i stood by the luggage carousel, sleepless,
blinking underneath the bright fluorescent lights and watched for my
backpack amidst a circular parade of black suitcases. it came. i put it
on my back for the last
time and called the friend who had offered
to come pick me up. he was surprised to hear from me. was it today i
was coming home? really? he would be right there. after he finished his
i hung up the phone and put my bag back down. what was i doing here?
to whom did it matter if i was in the city or in my tukul, sweating.
only me? i supposed that was all we could hope for, that all we ever
really had was our one self. i called him back, said thank you, but i
wanted to take public transit home. it seemed like the right thing.
time to think, a slow unveiling of the city. he said ok, but i should
call him when i got to the market. i handed my customs form to the
officer, Nothing to Declare, and walked through the sliding door. in a
crowd of people i saw greg. he was waiting for me in a mullet wig and
old school blue bell bottoms.
"man. i can't believe you fell for that... i thought i blew it with
"after i finish my beer" ... ...yo, let's get out of here... ...people
have been staring at me for, like, an hour."
we drove back through the city. so familiar. the same straight
roads, the smooth whir of traffic pouring into traffic and out again.
"i won't ask you how it was. but i will ask you something else. how
do you feel about going to a pool party? yeah, right now. straight from
here. i've got some extra shorts. a towel. everyone will be there."
we went. my other plan was to lie on the floor in the dark of my apartment and feel disoriented. this seemed better.
we walked up the stairs to the radisson pool and snuck in the side
door. bam. faces. fast faces of people i know. flashflashflash. like
bulbs popping in my eyes. friends, my best ones, but this time not
stuck in the still photo memory of my imagination, but moving in real
time, doing real things. picking up a hamburger, diving into a pool,
standing up from their chair, walking towards me, hugging me. someone
had attached my brain to an electrical wire.
it was a mirror image, projected upside down. everything was in its
right place, but it didn't fit. whatever it was before, this round
thing that i was a part of, seemed broken. i didn't just want to sit
outside of the circle, i wanted to stand against the railing.
i leaned out over it and looked at the boats dotting toronto's
harbour. i didn't know how to start. an acquaintance came up behind me,
clapped me on the shoulder, then shook my hand.
"so.... how was your trip?"
"um. yeah, it was... uh...... good."