I’ve just been to a photoshoot for a couple contemplating upon marriage or rather a couple about to get married and I am waiting for the pictures to upload into my laptop and I am struck once more with the sinking feeling that I’ve just lost something.
Not something material, mind you but something much, much more. Like the time when you realize that you’ve lost your innocence when you realize that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. Or the moment, you lose your idealism when you find out that the world is mad and full of selfish, closeted people.
I was distracted for one. For a lot of reasons. My mom is going under the knife in a few days with the result up for anything is the foremost concern. She’s assured me it would go fine but there is no such thing as one hundred percent certainty in this world. A slip of a surgical blade…or a dire lab analysis is as much a possibility as a successful operation.
And then there was the sinking feeling that my life is still in chaos. That I am still grasping at straws without any specific purpose still in mind or a future goal in sight. I am standing on a shaky foundation to say the least and I can either find a sure footing or I can crash into the abyss far below me.
The day was a jumble of images. Church found me barely able to focus on the songs of praise and for the first time, I was rather critical of the logical lapses that Pastora had in her sermon. And I wondered whether my relationship with God bordered on hypocrisy knowing that I willfully turned my back on the possibility of becoming a man of cloth a few years back. I still had my doubts and my resentment towards the wolves that inhabit the church and indirectly to God, Himself.
And then there was that drive to Southwest for a welcome party for a visiting doctor. The drive at least gave me a few distractions – a few jokes shared about Toronto and Vancouver and a few jibes as to the rivalry between Edmonton and Calgary and about our newly wed driver and his month old married status.
And then it was back to the patio with tired men talking about jobs and where the higher pays are. A few laughs shared and a few frustrations from husbands and fathers trying to make sense of the busy life that dominates the Canadian experience. You can see it in their eyes, really, the cost of stress about family finances, lack of time to socialize and the pressures of work. Some could not hide a longing for simpler times – lower incomes perhaps but a much better time at a place that can no longer be called home.
Others showed insecurity and a hint of envy as they try to establish themselves. Like how and when one can afford a mortgage, or how one can finally say that one has made it. Those were the concerns hidden just underneath the playful banter and jokes. We are men, see…that’s how we do it.
And as usual, I was singled out at times, some exhorting me to enjoy to the fullest my bachelorhood and to do the things they could have done but now they couldn’t. Some exhorted me to marry but not for logical reasons but rather offering only the vague notion ‘that marriage is a fact of life’. Because the painful truth is that marriage is not as it is glorified to be. We singles place it high on a pedestal because we want it to be the answer to everything. That somehow marriage would make our lives better and that order will suddenly fall into place and that we have the ‘happily ever after ending’ that we dream of.
That’s the risk everyone takes in marriage. No one is spared.
Looking at the pics of the couple I photographed made me wistfully aware of the privilege that youth has – the idealism that still burns in the hearts of the young. Granted that they were sometimes self conscious (who wouldn’t be, lol with two photographers hovering around them snapping pics – and I a new acquaintance… hehe) But looking through the lens, I can see that sparkle that passes between them at times – those brief glances that hold a lot of feelings that words and pictures could never capture.
I ached for my lost youth and the uncertainty of the future. The words I had in my mind were stifled mostly and I couldn’t help but be embarrassed at my presence there. I felt like I was a stranger that have stumbled accidentally in a field of roses that I am no part of.
Life is rather cruel. I watched in silence as the unfolding tableau unrolled before me. I was mostly vaguely aware of my presence at times as thoughts raced along and my voice was silenced. The strains of a violin player and a guitarist, the playful gyrations of a bridge that for a moment had me believe I was about to faint – and the faint clicks of a camera taking pictures…
The gulf widens, it seems even when it appears to be coming closer. The idea that I held in my head is slipping away with the moments. I could feel that aspiration drift away and I am beset with the sinking feeling that I am powerless to stop it. That distance… that divide… I am left with only brief instances of stolen glances at a future that was never mine. And the silence is numbing.
I am a drifter in life. That much at least I am certain. The realization that I am going to be spending my life in constant transition like a vagabond guitar player living off a single suitcase relying on the vagaries of fate is sobering and rather sad. To have a never-ending supply of friends was no consolation to the greater possibility of a solitary journey ahead of me.
My aunts ganged up on me when I made the excuse to leave them for the photoshoot. They wanted me to take someone out to dinner for the purposes of marriage. I was rather surprised – shocked was the better word, I guess. The woman they had in mind was someone I respected as an older sister. I had no issues of age, mind you but there is something rather taboo with any kind relationship that resembled the nature of siblings. Like how a brother cannot breach the unseen walls of a sister even when there is no blood relationship there.
So I lied to my aunts and told them I had a girlfriend.
The day ended in a daze. I walked the length of Elbow Drive to the 24 hour store for a slurpee and plodded on the meandering backroads of Canyon Meadows to try and make sense of the rush of thoughts that engulfed me. I hoped for my mom to survive her operation and for me to sort myself out of this gray limbo that threatens to drown me. I prayed for clarity for a path that I can finally follow. I prayed for friends to find their happiness in life. I prayed for the happiness of the couple I took pictures of….for everyone’s smiles to happen
That friends were waiting for me at home to take me and my uncle fishing was another irony. We went to Glenmore and cast our lines in the gathering dusk. I watched them reel in their lines across the windswept lake. The cold wind nipped at me as I expended the last of my camera memory to take pictures.
A few gulls flew low… the guttural horns of a barge hooted a few times…
The irony is that I am crossing out a bucket list and I realize that I have lost something. And maybe I really am meant to be a lone traveler in life. Or maybe I am just too overwhelmed that I could not see what’s in front of me anymore… and maybe that feeling of loss is the beginning of a realization that a dream is slowly slipping away... and I pray to God in earnest that I won't lose it...