Keep a diary for any length of time and some funny coincidences have a way of emerging. Certain dates seem to become almost talismanic over time.
June 11th is one such day for me. I've told its story here: the story of a road not taken, and then, exactly ten years later, the story of another road I did take. Every June 11th I reflect on Darlene and what might have been, and also on Eva and what was and is. (I do that last every day of the year).
Facebook has this neat feature called, variously, "Memories" or "On This Day"--what it's called seems to changed based on how and when you log into the site. Most of what you share on Facebook on the given date is served up on a giant plate of nostalgia.
Today's plate promised to be tasty. I didn't realize how tasty.
EIGHT YEARS AGO: AUGUST 16, 2010
Some people have peripheral roles in your life, and yet shape you far out of proportion to the time you spend with them. Justin Beyerle is one of those people for me.
I still see him very occasionally, as in once a year or less, stopping in at the store I haven't worked in for eight years now. He still recognizes not only me, but also Eva, every time. It's astonishing that he can do that. But that's Justin: a people person through and through.
I've told the story of what he did here: he convinced a floor hockey team made up of people who didn't know me from a hole in the ground to let me score a goal on them.
I never did find out what he said to them. I never will. In the end, it doesn't matter. He gave me a moment I will remember forever. It was just a silly floor hockey game that meant nothing, but the gesture...meant everything.
I'd like to say I never misplaced the powerful wave of I must be worth something that Justin gave me. But that would be a lie.
FOUR YEARS AGO: AUGUST 16, 2014
It had barely been a month since Sobeys had laid me off. Had told me that "it's nothing personal, just a business decision" and personally escorted me out of the business.
I know now that they had done this the shortest-tenured top-paid employee in each store. From a purely business perspective, it makes sense: shortest-tenured so the severance could be minimized, and paid at the pay ceiling for the position so labour savings could be maximized.
I was bitter about it. Retail was all I'd ever known in my adult life. I was making damn good money for a non-managerial position, too. Until one day out of the blue I got bounced.
They'd done me a favour: rather than pay out a huge lump sum in severance, they simply kept me on the payroll, didn't schedule me, but compensated me as if they had. This reduced my income tax burden considerably.
It also didn't give me any motivation to go out and find a new job. In hindsight, that was a huge mistake on my part.
On the one hand, a summer off with pay was lovely. On the other hand, I have four fingers and a thumb.
You people working retail....you know how customers see you as walking store directories at best and personally responsible for every out-of-stock in the store at worst? You'd never imagine you'd miss those people if they were all suddenly removed, would you?
You do. You miss your co-workers and your customers (even the ugly ones) and every other human being you used to come in contact with. If you have a depressive personality, as I do, the loneliness is crushing.
One of the true horrors of depression is that it feeds on itself. You don't want to do anything about it because that takes effort and you don't have the energy. Maybe you muster some up and call a friend, and if that friend's busy with something (because we're all busy with things), you take it personally, as a strong indication that nobody likes you and everybody hates you. Somewhere deep inside there's a voice saying that's not true, you know that's not true, and people can even SHOW you it's not true, and yet you still feel so empty and so you just hate yourself more.
That slippery slope was just getting well and truly greasy and I made one titanic effort to turn it around by doing two things I swore up and down for at least twenty years that I would never do: I got inked and holed. (If you haven't seen me in the flesh, there are pictures of my flesh there.)
My tattoos were very carefully chosen, the products of years of thought. The piercing was almost spur of the moment in comparison, and meant nothing, and its meaninglessness was overflowing with meaning. As I wrote a week later,
With apologies to the late George Carlin: Why? Because. Just because. 'I'm going to make an eighth hole in my head and put an ornament in there and people will have to deal with me.' The idea that I could be somebody to be dealt with, that was new.
Very new. And sustaining, for awhile. It would have been better to deal with myself first, though. It eventually took an antidepressant called Trintellix, coupled with reams of love and support from Eva, to pull me out of the mental crevasse.
Those tattoos, though: I still look at them, every day, and I think about them. Love without limits, and fears conquered. I'm so glad I have them. I will get more.
TWO YEARS AGO: AUGUST 16, 2016
...I met an online friend for the first time. You may know her. First name Kathy. Last name Morris. I'd been talking to her online for five months at this point; we were instantly comfortable with each other.
Oh, hell. I was in love with her. Patently ridiculous to be in love with somebody I'd never met. Doubly insane since she had a partner. Triply insane because I had one and while I could tell Kathy had the kind of open heart and open mind that would allow her to succeed at polyamory....she'd never even heard of it before. And for damn sure her partner wouldn't take to it.
This was all discussed and understood by both of us.
So we met as friends, for dinner, at Jack's, a restaurant close to my home. Delicious food, and lots of it. The free-flowing ease of conversation and instant sense of comfort translated into real life.
And we went for a walk, as friends, in the park across the street from me. Short walk, idyllic dusky weather, and two new friends who would, in due course, be partners.
I didn't know that then. I couldn't have known that then. Kathy was still in her cocoon. And although I can't deny I loved her from the start, it was precisely that love for her that prevented me from 'steering' things. Our relationship would either grow or it wouldn't; that was always and forever her choice.
Eventually she chose. And here we are.
I wonder what future August 16ths have in store.