I search down empty country roads, around city street corners in the dark, street lights a flat white mockery: "Who ya lookin for?" I look through page after blank page of internet lore, lies and appearances, late night LED screen, URLs that show me everything and tell me nothing. I search the eyes of children who grieve through laughter and liquor, stumble blurry eyed through books required, unable to absorb. I lean into laundry, check pockets, shake out wrinkles, dry tears that never come. I read the children's book and velveteen rabbit tells me you're only real when someone loves you. I watch birthday and Christmas come and go like a freight train at the controlled crossing, arms down, wheels clucking, red light flashing left and right, "He left, that's right, get back on track, Jack."
I sign up for the right to mingle amongst mug shots, thousands of marital rejects gathered and groping in misnamed dating sites that are more e-discord than harmony, looking for someone with tender eyes and strong shoulders. And I, the Jack of all trades and master of none, add to my shelf the latest trophy: Champion Lover of the Not Real.
I read my journals, wander through memory. I find you finally. There. Right there. In black and white. Imprinted on every page of every book. The subject of every poem written by every poet. Standing on every street corner waiting for the light to turn green to cross over to my street. Embroidered on the clean white bed sheets drying out in the Alberta wind, engraved on the leather-gripped steering wheel of the German sports car, emblazoned on the label of every wine bottle, basting on every rack of juicy ribs. Filling up my mind, firing every synapse, invading every procrastinated decision. Tattooed in the deepening lines on my face. Touching my hair. Expanding to fill my body, my days until there is room for nothing else.
And nothing it is. You are everywhere and nowhere all at once. Your silence is my solitary confinement. Who are you? Where are you?
The weather reports the highway is bare and dry. All roads leading home are wide open. The want ads report single white female, 50-something, with aging dog, seeks long lost friend for daily communion. Telus, Bell and Rogers report all cellular towers working with no static. The Bible reports that faith, hope and love still hang out together, but love. Ah, love. Contrary to what you might think. It's Real.
It shows up in the strangest places. When the last jigsaw piece is placed. The last line of the play is spoken. Where women cry and men clear their throats, shift from one foot to the other. Where searchers gather, torch lights raised. Where eyes lock so briefly for so long and the SOS is transmitted.
My religion reports that what I really seek is not you but God. But even God admits it's not good to be alone.
Photo credit: Joyce Rempel