I’ve struggled trying to think of something to talk about here, with you. Maybe you haven’t noticed my silent self sitting in your living room at the end of your sofa with a pillow tucked behind my achy back listening to your stories. You’re always so fascinating. I start to open my mouth and then clamp it shut suddenly shy and reluctant to share. Even a full-bodied glass of red wine can’t coax me to speak.
I’m reminded of tiny Dave Tuck, a full head shorter than me, who used to visit me in my frigid basement apartment near the Black Horse brewery on the shabby end of Circular Road in St. John’s, Newfoundland circa 1978. I knew Dave liked – probably lusted after – me but I had a complicated love-life at the time, the kind of complexity a 21 year old woman hasn’t enough experience to circumnavigate without a map. I was no Vasco de Gama though my romantic affairs felt Cape of Good Hope dangerous.
I had been seeing a city councilor 13 years older than me, dazzled by his man-about-town life and dinner parties with St. John’s political illuminati at a swanky house on the posh end of Circular Road. I was also corresponding with a former boyfriend who part of me still loved and couldn’t let go. To add further to the emotional chaos, I had just met my husband-to-be and the blast furnace intensity of my feelings for him scared me so much that when I finally admitted I loved him, I said “But don’t let it go to your head.”
Dave Tuck was the photographer of the university’s newspaper and that’s how we met. In the newspaper’s office he had lots to say with a wry quiet humour that engaged me. We bantered and enjoyed each other’s company in that office that smelled like a frat house. Knots of mostly young men, serious aspiring journalists, squeezed between empty mugs holding remnants of coffee and curdled milk, glasses half full of Coke, the fizz long gone, cigarette smoke, overflowing ashtrays, pencil shavings, chewed and spat out eraser bits, bad breath, licorice whips and empty bags of chips.
When Dave knocked at my basement door and kicked away a huge wedge of snow blown there by a relentless North Atlantic storm, I let him in. It was close to Christmas and the councilor and I had parted company. I’d written a final goodbye to my former boyfriend and I was stringing popcorn and cranberries for a Christmas tree adorned with paper snowflakes, some of my sparkly disco-diva earrings, and a few ornaments given to me by a friend. My one-day husband had flown home to Ottawa and I missed him like I missed heat in my apartment.
Expecting merry company from Dave, I let him in. It was also a question of survival. One of St. John’s epic storms was roaring across the Avalon Peninsula and I couldn’t send him away through the growing snow dunes. He plunked himself in my only armchair and sat silent as the frost on the inside of the windows, while I slid one cranberry, one piece of popcorn, one after the other onto thread. Without the buzz of the newspaper office, without his camera slung around his neck, Dave had little to say. The silence was as long as my strung popcorn and cranberries.
I offered him tea but I had no milk. I offered him rum but had no coke. I lit a cigarette and offered him one but he said no and politely asked if he could smoke a joint. Sure, sure, I said. So we toked, not talked. After a while I fell asleep beside the bowls of cranberries and popcorn. When I woke he was gone.
So, here we are, you and me, in a complicated blog dance. I like you, you like me – a little reciprocal, a little transactional. Lately, I don’t have much to say but regardless I’m still on your couch, sipping Ménage à Trois wine with you and that damn silent elephant – my blog.