waltz in f minor

Dear friends...

I experienced Fall in full today: hair drizzled with mist from grey rain, violin and piano music soaring as I flew up the stairs to my home, coffee-bean bitters clinging to my wool trousers, cold-clumsy fingers fumbling for keys, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong crooning over the wet whoosh of tires on puddly asphalt. 

Fall is a triple-metre waltz, a step-ball-change between cotton candy August and blustering December. I had its rhythm tapping in my mind when I picked up my new digital piano from Tom Lee’s downtown with my parents and nine-year-old sister this week. The night before, my sister had slept over.

“I love you more than you know,” she’d murmured to me before her long-lashed eyes fluttered shut.

My parents whispered about my newest tattoo when they saw it. My mother pulled me aside while the saleswoman scanned the boxed piano. Mom peered closely at my chest. I still had to read the tattoo aloud to her: A poem hidden in silence

“Oh,” she said. She didn’t ask what it meant or where it came from. She bit her lip. “You’ll get addicted. Will you stop getting tattoos? You know you can get addicted, right? You’ll be covered in tattoos.” Her face puckered.

We had to thrust the boxed piano through the trunk of the car and onto the backseat of the Mazda. It cracked the plastic frame of the divider between trunk and cabin. 

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” said the skinny twenty-something who’d rolled the piano on a dolley from the upstairs store to the street.

On the drive back to my place, the bedroom I rent forty-five minutes away from my parents’ apartment, Dad went on at length about his brothers’ drug addictions. He asked me, again, if I remembered their deaths.

One rental apartment and three missed phone calls at a time, I have curated a chasm between us where things like a seven-hundred-dollar piano and a tear shed over a tattoo can send echoes reverberating in angry cacophony.

My first Vancouver autumn after four years of university in Toronto has tasted the way autumn should — caramel-sweet and wine-sour, as rusty as the chain-link swings on a childhood playground and at the same time, as turbulent as the winds that whip your hair so that you can’t see in front of you as you step off the curb to cross the street.

But I will dance onward, step-ball-change to the romantic 6/8 rhythm, cars flashing by, the city slick beneath my feet.