I was frequenting Parc Lafontaine at the end of the summer, to watch small animals or fights between drunk homeless men. I had been recovering from a deep depression, discovering newfound beauty in the world and delighting in literally anything that was directly in front of me. Sometimes I would sit for hours watching the sun move across the sky, clouds blowing perpendicular, wholly satisfied with just being there / being alive.
It was on a flowerbed at the West gate that I first saw him sitting, waiting, with a bicycle balanced against his knee. His eyes were bold and rounded out of his skull, attentive towards me, riding the top of his rigid and attractive jawline. I can even recall noticing the moisture wherein the eyes basked, sparkling in the light of the streetlamps as the moon made its notorious appearance. He was a mysterious stranger who seemed to take an avid interest in me and judging by the appeal of his presentation, I agreed to exchange contact information. We met again shortly after, this time at the base of Mount Royal. We climbed to the top while filling our space with conversation about philosophy and science. When I told him that I thought our meeting was serendipitous and somewhat mystical-seeming, he laughed and suggested that it was probably my medication. I laughed and recoiled, feeling simultaneously refreshed by his strange but warranted sense of logic.
Romance wasn’t an object of my desire, or so I thought. I knew that disappointment seldom fell astray from the harshness of loving emotion. When the man leaned in to kiss me, I reciprocated, dismissing the act as pure titillation, and idealizing nothing more than sensory experience itself. He smiled at me sweetly, his bright spheres twinkling in the dark so dreamlike. He caressed my arm and said, “I like you because you’re smart.”
Had he not commented on the quality of my intelligence perhaps I wouldn’t have considered inviting the stranger into my home — although these kinds of hypotheses are never of any value. I understood the impulse of young men; to spread their seed and leave, and I accepted this with curious passivity, assuming that I too wanted nothing more. Sex often aligned itself with territory but for some reason I didn’t predict that this sickness would have affected me as strongly as it did. Perhaps I believed I was resilient to the whims of willing displacement.
As morning light christened the edges of my window, he held me close to his nose and said that I reminded him of Antarctica. “You must have the same soap as what we had around the house, when I read books about Antarctica, in second grade.”
I felt both repulsed and flattered by this bizarre comparison. I suppose I felt flattered because I was beginning to develop a fondness for the stranger and wanted to place myself deeper inside his vessel of memory / recognition. I suppose I felt repulsed, or insulted, because the comparison was weightless and could be attributed to mere coincidence.
He work up a few hours after and kissed my forehead astutely. I escorted him out the front door and watched him ride away on his bike, through the protection of my glass window. I went back to my bed and wafted the pillow where he dreamt, savoring in the serene fragrance of masculinity and cleanliness.
After what I thought of as heavy pursuit on his behalf, and a flurry of unnecessary compliments, I assumed it would have been natural for a closing word of grace, rectifying the act on my queen size. It would come many days later, after my initiation, with something like, thanks. His response, something like: you too!
The stranger’s disappearance happened just as quickly as his introduction. I felt confused, wondering why someone would pretend to make friends with someone only for sex. I wondered why some people can’t just be honest and ask for what they truly desired. I wondered why people would assume heightened expectations from strangers only to create the heightened expectation by its very assumption. Had it been necessary to mislead me into thinking myself valuable for more than sensory experience? Had I only misled myself in my impatient interpretation? Too quick and too brave?
It was only upon the review of my medication, that I began to earn some veneer of solace from the whole situation. Chemically, the drug was understood to alter one’s perception of self, in reference to their environmental surroundings. It was normal, when induced, to interpret objects as unified extensions of the ego, muddling the prior delineation imbued with sobriety. In this respect, I forgave myself for unifying the stranger with my manic recovery, though his apparent knowingness had never rendered as anything other than cruelty or deception.