“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.” — Blaise Pascal
So life went on.
While the job working for Jordy’s dad was pitched as something that would continue after the reels were transfer, when that was done so was I. I was laid off just before Christmas. Hired as a private contractor there was no employment insurance and no hope of getting work around the holiday’s since no one hires at that time of year.
I wanted to spend all of the holidays with my family, since it was the first since I found out about Dad’s diagnosis. Jordy was insistent upon splitting them. So we did Christmas with my family and New Years with hers in Florida.
While in Florida, Jordy’s little sister, Kristen, wanted her dad to tell her a Billy Bud story, but he wasn’t up for it.
“What’s a Billy Bud story,” I asked.
“It’s a story he tells about a character named, Billy Bud,” Jordy’s mom told me. “He uses a lot of b’s.”
Kris seemed disappointed at not having heard a story, so I decided that I’d have a go. That night I wrote, The Unbearable Billy Bud and read it to Kristen the next day.
She enjoyed it. I asked her dad if he minded, he said I could have the name and that he hadn’t really created it. It was later I found out about the novella, Billy Budd, by American writer, Herman Melville.
When I got back to Toronto I worked on the story some more, and, not knowing any better, decided to try and do illustrations for it myself. I went to the Toronto Reference Library to study drawing by reading a lot of books and watching videos. The last time I had done any sort of art work was when I painted backdrops for my clay animation Super 8mm film, that was part of my college short film, Forgiveness.
After the drawings for Billy Bud were complete I had the book spiral bond. Then I sent it out to about a half dozen publishers. If you’re thinking of doing this, don’t. Unless you’re a really great artist, just send the story. Most publishers have artists they like to work with, if they like your story they’ll use one of those artist to illustrate it.
I returned to Café Volo and asked for my old job back. The owner, Ralph, said that he didn’t normally take people back, but I was a good worker so, yes. Thus saving my bacon.
Cafe Volo was a great place to work. It was small, but global. I had co-workers who were gay, straight, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Atheist and Muslim. We all got along swimmingly, even had a laugh or two. One Halloween we played a practical joke on one of the servers. The whole staff was in on it, or the ones working that night, anyway. We scared him a little more than was initially intended. Sorry about that, Sal. Once Sal calmed down, though, he appreciated it as much as everyone else did.
I started hearing back from publishers on Billy Bud. Rejection from all except a vanity publisher, but I didn’t want to go that route. I’m not even sure why I applied to them in the first place. I think I misread the website.
Some of the rejection letters were encouraging toward my writing, and advised that my efforts should be put there rather than on trying to improve my skills as an artist. Which I already knew. Though what I learned about art not only raised my appreciation for it, but some of the knowledge I gained would later come in helpful when writing Chill.
One of the most encouraging rejections came from a BC publisher, Orca Book Publishers. I made note of it, in case I ever wrote another book for children.
I also worked on a short script, The Hidden Porpoise, which I was trying to get made. At this point I was still thinking of shooting Lavender myself. I reckoned shooting a 20 minute short first might be wise, and easier to fund. There were two lead roles and for a while I even had an actor, Tim Vant, to play one of the roles, and actor Jason Leighfield would play the other. But it just didn’t come together.
Trips to the county were monthly.
I didn’t get to see Jordy, much. She was the musical director for Jesus Christ Superstar (Stage Blue Productions). At first I reckoned she was just busy. I noticed a change in her, but chalked it up to her under a lot of pressure. Then I started to pick-up an odd vibe anytime I went out to a get-together with the cast and musicians. I started feeling that there might be more to it.
At the wrap party, she disappeared. I couldn’t find her for most of the night. When she did momentary appear her behaviour was odd and made me feel . . . most unwelcome. Like I was the annoying guy who really likes the girl but who the girl has no interest in and would rather not even be seen near him since she doesn’t want anyone to even think that there is the remotest chance that there is something between them. That sort of thing.
Finally, around 3 or 4 in the morning, she reappeared, to go to the fridge and get another drink. I told her I wanted to go.
