Christmas is like candy; it slowly melts in your mouth, sweetening every taste bud, making you wish it could last forever.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
Just Jazzy Advent Calendar
I wish I had never thrown away my diaries. And papers and poetry and notebooks and stories and public speeches (I’m not kidding, I used to write speeches!) that I started compiling pretty much from the time I learned how to print.
Of course 99% of it was no doubt insignificant drivel, as evidenced by the few pieces that have survived the years, but there might have been some hidden gem in there. Now I’ll never know.
When I met ‘the love of my life’ and knew it was serious I also wanted it to be perfect. So I had to be perfect. With no sordid past. One weekend I came home and gathered up all my diaries that I’d been keeping for the last dozen years of my life. There wasn’t time to sort through them or even give much thought to what I was doing. I just lugged all of them down to the wood furnace in the basement, ripped them apart book by book, fed them in small doses to the flames and watched them burn. Getting rid of all the incriminating evidence. I’m not kidding, those were the exact words I had in my head.
I suppose it’s some indication of how important the relationship was to me, that I didn’t want anything to put our future happiness in jeopardy. I thought if he ever found out about even half of the things I did before I met him he’d be completely put off and disillusioned. So all the damning data went up in smoke.
It was all pretty pointless. Turns out he is a complete respecter of privacy and not even all that interested in how I got to be me. I probably couldn’t have forced him to read one of my journals at gun point. He’d have given up after a couple of pages and reached for the newspaper or a biology textbook, both of which he would have found infinitely more fascinating.
So all that teenage history of angst and passion is gone. All the names and dates and crushes and mad flings, hopes and dreams. Although even if they’d survived the years and our various moves over all this time, there’s a very good chance I’d have destroyed them all eventually anyway, if only to save myself from potential embarrassment.
But man, there were a lot of stories in there. The honest truth, because in a diary you don’t lie to yourself. Now I have to rely on selective memory and invent the details and I’m probably not getting it right at all.
Yesterday I talked to a man who had only one leg. He came rolling into the Vision Centre in his wheel chair with a beaming broad smile on his face. It was a smile so fiercely beautiful I had to smile back. I don’t know how anyone who looked at him could hope to do otherwise.
While his glasses were being adjusted, cleaned and repaired, (all the helpful mundane things we do all day), we had one of those little chats that strangers are prone to having. Is it getting any warmer out there as the day goes on? Do you ever remember a spring so late? He told me it was snowing again and he said it with such delight. You should come out to the parking lot and see it! All those gigantic flakes just floating down. You can catch them on your glove – they’re like tiny bits of lace. Fragile, but captivating and wonderful to look at. So perfect it’s amazing!
But in my head I could see our driveway, and the snow shovel, and the banks and the horrible roads. So I gave my head a shake to get rid of those pictures in it. I said we don’t think to look at the fascinating side of things often enough, do we? It’s so easy to focus on the negative instead. But you’re right, this kind of gentle snowfall has a certain charm if only we choose to see it.
I didn’t look at the place where his left leg should have been, although my eyes wanted to. I didn’t let them. I didn’t ask him how long he’d been without it, or how hard it might be to get himself dressed in the morning and in and out of a vehicle and across a snowy rutted parking lot. And what do you do with all those left boots and shoes and pant legs? How horrible has your life been and how hard was this to accept?
I said none of those things that were in my head, because we were just two ordinary people having an ordinary conversation, being pleasant and accepting of each other the way we happen to be at this moment, no deep introspections required. He got his glasses back and he was on his way.
All afternoon I kept thinking good thoughts about snowflakes. I thought about those airy little bits of lace, there for a moment on the back of his glove, and how they made his face so blissful. His mood was so intoxicating, I wanted to give him a hug and thank him for that.
But I didn’t. I wish I had.