“I wonder if I will be happy with a new life, one that I can’t focus on now. I wonder how long my thoughts and actions will run free in this city until I am fulfilled.”

– Journal entry, May 7th, 2001

I’d forgotten how used to things I’d wanted to get. I’d wanted things to click right away, and I became impatient and worried when they didn’t. My first week in and I was freaking out over how strange it all seemed, being in a brand new city. I’d wanted Ottawa to be home immediately. Twenty-one years into life and every day a decade.

Looking at the front porch, I recall a nervous stomach ache.

It changed things. The world fell into place.

I was far enough away to start smoking. On late nights I’d creep out to the bench in the back field, listen to the crickets, count the stars and watch the TVs flash and glow blue in the bedroom windows of the houses opposite. Shoulders hunched and always, always deep in thought, never understanding the idea of nine years from now. Not much has changed. Except the smoking.

Yesterday, Ottawa was enveloped in the smell of burning forests.

I put things in boxes and label them. That’s all this is – taking the past nine years, affixing labels, nodding my head and stacking them away for safekeeping. I took a long walk in old neighbourhoods the other day and thought. Got that ghostly feeling of being in a place I don’t belong in anymore – “no trespassing” signs that spoke to me instead of strangers. That house isn’t mine. It’s a monument playing tricks and whispering songs.

So much of looking back isn’t entirely fair to myself, to others. For that, I apologize.

To the night another body
To the night another name
To the night another valentine
A burning flame

Bits of lyrics. About places, people, the little shoots of memory. I think that’s fair.


About Joel Crary

Joel Crary is a 30'ish 21st century writer living in Vancouver, British Columbia. He enjoys films, mostly. View all posts by Joel Crary

3 responses to “2001

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