Time is subjective.
Nine years ago, I was born.
Five years and fifteen minutes ago, my Grandma and I collected wild strawberries from the lawn in front of the cabin. I ate them out of a styrofoam cup, mixing them with Orange Crush pop. My grandfather unboarded the cabin windows, and pointed the intricacies of spider webs out to me. I helped him cut up worms to feed to a bird he had saved. I sang and played the piano and helped my Grandma plant sweet peas.
A school year later, I painted my nails with black nail polish. “That’s disgusting,” my best friend told me. She was destined for popularity, and eventually a child and a husband. I was destined to wear fishnets and go to university. My mom told me that boys liked the best friend better, because she was prettier than me. It made me cry, but it was the truth.
Three weeks ago, a tattoo artist with a lazy eye was injecting black ink into my hip, while my disapproving brother waited in the other room. The tattoo artist kept one eye on me, and the other on the pulsating needle. I was barely 18, and had driven four hours into Edmonton on a whim in Kyle’s 1984 Ford Tempo, for the sole purpose of getting tattoos before Helka went back to Finland. We got lost on the way home, singing along loudly with the Juliana Theory, Sublime and pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas.
Five minutes pass, the scab is gone and the star’s lines are wavering. We eat meals of bread and processed cheese, and bread and Nutella. The shower curtains have mold, and we’re lost every other day. I write Devon long letters and send Mike postcards. I hold my guilt tight to my chest, drink beer for the first time, and calmly watch people snort lines of cocaine.
After breakfast, Chloe and I drive across the province. With the Kidney Thieves blaring from my car’s speakers, we try to put up our tent in the pouring rain, but get frustrated and open our beer instead. Within moments, two guys come along and put up our tent for us. We smile triumphantly, as that was our plan all along.
Later that afternoon, I’m surrounded by thick salty air. I’m 21, in the blistering heat on a desolate beach crowded with crab carcasses. The tide is out, and a little girl tells Naomi and me how to tell the difference between the males and females. Most of the dead are female. I can feel the skin on the back of my neck scorch and die.
The sun sets and rises again, and I’m sitting on a Toronto rooftop, scribbling furiously into my journal. I don’t feel clichéd. I feel strangely settled, alive, and on the verge of something.
Tomorrow, I’m writing this for you.
And when the next season passes, I’m dead.