Ghost Stories Make the Light Less Scary. Your Heart Is Not All the Way Broken.

Ghost Stories Make the Light Less Scary. Your Heart Is Not All the Way Broken.

I’ve been pretty transparent about the fact that fall is a difficult season for me — I have seasonally affected depression, and fall is my annual rude entrance into the colder months — but this fall has been extra. And it’s not just me. You’ve seen the world, right?

looking down at legs and feet in boots standing on fall leaves on asphalt

Strangely, fall is also my favourite season. It’s the season of the soft crack of leaves under foot, feet in the best season’s shoes, light scarves that flutter, the warm smell of drying vegetation in the still-warm sun. Part of how I take care of myself when the days shorten is I go for long walks, take in the world with my eyes like each different colour is a vitamin my heart needs.

But there seems to be no soft places anymore. Everyone needs soft places, but my head has been invaded by anxiety about racist, anti-woman, anti-lgbtq, anti-environment rhetoric that’s winning votes all over the place, and the world isn’t hiding any of it. I know that the world’s never really hidden any of it — I’ve always felt the bigotry against the various things I am — but it used to seem like there were more places to shelter from it. Hiding isn’t optimal, but this soft heart wants to run away to the moon and wiggle its toes in silken, silent moon dust. I imagine a thorough silence thick as black velveteen.

aerial close-up of the arm on a park bench in Regina’s Victoria Park with graffiti that reads “Trent Machiskinic / The cops killed me / Aug 24/18 / I was Alone”

There are softer moments with Augie. These are usually silly moments, too, because Augie is stupid. I’ve never had a dumber cat. We had to teach him how to poop correctly, and now we’re teaching him how to clean his own butt correctly. He’s bad at eating raw meat because it takes him ages while he laps at it softly like it’s hard candy. He hasn’t yet worked out how sitting on laps happens. This makes him even better to hang out with, because he watches everything that happens around him like it’s brand new with a look that says “what is even happening right now?”

He reminds me that the world is, in a way, brand new in each new moment. The world is born and born and born again. It is not only an awful thing. The world can be terrible things, but it is not only terrible.

On Saturday, I felt like I would only be able to weep if I left my bed, but feelings aren’t the whole truth, so I got up, took Aidan with me out into the warm sun, and wore my favourite boots. Who can’t love a pair of redwood Blundstones?

my feet on an old sidewalk showing off a new pair of redwood Blundstone boots

We ate beautiful food outside. It felt transcendent. We sat in the long, autumn rays of sunlight and watched a giant old crow claim the church across the street where small mounds of snow clung to the shade. It was all juxtapositions. I felt helpless; the crow owned every inch of his domain. The light was hot and yellow on my shoulders; shadows chilled snow in the churchyard. Shockingly hot coffee scalded the tip of my tongue; a soft language spoken low at the next table was a balm.

I thought, “I can be these other things. I can be soft. I can exhale. The whole world of dark things is not here at this table with me. I have this food and that wild crow and the small click of Aidan’s shutter and this beautifully worn wood pressed up against my fingers.”

I have to remember to list what I love. It’s easy to forget that your heart is not all the way broken. Part of it is always knit together doing its work.

Sometimes metaphors help:
When one finger gets slammed in a door, you don’t spend much time thinking about how the other nine are mechanical wonders, at least not right away, not until you’re glad they can still open a jar or hold a pen while the other one heals.

I made myself use the good parts of my heart to note what I still love. Saturday got better.

We hung out with Miguel at Seed. Dogs, man. Even the ones that don’t like you are good dogs. Miguel’s decided that I’m beneath him, but now he lets me take his picture without turning away, so we’re making progress. I’m fine being a beta to his alpha. He’s really handsome.

Aidan sitting next to the greyhound Miguel on Seed Shoppe’s red velvet sofa

This whole post is so damn earnest. I didn’t want to write about having a hard time being a person enduring/engaging in the politics and social movements of this present timeline, but it feels better to say it. I’m imagining you out there reading it like we did back in the old days of Google Reader and blogrolls, and maybe you’re thinking “me, too” and “my heart feels like this”, and this is a whispered secret between us that we’re humans who sometimes need to crawl back under the covers together and tell ghost stories to each other in the dark to make the light less scary.

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