Happy birthday, Emily had said.
Before I met Emily, I hadn’t celebrated my birthday in a few years. She had known me two weeks, and there she was in my office with a silly party hat on, carrying a chocolate cake with one candle in it. Little did she know I was lactose intolerant.
Emily designed her own cards. One valentine’s, she sent me one that said - the beauty of art is that it is one moment that lasts forever, the beauty of life however, is that it is a collection of moments that don’t. Share your moments with me?
Emily was young and fresh out of Art College. She was meant to say pretentious things.
My first date with Emily was a weekend trip to New York. I was out to impress. We ate in a Brazilian restaurant, the name of which I still can’t pronounce, even to this day. They served us large slabs of meat on wicked looking swords and immersed us in all the exotic atmosphere the amazon had to offer. We watched Phantom of the Opera from seats in a fully reserved box including complimentary champagne and to seal the deal, I offered to hire out a separate room for Emily at the Millennium Broadway when we returned from our night out. I don’t deny that my bank card was relieved, as merrily, she declined.
Later that night, holding her hair back as she looked into her slightly tarnished reflection in the toilet bowl, I believed thoroughly that I had found the girl of my dreams. No other girl could have looked as graceful and elegant after puking her guts up. I also found out that Emily was a t-total vegetarian.
At 21 years of age, you have plenty of time to adjust your goals and lifestyle. Your philosophy, sadly, is likely to change itself. If the education system didn’t break you, it’s more than likely that the “real world” will. At 21 I had it all figured out.
When I was 21 I was sure set to wind up like my Dad. I worked hard, all day and over time, packing ice bags full of fish. The bags weighed a good 100lbs each. We threw the huge, awkward bags into a container, piling them high as walls of frozen water and cold, dead fish. Some containers would be shipped to Jasper, then across the country to the east, other, smaller containers would be shipped across the border to Seattle, each of the fish smuggling significant amounts of class A drugs.
In the evenings, my colleagues and I would practice quality control on our goods. For the record, we didn’t eat much fish.
I moved to Vancouver to get away from my Dad. I’d picked up the shipping job with relative ease and I rented a cheap bedsit in Coquitlam.
The fish job is where I met Mike.
Emily said that something fleeting like a moment shared by lovers is infinitely more immortal than a painting of the same moment.
I didn’t really get that.
Emily had been 16 when she had painted that picture.
I was glad she wasn’t immortally 16.
The way I saw it, death was inevitable. I even agreed with Emily, the fact our lives were a collection of moments unique to us that couldn’t be collected and stored to gather dust was beautiful. It didn’t mean I wanted to die. In fact, I was very much against the whole idea. I thought the entire system could do with rethinking.
At 21 years of age, you’ve got a lot going for you. By the time your 34, if you haven’t set yourself up for life, you’d really best get a move on.
Nearly 14 years older than Emily, my actions weren’t simply frowned upon but commented on actively by those that were aware of the relationship. It was my obligation, nay, my due diligence to ensure that as few people as possible knew about “us”.
I guessed it was strange to think that I was playing truant in Valleyview Secondry before Emily was even born.
I like to think age is just a number; otherwise it’s just this sort of backwards clock that doesn’t really tell you anything. If it counted down at least you could plan for the less desirable happenings.
The weekend in New York had been a success, at least for the most part. Emily was 18, her parents weren’t overly wild about a 31 year old man taking their daughter away on what, to them, must have seemed like a sexual elopement.
Truth be told, nothing happened. I was almost too scared to touch her, we didn’t even kiss. She adorned herself in the most beautiful attire, but what affected me more so was the way her skin glowed and she simply emanated this mental, emotional and physical perfection.
I spent a weekend with Emily Hart in New York City and my philosophy changed. She showed me around the art museums, she showed me little quirks of architecture, she pointed out the simplicity of human art, the complexity of mechanical art, the beauty of natural art. She showed me a plastic bag dancing in the wind. I’d seen the scene in American Beauty, but I’d never taken anything from it before then.
With Emily, I looked at everything with new eyes.
I was reborn, I was an art connoisseur, I was a patron of the theatre, and I was an artist myself. I was Buddha. I was reincarnated, a new man, stripped of all the pain and suffering of youth and born again, a heart open to love and trust and art and the overwhelming beauty of the things I saw every second of the day that no person would ever see again, in exactly the same sequence, at exactly the same time interval as I had. My experience was unique. I was beautiful and I shared my beauty with someone saccharinely sacred.
Emily Hart was the love of my life.
At 18 years of age, you think you have it all figured out.