Here’s a thing I wrote.  More are here:


Kerry and I are sitting with our bare feet hanging over the edge of the cliff, watching the sun sink into the sea.  We are so high up that the kids walking along the beach don’t notice us as they start trundling along below us.  I figure they are about twelve or thirteen, but it’s a bit hard to tell from this distance.

Slowly they walk along, making a concerted effort not to really look at each other.  She keeps watching the waves churn onto the sand.  He is mostly watching the ground in front of them.  They are obviously having the sort of earth rending conversations that only teenagers can manage, and the drifting murmur of their voices is scattered across long pauses and evening winds.

She is very deliberately swinging her arms.  The boy steps with each swing, like it’s a metronome.  His right hand clenches into a fist, and then stretches wide and starts to move out toward her pendulum fingers.  Just before they touch, he draws back.

Kerry confirms my suspicion that the girl knows.  She is waiting for him to stop her overly exaggerated swing, but he is not brave enough or wise enough to read the signals.

I agonize for him.  I was twelve the first time I fell in love.  He can’t stop thinking about her and he doesn’t know what to say to her.  She is waiting for him, and in his head, he knows it must be true.  Every time he reaches to her though, the intensity of first love, the all-consuming, entirely confusing need he feels for her is too much.  There is no way she could want him to hold her hand as much as he wants to hold hers.  It is entirely impossible, and when their skin meets, he now knows she will recoil.  He has to pull back, so he can hold on to hope for a moment longer.

All the while, she keeps waiting, as consumed and confused as he is, wanting and waiting.  He never comes right out and says he loves her, never touches her except by accident, leaving her certain that she is imagining all the times it almost happens.

When I was twelve, I pulled back one time to many, and my first love moved away.

I reach out and squeeze Kerry’s hand, for the boy I was, for the boy below, and hope he is a braver child than I.

Published in: on January 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm  Comments (4)  
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Love and Night Driving

I miss driving at night and being in love.

Backing up a step, I’ve just recently gotten a car again.  I have been, for the most part, vehicle-less since I returned from Japan.  I probably could have gotten one sooner, but I wanted to wait until I could afford one I love.  And I love my new car.  I’m readjusting to the freedom, to the larger range of my life, and the new options.  I’m also being reminded of things I miss.

I used to have something of a preference for long distance relationships.  See, I like my space, often several hundred kilometres of it.  I like the idea of everyone in the relationship having their own  very separate lives, that coincide when we plan for it.  Specifically, I want her to have an awesome life full of cool things, while I play video games and watch DVDs, and then we spend our weekends together.

I miss driving at night, a dark highway interrupted by clusters of street lights.  It’s an amazing feeling, flying across the deserted world, singing along with a radio turned up way to loud.  Somewhere, down that fading ribbon of road, there’s an amazing, beautiful woman waiting for me.

Because if you lived more than an hour away, and I was willing to repeatedly drive an hour to see you, you were both amazing and beautiful.  I those are kind of my requirements for an exclusive relationship; spectacular, gorgeous, and at least 60 minutes away from the rest of my life.

It is hard to find a time when you feel more in love; it has been days since you last saw her, everything you are doing, you’re doing for her, and she is just as excited about it as you are.  I miss that rush, that roaring, wild drive to fall down with someone who was worth the wait.

As a side note, if any woman who lives within say, 100 to 250 kilometres of Calgary, who is at least an 8 out of 10, who is absolutely fascinating, and happens to be single, I’m available for love-struck drives to your bedroom.

8s will need to provide the ingredients for breakfast, but I’ll still cook it, because I should bring something to the relationship.

Pieces of Me

I have never had an angry break-up.  When I leave a girl, it’s always a sad affair, and it always seems to end the same way.

The choices I’ve made always seem to tear me away from some cute girl I love.  It’s never about us, it’s something I have to do.  My fragile ambition is always stronger than my fractured love.  I always hate losing her, but I have to go.  It’ll be pre-dawn, in her dark bedroom.  It’s always her room.  I always go to them, afraid of what they’ll see if they come to me.  No one says much, all the desperate, tearful goodbyes spit out in the dead of night.  We’re both emotionally exhausted, physically drained, and ready to be alone with ourselves.  It’s too hard to see each other, so the lights stay off.

I gather up the last debris I have scattered, and grab a packed bag.  I’m always going far away, too far for us to stay us.  There’s a few whispered words of regret, and a last embrace that lasts a moment too long, making me believe that I could just stay, that everything could revert, that I can still chose love over life.

