Wind From The North Country
Watching the winds hit heavy on the borderline
The old adage “if you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” is proving itself over here at portesaintmonty to be a real little bitch (to quote Phoebe Bridgers), and it’s been hard to figure out how other people do it. Having decided to try to put forth a more constructive tone in my writing I find it much harder to know where to begin. A boon for the reader, I would imagine, as it mostly keeps me quite while keeping my contributions from reaching certain unfortunate hysterical heights. Yet niceness is its own danger, especially when you try and write it down: wanton positivity in writing is, like shiny happy people in music, easily the most excruciatingly insipid undertaking there is.
Happiness is horrid—easily the grimmest assignment I have ever faced. Nonetheless, I am determined to grin and bear it—at least until the end of this year. I’ve chosen to believe that it’s all a matter of perspective. A big part of that is pretending that whatever happens, no matter what, it’s a damn good thing. Yesterday, for instance, I got to experience a windstorm up close and personal—in my own apartment. I am grateful for that. Damn grateful.
Vancouver’s weather has been, how can I say this in a complimentary way?—exploring streaks of creativity this year in ways previously unimaginable. At the hottest second of the hottest minute of the hottest day of the year—precisely, in other words, at the hottest moment on record ever in this city—the interior pane of one of upper floor windows cracked from the heat. The trauma our window suffered also buckled the window above it into a permanently wide-open position. Lucky for us.
Yes, lucky because we’d have roasted ourselves alive if the window had become stuck in the closed position. But that was just the start of our good fortune. We kept right on being lucky right through fall and into winter because—although the hottest day of the year was almost three months ago now—our building has still not fixed our windows. What a break, because if they had fixed it, I might just have closed it tight and tried to stay warm. Like a sucker.
Writers are always making the wind do things like howl and shriek, which I think is unfair; because the wind, in my experience, keeps its shit together a lot more than people give it credit for. But this time it really was making noises that I didn’t know wind knew how to make. I sympathized with it because clearly it was extremely pissed off about something and I’ve been there. The blinds covering the window began to shake like they were going to rip their moorings free from the ceiling. Solid at the base, the blinds were also banging the cracked window pane so aggressively you almost sensed the heat had hired the wind to come back and finish the job right.
I opened the blinds because it was too dangerous to keep them down and then it was just the wind. For a few minutes I shared the rage of the wind fully. If we weren’t tenants in a certain neighbourhood of the city, if we belonged to a better strata of society or a strata association (boom), would they have neglected required maintenance for so long that living conditions bordered on the absurd? But then I looked down below and saw powerlines and traffic lights bowing lowly and gesticulating madly like the wind had provoked them into a contest of manners, and then I read about the mudslides and the evacuation of Merritt and I shut my stupid mouth. My eyes fell to the street and I saw the same awning-covered cubicle that had sheltered the girl with blue hair for so many nights this summer and fall. She wasn’t there now, but, right before the rainy season began, she’d returned. Only for one night. Staff from a local community centre came to talk to her the first morning she was back. She left in an ambulance. The staff later gathered up her possessions, presumably to forward them to her wherever she’d ended up.
It’s too cold to sleep rough, and that particular spot offers less shelter than it seems. But that hasn’t stopped several heirs to the awning from giving it a try. Even in the rain and in the wind, people are determined to make-believe that there is a dry patch there that no rain can reach. There is. But it’s the size of a yoga mat. Still, mind over a matter is a powerful thing and I share in solidarity the determined imperviousness to the elements of all forced to face it head-on. Now, no matter how furious the wind, I continue to smile. Who wouldn’t smile? Winter and my window are helping me learn the unlearnable lesson of patience. Worse, no matter how outraged I become, I look across the street and I can’t even stay that way.
I know—It’s not fair.
Unless it is.
The sky isn’t always fair, though. Clouds are real. I’m positive about that.