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five from ottawa

My shoulder is at about 85%. This week is one where I have to use it extensively—I have to finish packing, and more than just a box or two at a time. The shoulder will also have to support me while I lie on my side to paint the baseboards in the entry and in the entire upstairs (three bedrooms and a bath). The sight of those baseboards over the past two months has been an indictment every time I looked at them. My ice packs are back in my freezer, just in case I beat myself up a little too much. Myron reminds me that there is no rush here, but I am sick of this purgatory, of not knowing when we will move or where or how much it will cost us. The morning chill and yellow leaves in the yard remind me of what’s coming. No one in their right mind wants to move into Winnipeg after the snow has started.

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Myron does not have a Don Draper drawer. I have put off packing his office until the end because I wanted to preserve his privacy, even though there is almost nothing there to hide. A few years ago, a friend of mine lost her husband very young, and it was impossible for me to keep from imagining myself in her position, especially with the treacherous road Myron took to bike to work. I pictured myself opening a sticky, stubborn drawer of his massive desk and hearing it bark in protest that its master was gone. Now I open the drawers and wonder if any stray papers are things that I was never supposed to see. The Lifetime Drama subroutine in my brain says Gentle Man! So indulgent, so in love! Nothing to hide, not ever! Then it plays soap-operatic flights of music as Lifetime Drama subroutines do, and I think This is why the secret is always SO gutwrenching. Then I remember who I married and who I am, and I put the things in boxes and wrap them up with tape.

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The rain started late Friday night. Saturday morning I woke up early to a pearly gray dawn. Three hours later, it looked the same, as if time had stopped. Five hours later, six, and still the opalescent light. Everyone hid in their homes, and the park was silent. Everything was silent, really, except the rain against the shingles and eaves. I realized that I have been waiting for a rain like this, an all-day soul-soaking rain, for months now. Something in me is breathing more easily, and something else feels washed away.

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Wrapped around the capable, functional, washed-clean core of me is a double helix of panic and inevitability. Whichever crisis rises, it is immediately put down by remembering that everything is an eventuality. The house will be sold, the move will take place, it will all happen no matter how badly I might mess anything up. (Did I ever tell you about the time we filled out a form in pencil and the government employee called us you stupid kids?) It would be really great if the inevitability would hang around so that the panic would stop foaming up. I need an older gentleman, someone in his seventies who smells like coffee and mothballs, to chuck me on the shoulder and ask me what I’ve got to worry about, maybe call me toots or missy.

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Maybe I should be doing more Breathing In of the Air and Appreciation of the World Around Me. Doing more mindful eating instead of eating quick half-meals, taking more photographs. Maybe I should even be trying harder to sweep aside the clouds in my crystal ball and getting a better vision of what’s to come. Not doing this feels like yet another failure, though, and right now I am trying not to be hard on myself about failures. I am trying to be an accepter and say yes, that happened and trying not to dwell. I dwell, though. I am down in it. I feel completely alone. And then in his drawer, where I try to be careful with things without being nosy, I see a photo of myself, and I wonder how I could have ever felt alone, ever, ever.

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