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chrysalis

A chrysalis (Latin chrysallis, from Greek χρυσαλλίς = chrysallís, pl: chrysalides, also known as an aurelia) or nympha is the pupal stage of butterflies. The term is derived from the metallic gold-coloration found in the pupae of many butterflies, referred to by the Greek term χρυσός (chrysós) for gold. […] Like other types of pupae, the chrysalis stage in most butterflies is one in which there is little movement. (wikipedia)

I woke up this morning and remembered not to fling my eyes open. My apartment for these days is heated by efficient electric radiators that dry out the air and my corneas don’t care for this environment, but I smear them with gel at night and cross my fingers in the mornings. Two weeks from today, I will wake up for the first time in my new house. In the meantime, I am here in Toronto, in a lovely nook of a lovely old house a few steps away from bakeries and falafel shops. Snow falls sparingly but swiftly and silently. Curls of steam rise from the pot of water simmering on the stove a few feet away.

The habits of three-quarters of a year are not easily shaken. I cough and cough, and check the temperature (-14C! 7F! Too damn cold no matter which scale you use!) and look out the window to gauge the snow. In my head, I thought I would spend these two weeks out in the city, tramping and traipsing, camera in hand. But this stupid cough is lingering and my chest is congested and I feel tired and guilty for not seizing every moment. Myron reminds me that I’m supposed to be decompressing now, and not worrying about what’s not getting done. I understand this in my brain, but I’m not sure how to go about it. The things I’d love to accomplish this year line up on a list like CGI soldiers in an epic battle scene, wound like springs and ready. The thought of outfitting the new house is ominous. Furnishing it? Paint colors? Where my desk belongs? I can’t imagine; I haven’t been inside it and I don’t know how low the ceilings feel or how the echoes will resonate or the angle of the incoming light through the windows and these qualities, the ones that cannot be articulated in any realtor’s listing, decide things for me more than the photos of lovely interiors I have saved to my hard drive.

And ah, the email reminder about trash pickup just hit my inbox. But it’s for Ottawa’s trash pickup, and I clicked unsubscribe and there is one more dividing line between there and here and the next there.

Since I was a teenager, guilt has been a constant companion. I have guilt over things I can control and things I can’t and things that other people should really own instead of me. Once I hit my late thirties I was more able to say fuck it and not let it overburden me as much as before, but even then, it’s not something I succeed at more often than I fail. I have worn a dent in my shoulder, carrying this guilt around like a bag of groceries. And I would like to say No More, but I know that in practice saying No More is one thing and living it is another. It would take more thoughtfulness than I think I have in me right now. So I will still carry some guilt because I have this dent in my shoulder that makes it hurt a little less than it might if I were not shaped to carry it. I will wear it on my hips and in the creases at the corners of my eyes and behind the light reflected in graying hair. I will make promises to myself and the people who have to deal with me about letting go of it, piece by piece, when I can. I’m not stupid enough to think I’m hiding it, nor am I willing to take on any more than I already have. Every time I put down one more bit of it, I’m going to stand up a little straighter. I may even have put a bit down right now, by writing this, and I may leave it here in this little apartment that held me like a golden shell during a time of little movement and frigid temperatures and waiting for wings.