Since my best intentions were derailed by the idiocy surrounding the engineer of the anti-gravy train yesterday, today I’m all about the shiny and happy and moving forward with something that, while continuing to stray from the ‘mandate’ of this here colemining, at least demonstrates the vital importance of story in my life.
So, although it seems an easy-out as far as posts go, here, for your edification- should you choose to continue to indulge me- is an excerpt from my NaNoWriMo project…
February 20, 2008
Under other circumstances the combination of fire and ice would have to be described as transcendentally beautiful. The flames licked the sides of the old buildings, and as painful as that was- especially for me, in love with things of age and grace- the water from the fire hoses freezing as it did into modern sculpture almost as quickly as it was expelled into the frigid February morning, had a grace of its own. Interesting. Twice in one sentence I use the word ‘grace’, and yet have no illusions that such a thing exists. Not knowing what I know, for as long as I have known it.
The glow illuminated the face of the one I love best, and as I stared at him, I realized that I’ve seen that exact expression before, under circumstances that were too much the same, yet completely different. Time plays such tricks, when you have lived through as much of it as I have. Nearly two thousand years separated the first memory from the latest. Fire, no ice, but the same look of despair and resigned acceptance haunting the features of his face, making his great beauty even more profound and seemingly fragile. Burning, in the name of gods and politics- nothing more or less than ideologies and ideologues- created by humans, for better or much, much worse. Same tune, different lyric. History repeating itself to the degree that it was practically foregone as a conclusion. Clichéd almost.
That first time, how many years had we passed together, only to separate for a time and be reunited in that great city? We were never long apart, yet that time marked the greatest estrangement, the most significant, and to be standing with him as the conflagration grew, as chaos reigned- although not to the sound of fiddle music as tradition and myth would have it- I remember being happy beyond expressing that I was with him again, yet unable to help being affected by the tragedy unfolding before us. He has always had that effect on me- to the point where I often can’t tell where my own feelings end and his begin. Such is the greatness of his empathy that it is so often projected onto to those closest to him. Whether he is aware of this power, I have never been sure.
Then, as now, the depth of sadness threatened to undo me. In one weaker- for all my human failings, the passage and lessons of time have brought a type of strength, at least- it would have overwhelmed, and the night’s madness would have claimed another victim. But we stood apart from the crowd, on the rooftop of his apartment, watching from a distance, as we had in Rome. To move forward, begin yet again- these were my thoughts as I focused on the activity below. We loved this city, this country, with its polite, tolerant people, beautiful landscapes and varied- if punishing at times- seasons. But cities come and go. There are other places that offer the promise of permanence, if not its realization. New cities suggested opportunity and the chance at new lives.
While his eyes remained dry, as always they betrayed pain that endured millennia, but for the first time I saw true despair and something even bleaker. For the first time in our enduring friendship I wondered if he would survive this latest blow. And since a world without him was unthinkable, I felt the first stirrings of my own mortality in years beyond counting.
Yes. The story is set in Toronto. I LOVE this town.
Lying, crack-smoking, ignorant mayors notwithstanding.