What Can I Say?


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.

33 thoughts on “What Can I Say?

  1. So, how the hell did I miss this one? Oy! Dammit woman, if you don’t sit yourself down and write the bloody novel that’s been festering in your brain all these years, I may have to book a seat on a flight to your end of the Earth and camp out on your lawn until you finish it. You’ll know I’m there because I’m an extremely messy camper; I make noise and leave trash lying about; I mutter and rave and carry on while I’m crafting my own written nonsense, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop annoying you until you’re done. Geez.

    You have the kind of writing skill too many of my students would kill to acquire, if only if were that easy. Focus, please. Continue to use your blog as an outlet, but don’t let it be your “only” outlet. WRITE THE GODDAM BOOK ALREADY!

    Much love and happy new year. Now, get busy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh, your kind words and support for my writing are so appreciated. If I can find your email, I’ll send you a longer reply. Happy New Year to you, too!


  2. Susanne, all your readers and the ones who commented had the words to respond to this post. I enjoyed reading it and all I can say is have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year!! Looking forward to more posts……

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a nice interlude of time reading this. Of course, my favorite part is decorating your tree with disco-diva earrings. 🙂 I’ve been intermittently assessing my blog lately (and appreciate all the comments that came before me on this post), wondering who that person was who wrote such earnest pieces of substance. I do appreciate your continuing to drop by and read my nonsense.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My God, I love your writing. You string ordinary words together but something extraordinary comes out … like “I was no Vasco de Gama though my romantic affairs felt Cape of Good Hope dangerous” or “the silence was as long as my strung popcorn and cranberries”.

    I wonder if this blogging malaise is something that’s contagious right now. I too feel like I’m starring into a great void of blogging nothingness. The beauty however is that neither of us have to brave a North Atlantic storm to sit down with a glass of wine (or coffee in my case since it’s 7 am) and be silent together.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for the writing encouragement, Joanne. This post flowed fast yesterday morning. I wish all writing was as easy and posts practically wrote themselves. Of course, the Vasco de Gama reference arose from our recent trip to Portugal and the maritime museum in Belem. Travel is a great writing accelerant!

      You have good reason to be absent what with the loss of all your equipment so I’m surprised – but enormously pleased – that you read this and chimed in.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. We were online at the same time yesterday. I read your post the instant you pressed the publish button. I smiled, and nodded, and giggled and marveled, but do you think I could gather my thoughts into a coherent sentence?


    Is it like that for you, too?

    Cheers, Suzanne – enjoy the wine, enjoy the season, and enjoy the silence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You nailed the feeling of “what to say” perfectly for this blog reader. I promise myself after reading someone’s post to ponder and go back with a thoughtful comment but darn-it sometimes the thoughtful comment doesn’t arise.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I look at that photo and marvel. Was that really me? I don’t intend to abandon the blog but I find myself writing more and more off-line. I think this is a good evolution, wherein I find satisfaction in the act of expression without seeking validation. Some of the stuff I send out looking for external homes but often I just feel good when I write, tighten and polish just for the sheer joy of doing it. I didn’t know this was possible. So that’s a good thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is a very good thing! I guess I just fought so many battles with trying to get my books published that the blog has been like a miracle for me. I certainly won’t give up on my urge to write outside cyberspace, but for now I’m happy to continue my activism in this venue. Wherever you choose to write, I know it will be powerful and challenging for your readers.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m glad you let Dave in. He is a good photographer.

    Earlier today I read my one-year-old post and was amazed at the ease, warmth and spark of how I addressed you, my readers. As if somebody else wrote that. In a way, she did. We go through changes that are faster and more dramatic as we go, and we do what we can.

    I liked reading this and seeing your bright eyes. You still have them, you know.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dave was (maybe still is?) an excellent photographer. His lens definitely spoke for him.

      Its interesting to go back and read old posts to see how our writers’ voices change. A really insightful comment about how we change and how it is visible in our writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You’re one of those people who is even more attractive now. You’re cute then, but you’re stunning now. Same bright smile, too. Still look like fun.
    Anyway, I can’t string cranberry and popcorn, because dog. But I did several times when I was younger.
    I actually wanted a basement apartment. It had lots of brick and exposed beams, terracotta tile, and one lil radiator. I was alone in my desire.
    I marvel that your 1978 love life so closely resembles my love life circa 1998.
    I’m quiet lately, too. I write and don’t post. I’ll get to it. One day.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What an extraordinarily kinds thing to say, though I harken back to your recent post about looks being the least of our qualities one should cultivate. I look at the photo, like I look at vacation shots from days gone by. Was I really there? As to the basement apartment, that was the basement apartment to end all basement apartments. Dave fit in there well because of the low ceiling. My 6′ tall husband had to duck thru doorways and the councilor couldn’t stand upright. I used to study in the kitchen with the oven on and my feet resting on the open door, it was that damn cold.

      Oh, the love and times of the young woman. I’m amazed I survived it. Glad you did too, Joey.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Funny where the mind goes of a morning when you’re sipping coffee and contemplating the loss of words. I haven’t thought of that short, chaotic period of my life in decades and who should pop up amidst the chaos? Dave Tuck. Odd, that.

      Liked by 1 person

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