It used to be that the last time I felt home was in a tiny blue penthouse apartment in Mysore, India on the 10th avenue of the 3rd stage of a neighbourhood called Gokulam in November of 2014. Inside the blue walls, the apartment had brown plastic lawn chair furniture and a stained squishy mattress that I once was afraid had bed bugs when I woke up one morning with scattered bites across my forearms after I’d left the windows open all night long.
Outside my tiny blue Mysore penthouse apartment, I used to go out on the roof top and sit under the sky and my clothesline whenever the moon was fully full or fully new, even it was only two o’clock in the morning.
And I felt home at 3998 Boulevard Lasalle from August of 2007 until July of 2010 and I wrote all the yamas and niyamas on the wall with tempera paint which I have since given away as I do with many items nearly pathologically.
If anyone is wondering what the yamas and niyamas are, they are in the yoga sutras, and their meanings are infinitely debatable but, some people say yamas are things you are not supposed to do. For example don’t steal or have too much wreckless sex. And some people say niyamas are things you are supposed to do. For example, clean your own fucking house.
The Yama and Niyama wall included a painting of a mushroom and a turtle and an umbrella and each of these items were lumps of a similar stature and shape, with different arrangements of dots or limbs or handles, or a stem. And there was a black and white baby picture of me and my father when my father had long black hair and a beard like a hippie.
On another of wall on Boulevard Lasalle, in tempera pain, I traced my body and filled in an impossibly colourful silhouette of myself. Beside it I wrote, I Let Go, by Erica J. Schmidt and now the impossibly colourful silhouette and the words I Let Go by Erica J. Schmidt are both part of my life’s humble mythology which is in fact not free from illusions or delusions or cravings for grandeur. Or clinging. Or wishing that somehow I will end up sitting on one of Oprah’s comfy green chairs in the middle of the forest.
I want to let go again.
An ugly floral couch is getting drenched outside my window. I wanted to let you know that my visit with my mother was a low to medium-grade success. She brought two packages of expensive artisanal granola. And when she saw my wall of smelly marker sentences and drawings, the first thing she did was laugh at your quote, which is scrawled beneath my symbolic and disappointing pelvis.
“I’ve heard worse,” by Vincent #*#*#*#. You were referring to a couple’s post-partum and deteriorating sex life, and it makes people think of all kinds of things.
“I’ve heard worse,” read my mother, and she laughed so hard.
In my life’s mythology, I get lost at the Toronto zoo when I am two or three years old. I get lost at the zoo, and Mommy breaks down. I am wearing a little blue dress, and probably the dress has flowers on it.
“Let’s go this way,” I tell my family, and I walk down a sunny boardwalk, not knowing that no one is following me. Behind a fence stand tigers, and people are patting them like horses. I am not afraid, not at all. A frumpy, olive-skinned woman with voluptuous hair says, “You come with me.” So I take her hand. Suddenly, I am in my mother’s arms, my face next to her painful protruding collar bone. Her face is broken and she weeps, as though she might melt and disappear. Mommy is breaking down. I have no idea how to deal with this and conclude that I must be far too large for a mother who is so tiny.
This morning I walked my mother from my house all the way to the train station. On the McGill campus, we passed a tour of beautiful teenagers who might have big dreams about going to university and changing the world, or who might just be going along with the whole thing. There was a frail-looking kid who was using a motorized wheelchair and it looked like he had to breathe through a tube of oxygen. The sight of him made my mother weep. Her face broke and it looked like she might melt and disappear. I never know how to deal with this and felt that I must be far too large for a mother who is so tiny.
“Just seeing him in that chair with all those kids standing up.”
Some people might have replied, “Yes, I know. It makes my heart hurt too.” When your heart hurts, it means that your heart is an excruciatingly compassionate and empathetic and loving and giving place. I’m not sure my heart is exactly that kind of place all that often.
I have no idea how much that kid didn’t want to breathe through a tube, or if he’d rather be standing up, but it didn’t quite hurt my heart because he might actually really love his life. So I told my mother about all the people I’d met who breathed through tubes or worse, or who stopped being able to walk when they were twelve, and who didn’t want people to feel sorry for them, and who went to summer camp and university and made tons of friends and kayaked and played hockey and when they broke their legs, they thought it was funny cause they couldn’t walk anyways.
“Lots of those kids do great,” I said.
“How do you know all this,” said my mother.
By the time we’d crossed Sherbrooke street and were in front of that weird yellowy statue of a crowd in front of the Laurentian bank, my mother wasn’t crying anymore.
Your head might say, I can’t wait to be dead, when really a dissociated snack will do just fine.
At the train station, I drank some of my feelings with a coconut latte. Walking home, it started to rain, and on Durocher Street, I found a course pack on Abnormal Psychology getting wet in a plastic bag in front of a dumpster. And I ripped out the Walt Whitman the Henry James sections of some other course pack on a specific topic about American literature that I have already forgotten. And there is a story called, Rappaccini’s Daughter in which a young scholar who is named Giovanni has a tendency for heartbreak and sighs heavily by the end of the first paragraph.
The first article in the abnormal psychology book is about a kid with autoimmune encephalitis, and this caused psychosis and despondency and a bunch of neurological dysfunctions.
Perhaps in another lifetime, I will be one of those people who stores granola in Mason jars purchased specifically for this purpose, sprinkling the granola over yogurt every now and then, instead of using it to replace all meals for approximately two days.
In Song of Myself, someone has circled in pencil the line,
And that a kelson of the creation is love.
I would have switched the lines
and after creation
and maybe after is.
It occurred to me to Google, “Walt Whitman racist” and in fact, Walt Whitman did write a number of terribly racist things.
From a footnote I learned that a kelson is a basic structural unit,
a reinforcing timber bolted to the keel of a ship. And the keel of a ship is a backbone. Whoever circled the line also drew an arrow and wrote, love keeps the world steady.
Soon after that, there’s the section where the child asks, What is the grass, and Walt Whitman doesn’t know what to say. He’s not sure.
The person with the pencil says, Green is the colour of hope.
Green is the colour of hope, and we’ve all heard worse.
You might sometimes wish you were dead
really a dissociated snack will do just fine.
Send your letters to me or Vincent to ericaschmidt85(at)gmail(dot)com. I will be out of granola very soon.
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Dear Vincent, I went on my adventure. Everything is green. I love you.
Dear Vincent, Some other Vincent coerced me into a blowjob.