But the bell’s been rung, and you can’t un-ring a bell.  Staying would make things worst.  Now, I need to go.

There’s always a song.  Maybe it’s Leonard Cohen’s Chelsea Hotel #2 playing on her radio, admitting what we had was always futile.  Maybe it’s Josh Ritter’s Last Temptation of Adam in my car as I drive away, a constant worry that if we had been comfortable, we wouldn’t have been us.  Sometimes the song isn’t something poignant, or related, but it remains forever hers.

I drive into that highway sunrise, lost in the song, lingering in the last kiss.  Some part of me always wants to turn back, instead of heading to that burning beacon of all the long lonely days without her.  Some beautiful lie, some excuse as to why I’ve returned; I left something behind.

There’s a piece of me still with her. 

And the mistake I always make, months or years later, is the belief that I could go back for it.  I dream that the memory of me is still shining in some lost corner.  Somehow, I’m always wrong.  I’ve remembered things too … too far from what they were.  I go back, and try to make reality conform to my vision of the past.

I think I can have back that piece of me.  But it wasn’t mine, not when I went out that door.  It’s hers, and she can do with it what she likes, but it’ll never be part of the me that’s come back for it.

The lesson I never seem to learn is that when you go away, you’re gone.

I like to imagine

On certain nights, I like to imagine there is a girl, waiting.  She stands on a footbridge, clenching an overcoat that is just a little too large for her.  Under the cone of the street light, she pretends the cold that flushed her cheeks doesn’t bother her.  The wind picks up a little, and her fist clenches tight on the front of her jacket.  Hair whips across her face, but she waits for the gust to die down before she combs it back in place with her free hand.

A mist surrounds her, an icy frame on the edges of the electric halo of the lamp above.  It rolls over the parts of the river below, steaming up where the last rivulet of moving water runs.  She stares out into the darkness, her eyes the warmest part of her tiny winter world.

Absently, she lets lose her lapels, and rolls up the sleeve of the jacket to glance at her watch.  Her mouth tightens, maybe in concern, maybe in disappointment.  She shivers slightly and leans forward.  With her elbows on the railing of the bridge, she hums softly to herself.  She watches the steam on the free-flowing water, and glances at the edge of the bridge.

I know she’s waiting for me.  She doesn’t need me, but she’d like me to be there.  She’s just about ready to go on, but she lingers a little longer, absorbing the cold.  She doesn’t need me, but she still hopes I’ll show up.

She’s trapped somewhere, in my mind’s eye, on this little bridge.  I think about her every once in a while, on a cold night.  Sometimes I wonder if she’s waiting there, wanting me to follow her, and find her story.  I’m afraid to take her across the bridge.

The moment I do, I admit I made her up, that the girl isn’t waiting for me.  I’m not quite ready to say goodbye, in case she’s out there somewhere, waiting on the bridge, staring at the watch, hoping I walk into the scene to say hello.

Published in: on February 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Renegade Folk Heroing

I realize we are about a month into this blog, and I haven’t really defined what Renegade Folk is.  A lot of people who followed me from Livejournal, or all the way back from Myspace, before the whores took it over, have heard it before.  But it’s a living philosophy, so it changes, and I’m going to tell it differently here than I have before.  We’re going to follow it from its most distant roots. 

Let’s start with me as a kid, about 12 or 13.  At this point I was a hopeless romantic, and I’m comfortable blaming society for it.  I was starting to really take an interest in girls, and the models I had for that interaction were cultural.  I thought love was like the movies. 

Take, for example, Disney’s Aladdin. 

All smug there on his rug
All smug there on his rug…

It was released in 1992, so I was probably 10 years old when I saw it.  Aladdin meets a girl for all of five minutes, and they have an engaging conversation.  He builds a whole fake life to be perfect for her.  She finds out, feels betrayed, but then he kills a giant snake and she takes him back. 

That’s the set of expectations I was working with.  If you talk to a cute girl, and you feel any minor connection or have any interest in anything she says, that’s enough to fall in love.  You then have the right, no, the responsibility, to do whatever it takes to be near her, so she can realize she loves you back.  If she finds out you’ve been faking perfection, or is in any way not interested in you, all you really need to do is perform some over the top romantic gesture, and you are guaranteed to win her heart. 