She said . . . something. I can’t remember what but it was dismissive at best. Maybe it was just, “So, go.”
She didn’t even look at me when she said it, I remember that.
I gave her a hug good-bye.
“It’s over,” I whispered in her ear. The words fell from my mouth before I even knew I was going to say them.
She looked at me then. And she exploded.
“What?” She yelled. “If I don’t go with you, it’s over?”
“I don’t care what you do,” I said. “It’s over.”
I could’ve handled things better—to be sure. It wasn’t one of my prouder moments. But it’s a strange regret to have since, with information I later gained, how much worse it would have been if I had said nothing and just left. As, by rights, I should’ve.
To my surprise she grabbed her stuff and followed me out. Outside all hell broke loose. The fight continued when we got back to the apartment.
I accused, she denied. She moved out the next day—but didn’t take her stuff.
After things calmed down, I blamed myself for all of it. I had misread the situation, over retracted. I’d added up two and two and gotten a thousand. I sent Jordy letters and flowers and begged forgiveness.
We were both taking Taekwondo at the time, at Black Belt World in Toronto. We independently decided to go to a different class than usual, one of the morning classes, to avoid the chance of seeing each other.
We picked the same class.
We barely looked at each other.
Then, for the first time for both of us, the instructor decided to make it a sparing class. Or maybe it was a sparing class and neither of us realized it. I can’t recall. But, who should he pick to fight each other? You guessed it. Jordy and I. What are the odds?
I decided to let her get some of her anger out with kicks and punches. I held back. Oh, sure, I got a few in, to do otherwise would be sexist—and I got yelled at by the instructor for not trying.
I noticed that Jordy wasn’t as angry as one would expect, considering the accusations made.
After the class, that little something that was eating me returned and grew. Despite her constant denial that there wasn’t anyone else, my mind wouldn’t shut off. Then it clicked.
She was in love with they guy who played Caiaphas. Who the f@#k falls for Caiaphas? She was raised catholic. She should’ve known better.
I recalled the little shite going out of his way to talk to me at most of the parties. But I saw him less than I saw Jord at the last one. If you’re chatting up someone’s girlfriend for the purpose of feeding your ego, how much more clever you feel when you befriend the boyfriend, too. Asshole.
I confronted Jordy with a name. She confessed.
She had spent most of the night at the wrap party with him, in an upstairs room—talking. She was cold toward me because she was hoping I’d leave. She wanted to spend the night with him.
I asked why she left with me, then.
She said that it caught her off guard when I broke up with her and she wasn’t sure how far it was going to go with him so she wasn’t ready to call it quits with me, yet. Not until she was sure about his commitment.
Hell didn’t break loose when she told me that, a strange calm came over. The truth, no matter how painful, has a strange effect. Lies make me crazy, like an itch I can’t scratch. The truth reaches it.
We went our separate ways.
Then my Aunt Grace, my father’s older sister, died. Things blur there.
I never noticed until writing this blog how often things get blurry in my memory whenever death was close by. I recall going down to the county for the service, but even had to call my cousin, Jeanne, Grace’s daughter, to confirm. It’s all a haze. I think that between Dad’s illness, aunt Grace’s death and the break-up, I was on emotion overload.
When I got back to Toronto, I didn’t have the energy to fight anymore. I forgave Jordy for what she did. She forgave me for getting upset about it.
Her things were still in the apartment. I told her that if she didn’t want to continue our relationship, that was fine with me but she had to come and get her stuff. I had a life to get on with. I was keeping the apartment.
If she wasn’t going to move out, if we were going to give it another go, that was fine, too. But she had to move back in. There was no middle. I would not live in limbo. I told her and then went to work at Volo.
I still recall coming home from work, it was late. I walked out of the subway, across the park, and looked up at the apartment window. The Christmas lights that we kept strung up year round were on. She was home. I was happy. My heart felt whole, again.
We’ll leave it at that.