Necropastoral—in the night the pothos falls from its perch, tumbling headfirst from the shelf. Its legs have gotten too long, it has eaten up the soil that I put in with it four years ago now. This isn’t the first time it has taken a suicide dive—maybe the third or the fourth in the past week, the plant’s environ’s now too light for the plant, upsetting its delicate ecosystem. “You weren’t kidding, when you said that it would swallow you up over the Zoom.” (My camera chastely tilted from the bed to the bookcase, the trailing green arms.) It tumbles when I haven’t watered in a while, the bed drying out—I don’t remember now when last, leaves curling in the kitchen. Somehow difficult to take this kind of care of myself. More than I care to admit I have ordered out from SkiptheDishes.ca (twice, which is a lot for me in one week, but I have eaten other convenience foods besides). I like to cook but this is grief. This is death, more kinds than one. I can’t know what it is going on in the mind of another, or others—what has been shared or expressed, how honest they have been (with themselves or their partner). It really doesn’t matter. A few days ago I was feeling expansive and bountiful—what did any of it matter? I was ready to release the anger. I did. And then the pot came crashing down, again and again, news came with it, and I was forced to wonder why this opportunity was being chased so relentlessly, as if it was the urgent thing that had been left in the fall, or in the summer, not something else, a second place. What does it matter? What does it matter? It seems like shaky ground. But that is none of my business. I will fix the plant—I put more soil in the pot. I water it with water from a jewelled tumbler. It returns to its shelf, minus a few arms. So these arms were taken—the plant is stronger now. Less likely to fall. Less likely to blow away.
On Wednesday in the afternoon I go to Christie Pits and read from The Road Past Altamont by Gabrielle Roy—a book I must have first read ten or perhaps eleven years ago (and now must read again, because I am teaching it). The long story “The Old Man and the Little Girl,” a story about visiting Winnipeg beach for a city dweller who never imagined she could see anything so grand. Tonight the story “The Move,” about the desire to pick up, to leave things behind, but to also get a kind of homesickness on the road. Whereas the first story is in part about the triumph of following unlikely desires, the second is about being sometimes confronted their sordidness, their disappointing vulgarity and mundaneity (as I have written here before, Marina Tsvetaeva confronts this too, in her essay “My Pushkin,” ironically disappointed by the sea that does not match the sea that she has learned, first, from Pushkin’s poetry). Yesterday I think afterwards, on my way back home, of how much I liked reading Roy’s story, even though it also brought a certain amount of pain (I will never know Roy’s Winnipeg, not through the eyes of an intimate). But I liked the pattern of thought that it seemed to produce in me, liked thinking not of Roy’s young protagonist exactly but in the voice of the retrospective narrator, yearning and dreamy and curious. It made it worth being confronted with so much loss—how strange that the names of even places you have never been can become embodied with so much pain!
I find something like a kind of shame that I still feel this way—find it, at the very least, annoying. I know that I am not being charitable to myself. But I would like, somehow, to speed past this moment (I am impatient for a kind of resolution, for closure, for new beginnings—impatient in a way that I know has caused harm). I feel like a character in a Murakami novel—I know I need to surrender, but I don’t know how. One day I will. But for the moment, I’m going in circles, looking up and down cramped alleys for my lost cat, my cat which may one day come back but only after I get as low as possible, in order to meet it on its level, or at least to try to understand.