It doesn’t matter that she doesn’t know you.  It’s fine you lied the entire time she’s known you, and pretended to be something you were not.  It doesn’t matter that you don’t fit her life, that you are completely unsuited for her, or that she’s never considered even the possibility of a romantic entanglement with you.  If you can prove you’ve loved her since that first slightly interesting conversation, as insignificant as it may have been for her, she will love you back.  She has to, because of how hard you loved her, and that you proved it.  Those are the rules. 

Now that I’m older, I know not to form my values on what Disney teaches me.  Then, it seemed reasonable.  I mean, Aladdin is friends with a monkey, and that’s cool.  I used Aladdin as an example, but any T.V. show or movie or book I saw at the time reinforced a similar model of relationships. 

Needless to say, my heart was broken a couple of times.  I would be too deeply in love with some cute girl, because I didn’t really require her involvement before the big gesture.  Then I would do something stupid, like sing her a Bryan Adams song, and be shocked she didn’t have an epiphany and come running to my arms.  Fuck, I just told her “Everything I do, I do for you.”  How could she not? 

I mean, I stole words from this guy!

I mean, I stole words from this guy!


After a few too many failures, I became a Cynic.  Everyone knows life is not a John Hughes movie, but I was bitter about it.  I was certain there was something wrong with the girls who rejected me.  They were the ones not following the rules.  You know, those sacred rules Hollywood taught me. 

And I was pissed at the people who told those stories.  I would drink while watching romantic comedies, and when they hit their lowest point, I would turn off the movie and announce “That’s how it works in real life.  The end.”  I would then go to bed.  My friends though it was funny and terrifying. 

I would still have one conversation with a cute girl, and fall in love with an imaginary perfect version of her.  I just wouldn’t do the big gesture.  I would be pissed off she didn’t love me back, but I no longer even tried to tell her.  You know, during my most mature phase. 

Then I was burned by eleven litres of hot deep fryer oil.  Literally.  I had second degree burns on my arms and face, and due to the constant pain, I was certain I was scarred for life.  It didn’t happen, but the constant agony and the odd texture of the healing skin made it seem like a certainty to my laboured brain. 

Assuming I was now the Phantom of the Opera,

Burn face phantom, not sexy mask phantom...

Burn face phantom, not sexy mask phantom...

and no one could love my face (because I’m seriously that shallow), I stopped caring about cute girls.  They were there, but it didn’t matter what I did, I was off the docket.  Suddenly, I relaxed around them.  I treated them like people, instead of objects of wonder.  I didn’t have complex agendas.  I didn’t try to live a perfect life before them, I just did what I felt like doing.  I stopped ensuring I never contradicted them, but called them on their bullshit and mocked them like I did with everyone else.  When I said whatever I felt like saying, suddenly they were interested in me.

Instead of returning to old patterns, I developed a new philosophy, and started calling it Renegade Folk Heroing.  While a lot of it comes out as “Follow your dreams,” and “Enjoy the little things,” being me, it’s still mostly about love.  Or at least lust, which wasn’t okay for Hopeless Romantics or Cynics, but Renegade Folk Heroes are allowed sex with no attachments, as long as everyone knows that’s what’s happening.  There’s also a lot of drinking, but it’s happy, joyful drinking, not bitter, how can this be my life drinking.  

Basically, it looks like this:

But I still lie about being able to play the guitar.


and it breaks down like this:

Renegade: This is the do what you feel like doing segment.  Don’t worry about what’s normal, or expected.  It’s better to be weird and happy then normal and miserable.  If everything you do is planning for tomorrow, what if you don’t make it there.  Enjoy what today has to offer too. 

Folk: Everyone is just people.  Cute girls aren’t different, except visually.  If someone hurts you in any way, it’s generally about them and their shit.  She didn’t break your heart because she hates you.  She did it because she was broken, and you should just move on.  Everyone is the same, and use that to understand why they do what they did. 

Heroing: Temper the first two with this aspect.  Don’t hurt people while doing whatever you want whenever you can avoid it.  Be honest.  If you aren’t proud of something you’re going to do, why are you doing it?  You better have a good reason.  Don’t let other people’s shit bring you down, but don’t let them drown in it either. 

Renegade Folk Heroing is for Hopeless Romantics the world broke.  When they’re done being miserable about it, and get over Cynicism, there’s still enough good left to enjoy, and if you’re lucky, protect.