009 | still on the hunt.

Every night I fill up the humidifier on my bedside table with a large plastic jug of water, up to the marked line indicated by a sticker holding up its own against the well of water and moisture, and have the same thought, “Sarah’s no longer alive. You won’t see her again.”

And every time my brain retorts, “Well, that’s absurd.

“But yea, that’s accurate.” And then I get scared.

Because it is so very absurd and it came true. Five months post-“the news that night,” six weeks of weekly therapy sessions in, I’ve gotten to a point where the daytime finally again has its distinction from the nighttime. The daytime, the lightness, the sun and even dark rainy clouds, offer the opportunity of time and space to focus on the here and now and do my taxes, the hunt for joy through collaborative fulfilling work, and feeling panic ease away as I engage in daily sessions of relaxation– Disneynature documentaries are the current drug of choice. Observing animal behaviour we’d ordinarily never otherwise have a chance to witness really drives home that oh-so-healthy notion of not being alone, that what we are and feel is universal, no matter how we all do it, and will continue to evolve and change, in that I won’t always be stuck in this glue.

But it’s that nightly routine of wrapping up our days and bringing it to a close, and we naturally incline towards an unconscious review of our day and assign a satisfactory grade or a disappointing sigh. An exuberant excitement in the past five months is something I’ve yet to etch into my brain during this examination period. And that’s a given. But it’s a yearning that’s popped up in the past week that I can’t seem to squash. Like a teasing ray of sunlight from between the cracks of heavy dusty window drapes that I can’t seem to locate in this room. I want to whip them open and feel excitement and love and a thrill that I know will be contrasted by the most depressingly low of the lows the following day– because that’s how I interpret my deservingness of joy, apparently; a mandatory immediate return to a balance of debts and credits. But I still want it. I’ve felt the lowest of lows, the bottom-depths of pressure exploding from within your temple kind of hell. And now I want the high. I want the high that makes those lows… not “worth it” but more… acceptable.

Because if anything, I know there’s a balance. That low I was at, it could not be sustained. That low might revisit me, no doubt it could, but my ultimate fairy-clouds hopes and dreams on Gumdrop Lane would be to have achieved and experienced a joy like none other before the next lowest of lows.

My last post (008) was me attempting this post and topic, but redirecting and ending in a quick joke. So I’m back, trying again. I want joy. I tried to find it in savoury puff pastries and Toblerone chocolate tortes and countless other delicious temporary hits. No. I’ve felt joy. That wasn’t it at all.

I listened to the recording of my set on my phone that I left with you. It was all of you laughing.

Cathy Boyd, after her stand-up set at Comedy Bar

Then I embarked on funny videos on the internet, a classic for a reason. I’ve gut-busted a few times and the fact that every instance of those belly laughs was a remarkable moment is depressing on its own, when you are in fact known within your comedy community as the one to invite to your show if you want the audience to immediately get on your side. Professional Laugher will likely be my backup career, that’s how loudly and easily it comes to me, to the dismay of my mouse-like parents (which they are not, so I don’t know where this detriment built from). Numerous times I’ve apologized to my colleagues for accidentally sitting next to the camera and almost making their footage unusable, but they swore I made it sound like the audience was completely onboard. I don’t know. I think most room acoustics and recording devices would prefer such outlier sounds be evened out by a mid-room placement. Yes, I will sit right up front in the first row and be your proud mama hen.

I heard your laugh after our first joke and immediately thought, “Oh, phew, Bree’s here! We’ll be fine.”

Rob Michaels, after sketch comedy troupe Woke ‘n’ Broke’s first Fringe performance

I want to feel good. I want to crave amazing something so badly.

Do you have images in your head of memories long gone… but they’re of scenes from books you read (or fanfic) or TV shows (or fanfic)? Might not even be a significant scene, but the rush of memories you feel from the emotions tangled up in the tiny details of how a character stood, not knowing what to do with their arms, or an overarching theme of implications of the moment. Sometimes it feels easier to revisit Sarah through those scenes. It’s got me hunting for an Ugly Betty fanfic about her loving the heck out of an ugly blue and yellow sweater that Daniel loathes, then comes around to loving because it simply makes her happy. I think it’s gone, taken offline in the decade since I absorbed the images into my cortex through incessant re-reads. But I just have to accept it. I have to accept that I won’t have certain things in my life again. I have to accept that my most enthralling and weirdest and fulfilling relationship ever took a nightmare of a detour, dragged eighteen months, and then before even a hint of closure or a gift of resolution could be felt through her own unique Sars-like ways, she died. Of all the loved ones grieving this human, how am I the one left with this particular mess. I don’t get why, after decades of cherishing this human, I’m left holding this godawful bucket of vile fish heads gaping up at me in horror and fear, all wondering the same, why the fuck did this happen to me.

