Try to recall the day last year when you were happiest. Why then? What were the circumstances? Did it happen because of something you did, or did it just happen? When I asked someone this question the other day they said, "I can't remember the day but I can remember the hour very well. Is that good or pathetic?"
~ Jonathan Carroll
Is he referring to this past year, 2014, or rather the year before? I suppose I can take licence in answering that, so define it as 2013, as I think of 2014 as this year. Or is it the year past? Hmm... I fear I am dithering though and shall just get on with the task at hand.
I slipped into a new decade
So what did 2013 hold? This is an interesting challenge for my memory. The biggest, most obvious thing must have been my birthday in July. I turned 40, but the date held far less fireworks than I imagined. The number came at me like a bulldozer trying to run me down, but after a few weeks, didn't have the punch I had expected. There were celebrations with friends and family, cake, and a trip to Sunfest with my girls for a taste of international music and arts. But it didn't make my heart stop. And I don't know if it contained my happiest moments to be truthful.
What else happened in 2013? At the time, I was pretty happy to meet my boyfriend's children in August. We had dated for what seemed like plenty long enough, but there were always reasons why we couldn't be introduced. When the date finally came, it was sprung on me at the last minute. I still had time to get nervous as all get-out though. To my delight, they happily liked me. And when I finally got over the fear of being the dreaded "other woman" I had hope that we could be one big happy family. We spent many happy moments together later that summer and fall, catching fish, carving pumpkins, and creating snowforts. The kids all got along better than I could have dreamed. The future looked bright. But as circumstances have since changed, I no longer have much to crow about over those particular memories. They sadly get lost amongst questions and lies.
Well then, where else did joy lie that year? There were plenty of smiles and laughter anytime I got together with my sister and her kids. And if I think about it, I know that my happiest moment was not a when, but with a whom.
Together with my sister, we went to Clovermead to see their annual bee beard competition. We hit the Ontario Science Centre in the spring, and gathered maple syrup, easter eggs and Autumn leaves; all together as a family unit. In those moments I felt most myself and at ease. I didn't have to be anyone else to impress. I wasn't required to be on my best behaviour. I could smile and laugh without fear of reprisals or ill effects. A pure love existed which didn't judge me, nor my actions. It wasn't big and spectacular, but all those moments were filled with the best of me and the best of what I hope to share with the world.
So I cannot say what my happiest moment of 2013 was. In fact, in 2014 I would probably have the same response. The "when" lay in the people whom I had the privilege to be with. My control of it had more to do with the fact that I chose to be with them. My family. My sister. Our love. Unconditional and joyful. And in recognizing that, I give thanks that I am blessed not with one sole happiest moment, but rather a happiest feeling when I am privileged to spend time with those I love most.
He said not to tell anyone. He was embarrassed. He knew his behaviours were not quite right. He didn't want people to judge him. It would make it awkward for him, and of course me. People would question and judge. I wouldn't want that now, would I?
"Don't tell anyone of the voices I hear. Don't mention the shadows I see flitting around and the questions of whether they are real, drug-induced, or come from potential mental instabilities. If only I loved him, they would all disappear. They would just melt into the dawn of our perfect tomorrows forever."
As long as I didn't tell anyone.
The creak of a floorboard wasn't the house settling. It was mysterious men waiting until he was unawares to sweep me away.
The whispers on the wind were lovers rapt in illicit acts not meant to be, but meant to be specifically heard to drive demons into unfettered thoughts.
The wrinkles in clothes were evidence of a tussle, a coerced tryst, a living lie to provoke anxiety and mistrust. Not anything to do with sitting at a desk for hours, or caused by the casual push of a shopping cart in the grocery store.
These are boxes peeked into. These are memories shoved into dark corners, so as not to inspect them, so as not to puzzle them together and see the whole picture. Those boxes have been opened though. They have been pushed together to make a mountain out of the molehills I refused to do anything but stumble around.
But as I stare at them aghast, they crumble in the light of a new day. Their power is lost in history even as the scars simmer on my soul. I talk them out. I write them away. I steal back the power they had to create fantastical phantasmic faerytales that were too full of bogeymen and ghouls for anyone to survive. Because I wouldn't have, had we continued.