He used to sign his letters “Love always” then mid-way across the page, his first name in black ink; a giant “M” and the rest of it just looked like a wavy line with a dash that curved up, doubling back on itself and landing with a dot.
About every six years or so I take out the letters stamped in various international destinations – Norway, where he was from, and where he said he didn’t want to bring me. He thought I wouldn’t like the cold weather even though I was living in thirty-below zero temperatures in Montreal, where we spent our first few weeks together. I guess most decisions whether to go or not to go boil down to the weather.
He wrote from Belgium, where he spent two semesters at the Catholic University in Louven, and we sat on the hillside on a bench at the back of the town looking down against a Van Gogh Sky like a hundred lovers must have before us and bargained – from Indonesia, where he said he met a woman who reminded him of me, and Alaska, on visiting his brother Amund where he decided to set down his roots and raise a family. He always wrote, even if it was a poem – an aboriginal folk tale – about a wolf licking a knife and not realizing that the blood was pouring from it’s own tongue. Back then he was chasing me.
Loneliness is a monster. It chases me and runs me down, encircles me and taunts me. Loneliness is like an abusive lover; it beats me up and puts me down, and then fawns all over me, full of pity like it was sorry. And when it’s gone and left me, I want it back because it’s better than not feeling anything at all, than not having anyone at all.
by Cherryl Bird
Toronto, Ontario, Canada