I decided to go out to a New Year’s Eve dance. After all, I do need to be around people, don’t I? I signed up as a single for a rock and roll party at the London Music Club, a gorgeous old brick building near downtown London.
Parking was at the high school nearby and I decided to walk three blocks to Victoria Park before going into the club. There was skating, hot chocolate and lots of singers huddled in the heated bandshell. What wasn’t heated was me! It was so cold last night, complete with a healthy wind chill. Seems that a side effect of the food poisoning that has recently graced my body is being cold a lot.
Anyway, there I was walking towards the park – toque, scarf, parka and mitts. I wanted to see all the Christmas lights strung on the big coniferous trees. I drove by the night before and Jody told me very clearly once again, “I am all trees, Bruce. I welcome you everywhere.” Then she added, “I shine for you, Bruce.”
And despite the nip on my nose, and on every other conceivable body part, Jody was shining last night. Strings of multicoloured lights wavered in the wind. “Can’t you see that I’m waving at you?”
My first destination was clear: the heated public washroom. I told a guy in there “I just have to convince the powers-that-be that I need to pee for two hours straight.” We laughed.
Then it was out into the breeze again. Jody was everywhere in those trees, smiling at me. Thank you, Jodiette. I lined up at the Salvation Army trailer for a cup of hot chocolate (Yum, with a glowing face handing me down the good stuff) and then was off to the bandshell to hear some songs. A young woman kept crooning “I’m 22. How about you?” I was tempted to yell back “I’m just off by a decade or two,” but I was too discreet.
One song was all I could handle. Back into the washroom.
Now totally bundled up, I decided to circumnavigate the park to say hello to more Jody trees. I bowed to several of them. I bowed to my dear wife. But bowings were brief. I set out for the club with all the low energy I could muster. As I left the park, I caught the lovely voice of a woman from the bandshell, telling me “I want to know what love is. I want you to show me.” Thank you, my dearest Jodiette, for showing me so much about love … You’re very welcome, husband. The feeling is indeed mutual.
What a delicious feeling it was to be reaching for the door, knowing that I soon would be warm. Ahhh. Hanging up my coat and moving into the small party room, where I was placed at a round table with several singles and doubles. Hi to you and you and you.
And then I started to fade …
I sat down next to a woman, unaware that her husband was at the bar getting drinks. When he returned, he looked at me and said goodnaturedly, “So, moving in on my wife, are you?” Oh, my. Before Jody died, I loved such repartee, and would no doubt have had a nifty comebacker for him. But last night? No. After a few minutes, I told him that my wife died last month and I was sorry if I had been rude to him. He understood and we shook hands.
For the next fifteen minutes, however, the gentleman talked to me, with his back to his wife. I became very sad. She deserved so much more. Finally, I said, “May I make a suggestion? … You’ve talked to me for so long. Please talk to your wife.” And, graciously, he did.
Then the music started. All those happy couples on the dance floor, swirling each other around. I saw Jody’s smiling face from the past, and remembered how very much we loved to dance. Sad some more. What was I doing here? I had no interest in small talk, no interest in asking someone to dance, just no interest. And from inside me came the voice … “It’s okay, Bruce. This is not for you tonight. Go home.”
After the first set ended, I asked for people’s attention at our table and said, “This is not about any of you, but I want to go home. I just can’t handle this.” I smiled, wished them all a Happy New Year, and waved them goodnight. Lost, a little bit. Not wanting to pollute the space. Found, quite a lot.
I armed myself for the winter winds and set off into the night. A block later, I was in Hugo, and soon was driving along Dundas St., still fully clothed, heater cranked to the max. A girl ran across the street, wearing a jean jacket and a mini-skirt. How strange life is.