-The way to repair a rupture-- in your case, a massive gaping hole-- in your fabric is through communication, leading to receiving an apology.
-What happens when the person is mentally not able to and you know it so you were never expecting it. Or, what happens when the person dies?
-Then... well, ideal would be communication--
-What happens when they die.
-You accept it.

Sourcing out joy, v.2.0 didn’t pan out. I’ll try again in a future post. For now I’ve got a flock of flamingos to go get lost in on the Disney+ app.

Oh no, I just noticed you’re filming. Should I move?

Me

001 | i’m not okay.

The summer of 2002, my cousin Sarah and I were 17-year old losers at life, heading off to undergrad. Her with a streak of “bad behaviour” (smoking, drinking, loitering), me with undiagnosed and neglected depression (wait, that might have been both of us…) and a strong case of too-shy-to-live-life. It was during a family dinner party (otherwise known as a “dawat” to the South Asian kids) that I let out the secret that for the past few months… I had been writing a *gasp* blog. Shhh.

Sarah being Sarah, got me to let her read it. And my heart swelled when this cousin of mine, too cool for school– too smart for school, really– enjoyed my thoughts, my writing, my humour, and even my topics. I think one of them was about Olympic diver Alexander Despatie. The swimmer bod, what can I say. The larger point of interest for me might have actually been the Olympics. His sweet shaggy boyband hairstyle was just a nice touch in the utopia landscape of long-term dreams being actualized.

So off we went with this secret online portal opened up to us, linking us forever onwards. She to the University of Toronto, me to Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo. We shifted over to the Xanga blogging platform (RIP) and thus became daily bloggers, catching up on the exciting mundane of each others’ lonely lives. Her charisma and long-honed skills as a loiterer had prepared her to make conversation with any person she stood next to. I, however, struggled greatly. Lacking an interest in pub crawls despite my fake ID procured by my most innocent-seeming friends (to parents; a hijab doesn’t make you blind to how to the world operates for a 17yr-old surrounded by 19yr-olds), I mostly kept to myself and volunteered at the campus health resource centre. Please attempt to string together a more heartbreaking image. Not even the campus clinic. The health resource centre. Future Coachella attendees attempting vegetarianism for the first time somehow located the weird turn into the hidden entrance to our office and wandered in for generic pamphlets and appointments with an occasionally on-site nutritionist. The cool kids freaking out over STI’s rightly took their misinformed butts up to the actual clinic staffed by real medical professionals.

But through this all, I had my person. Through our blogs, texts, that new-fangled The Facebook thing, MS Paint collabs, mailed correspondences in code (have you ever written out English in Russian characters?), random trips to each other, 8+ hours on the phone overnight watching the latest Alias episode torrents microscopically-slowly download to our computers (uni kids didn’t budget for cable)… she was mine, I was hers. And we never let up. Props to that first Blogroll blog of mine for our sweet lil’ meetcute that transitioned us from cousins to BFFs/partners/twins.

The stuff I didn’t think I’d get around to thinking about for at least another thirty years.

We lost her five months ago. December 6, 2020 is when we all got the call through our family telephone tree. My brother got to tell me. He got to tell me that the person who has been the longest relationship of my life (so far), the most meaningful (so far), over half of my life (so far), the most impactful. Yea, that person, is gone. My partner doesn’t exist on this earth anymore.

Of course this intro here to Sarah is only the beginning of everything, but it’s also a start towards laying it out there: That I’m not okay. It’s fitting that my Sars left during the COVID-19 pandemic, but not due to covid. I guess. It’d be funny and incredibly interesting to her. Maybe we shouldn’t have given her that nickname on that cousins’ Montreal road trip during the SARS pandemic in Toronto.

It’s five months down the road and it’s only now in mid/late-April that I even remotely feel like I can take a full deep breath of air and not feel like I’m attempting to stand up straight on a crumbling shaky foundation. But not always. My brain doesn’t really get how life just ends at 35 despite knowing that people die all the time. Why I’m supposed to just carry onwards with the rest of my life when I’m still floundering here. Why I shouldn’t just cash out my RRSP and go nuts until there’s nothing left to lose. Therapy’s helping bit by bit to get me to open up and process. Talking about Sarah helps. Holding her things helps. And sometimes I really like zoning off to think about moments with her. The stuff I didn’t think I’d get around to thinking about for at least another thirty years. She was really fun and incredibly special. Her generosity, enthusiasm, her ferocious attack on living life to her own standards. I’ll forever be in awe of this force I got to call my own person. All thanks to a dumb blog with lime green headings.

So, here I go again.