I spent last night in a home of such grand proportions, my footsteps echoed in the halls. I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and got lost on the way back to bed.
Sleyefox is spending a week and a half in a house dubbed the Mississauga Mansion. (Mississauga is a smaller city bordering Toronto.) Friends of friends of friends hire her on a yearly basis to ensure that, while they're away, their teenagers don't set themselves on fire, do get to school on time, and occasionally eat something of a higher nutritional value than tacos.
In return, she is remunerated with a pretty penny, and instructions to use the house as if it were her own.
Flash forward to a message left on my voicemail at work: "Sauna, baby! It's going to be a cold night, and they've got a sauna, a 53-inch TV with DVD and surround-sound, and a bed that sleeps about 42 people! Let's do it!"
Right, then. Turning that down would be downright stupid, wouldn't it? Besides, it would give me the opportunity to rehash London, complete with pictures and souvenirs, over the course of many hours and much discussion.
Man, that sauna was niiice... We sat there, wearing nothing but the biggest, fluffiest towels in the world, and the sheen of our own sweat as we de-stressed and detoxified. (I may have actually left the last bits of jetlag behind, which is lovely, as it's been a real bugger since I've been back.)
"So. Was it amazing?" she asked me, as she dabbed at the dampness on her forehead.
I leaned back against the wood paneled walls and sighed. "Mmm. Yes. It was incredible. I love how that city brings out the fearlessness in me."
"Fearlessness? Dear God, what did you do?"
Hm. What did I do? You know, it's complicated, but I really didn't do anything. I flirted with strangers, but that's par for the course. I danced and drank and ate far too much, but that's to be expected when holidaying, isn't it?
The very last night I was there, I felt restless and unable to concentrate on any one thing. I should have been trying to get some sleep, as I had to be up early the next day, but I knew sleep would elude me. I had taken a short nap that afternoon to make up for the virtually sleepless night I'd had the night before. Jude had returned to Wales several hours before, but he had left with me what is possibly my new favorite album - if something released in 1981 could be considered new. So, at 11:30 at night, I loaded Squeeze's East Side Story into my Discman, and went for a walk. A long, looong walk, that took me up and down London's main thoroughfares, through late night crowds of people and barren stretches of road where wearing headphones in the dark is a stupidly dangerous thing to do. It drizzled a little, but you don't get wet in London rain, so it didn't bother me. If anything, the chill in the air cleared the cobwebs from my head and I achieved a clarity and sense of perspective that had been a long time coming for me.
After several hours of aimless meandering, I ended up in Russell Square, an idyllic family spot during the day, and a trolling park for gay men at night. I picked what I thought was a fairly well-lit area, and just sat for a while, entranced by Squeeze's catchy little tunes. Alternating between cigarettes and nibbles on my now-ruined fingernails, I realized that returning to London had made me face up to several hard truths.
Four years ago, I returned to Toronto after only 8 months of being on my own in Britain. I now understand that that was probably a mistake. I had convinced myself that going home was the appropriate thing to do, because I thought I had done what needed to be done. I had grown up... or at least made a stab at it. But my roots were in Canada, and in as much as that's where I intended to settle, I wanted to begin as I meant to go on. No more bumming around Europe. No more trying to find myself. It was time to live a normal life, as a real grown-up.
Gawd. How stupid. Why didn't I realize that I have my whole bloody life to settle down? Visiting London last week made me look at the situation more rationally. And this is what I saw... When I got on that plane to Toronto that chilly December morning four years ago, all I was doing was running away again. The friends I had made and to whom I had become dependant on had gone home. My job had lost it's sheen of novelty, and was becoming monotonous. And because I can be Poe-like, the weather had taken a turn for the worse and was starting to piss me off.
I had been under the impression that my new city would deliver daily doses of happiness, all by itself, and I completely forgot that, like life in Toronto, London has it's bad days too. I thought that leaving home and breaking away from the Italo-Canadian family fold was the tough part, but now I realize that it's actually harder to stick it out when the blues descend for the first time in a new place. It's harder not to run home.
As I sat in Russell Square on Tuesday night, trying to ignore the randy, gay men that were starting to surface around me, I realized that I didn't quite do as well as I thought I had the first time around...
I'm glad of one thing, though. I'm old enough, and philosophical enough, to understand that one error in judgement can always be rectified by the wisdom of age. Four years have passed, and while I may have regressed a little, I think that fiery part of me that was born on English soil just may find her way out again.
God. I hope it happens soon!
* * *
At some point in my late-night promenade, after having made peace with past bad decisions, more recent happenings started to invade my mind. I started to reflect on the longest and shortest 25-hours I had just spent with Jude. I've mentioned him before of course, if only fleetingly. A smashing boy, but he gets inside my head far too often for me to be completely comfortable. (He fancies himself a bit of a rogue, but he's just too damn nice to qualify for the position, I think. If he's anything at all, I think he's got a touch of the seer in him. Magician, even.)
Funny thing. We found ourselves together in front of a mirror at one point. The similarity in our eyes is too obvious to ignore, and one of us noted that it was just one other thing on the endless list of things we have in common. (While looking at the holiday photos, Sleyefox said - in a completely unprompted comment - that we could be brother and sister.)
Another time, another place? Perhaps we should... Maybe we were meant...
We've both, I think, privately toyed with the idea of furthering our relationship, bridging the gap of geography, tossing the idea of a platonic friendship out the window, and taking advantage of the odd connection we have to each other.
A lovely thought in theory of course, but frankly, we're both too intelligent to ruin a decidedly good and precious thing. You know? Oh sure, Harry met Sally, and eventually they made it work. A wonderful friendship that would have been screwed up by sex if they hadn't been so crazy in love with each other.
Please. As flaky as I am, even I don't buy that Hollywood crap. Besides, we're each happy in our respective status, and what's more, we're happy for each other as well.
I'm sad right now, but only because I left a friend behind. And you know, geography is a bitch when all you want to do is hang out and have a laugh.
* * *
Back in the sauna...
"Fearlessness?" she asked again?
"What can I tell you?" I shrugged. "Facing hard truths can take guts sometimes."
"That's what you did? You went to London to face your truths? Did you get them all, at least?"
I grinned then. "Well, er, no. See, I was making real headway in my introspection, but I was interrupted by a lovely British twink who politely asked me to vacate the bench on which I was sitting. He wanted to fellate a particular stranger in that particular spot you see, and really, that just breaks one's train of thoughts."
...You just gotta love London...
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