I hadn't earned enough. For some reason, I can never remember the dates I was at college studying animation. My point is, I've always been someone who, while very conscious of my past, has not dwelled on it. I do not live there. I also am not the most forward thinking person (ask my accountant). Life is now, not then. Yet, occasionally you find a receipt in a pocket of some luggage that has its own baggage.


Blogger JM said...

My favourite post so far this year. Death, indeed, is part of life, making it richer alongside the grieving….

6:39 PM, November 09, 2021  

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