The truth is no one really understood what happened back in 2006 rings in my head like the opening line from a narrator who was ready to tell some epic story. That thought would come back in various ways through drunken evenings or during the times farthest from. Near the tail end of the second year, that inner battle to piece together events still had no end and the truths were distorted through time and shifts in cityscapes. Some images took the entire passing of two years to become painfully clear with its scars that run deep. Day-to-day emotional falls play out like the complexity of a war and it's recurring theme of history repeating and the warnings they bring.
Three years later, I was trying to fight the feeling that I had put Mar through the awfulness I had experienced at the hands of my first love. Waiting for the train on a Saturday night before the final fireworks show in the summer, I watched a a girl and her man dance on the metro platform to "Heart's Arms" which was playing on my headphones. The approach of 5:30 am brought a walk through Parc Lafontaine listening to Beware which grew my senses and elation of knowing the painful things I may have done in a life other than my own wouldn't follow me when I returned home. The sun rise brought me back to the first night with Mar on the heels of January and the toes of February. This time it was warm and "Without Word, You Have Nothing" played as I walked in the middle Duluth's stone street glancing over to the nightly lovers saying goodbye at the sidewalk. I remember I planted a maple key earlier in the year that I had picked up on one of the parc's hill's and buried it in a small pot with little optimism. I was surprised when it grew from the soil without the perfect conditions or mixed up magic that I had trained myself to expect. Simple and mysterious: the earth, sun and water, the love, laughter and memories. I phoned Mar that evening with a quiver in my voice but full of purpose.
Tuesday night, I walked out of my apartment on my way to the movies when I noticed people on their four storey balconies all fixed towards something over the tops of the buildings that stood across the street. I followed their sight to the breathing of an orange ball that shot up its small children into the air. The embers faded away or fell behind the brick to where I could not see. Rounding the corner, sirens blared and truck after truck converged to this street corner shared by a stone church and a fruit market. With every step toward the gathering crowd, the fire breathed stronger and reached farther into the night sky. Mar phoned me at that moment asking me if I was playing a practical joke while she was home alone because a scary voice mail was left on her phone but it was hilariously obvious the culprits were her girlfriends or pranksters from far away. I tried to grasp this conversation while continuing to make sense of the street corner and the fire glow that loomed past the next laneway. No movie tonight.
The steady walk back to my apartment was filled with the checking my phone for the eventual call from the Red Cross. 150 firefighters were circling the five alarm blaze when I met with another volunteer and passed police, news reporters and the awe struck crowd into the blocked off area to get more information to relay to the inquiring evacuees that they may or may not be affected. White lights illuminated the street matching an unnerving movie set. We pushed through a wall of smoke that was billowing across the street and got showered by the crossfire of water. Endless hoses bordered the block and lined the roads and alleys that led from somewhere on the outside to the surreal centre of town. I felt on-edge to spot another set of motionless firefighters behind the smoke and darkness taking a rest from the heat. I explained a "what-to-do" list to a girl in her twenties and in my broken French, these words sounded alot like a recommendation for a new hairstyle. She started fixing up her hair and we shared a laugh when I caught on. Genuine moments continued on until 3am.
The quiet walk home was a mix of exhaustion and adreneline. It was then I read an email from my old friend Em from 2006 who wanted to hear the new stories and adventures of "Old Vish".