In many ways, these posts are my alternative to real life. The chatter in my head that couldn't escape in the months that I have been living this "interim life". So I have found myself for the last five days in Toronto - days filled of activity and laughter - a respite from the cloudy shapes that represent my health or lack thereof, on any given day. This trip was the first in well over a year - a spur of the moment decision prompted by my desire to be a part of a dear friend's engagement celebration. It meant dressing up - mingling in one of many tall stone houses that lined a beautiful street where one imagines trouble would escape you and the people behind those solid doors have some key that you could never find - a stranger in rooms full of the connected - nursing a glass of champagne that arrived on a silver tray and imagining for a moment that it was possible to belong there in that tony neighbourhood where even the trees stood taller. But there was no coldness there - just the warm glow of a family expanding into two in a home filled with treasures and art and love. Magic.
But most of this visit was spent connecting with my partner's kids and their families. It is hard for me to try and describe the nature of my relationship to Miranda and Aaron. They have both been a part of my life for fifteen years and were obviously younger adults when we first met. So defining what place I have in their world is difficult for me as I can take no credit for the people they are or were before. When you meet someone with older kids you have no real standing...you are hoisted into their world by default - yet there are very few moments where I didn't feel there was at least a little room for me within a complicated web of people who share parts of Aaron's and Miranda's lives. For someone who never had children of her own - finding myself with these connections was unexpected - and over time their partners, Nathan and Shannon have expanded the circle further. Like everyone else in my life - my new status has broken our equilibrium - heightened our awareness of what we have become to one another. For lack of another name, I am "Nana" to Aaron and Shannon's kids...and someday there may be a better understanding for them about why I was in the picture at all...but for now I am going home with my own picture, drawn carefully by their five-year-old of a bunny house that he said was for me. It is folded carefully to be placed in a spot of honour on my fridge to remind me that regardless of what comes - these lines have already been drawn and I may be on the periphery but I am here.