When I was younger, I wished only to be in love. I searched for love down many curvy turvy roads, thick and woodsy, pushing my way through thorny unknown terrain with only a dim lantern, wondering if I would recognize it in the dark. Illusive for so long, an apparition, and a ghost, I thought maybe it was just for songs and nighttime birds. Love comes and goes and lingers in a forgotten t-shirt for just a short time. Love is a wolf that stalks me, love is just a flower that wilts, love is for everyone else. I set my lantern down in the dirt and let the oil spill out.
The day I met Bob he was wearing a red hat. I knew he wasn’t an apparition and was a real person because apparitions almost never wear red hats. I cursed under my breath and felt my lips move so I pretended that I had stubbed my toe. I had gotten used to a certain, ‘lifestyle’ involving going to bed with a cat and comically high-waisted underwear. I had adjusted well and almost forgotten about stupid love and its many disappointments.
Our first date lasted 17 days and at the end of each evening, we would say, ‘hmmm another good day’, as if it were both a surprise and completely obvious at the same time. We listened to music while laying on the bed, kicking our feet and listing off every meaningful event so as to make up for lost time. I remember the first time I felt like I had something to lose. I sang him a song and he cried. He couldn’t believe I had never listened to Regina Spektor. He called me a true original, and a miracle and his eyes sparkled when he said so. I don’t know if the math is in on love, but I think if we strip away the numbers, we still know its symmetry. On December 9th, 2012, he kissed me on the wintery worn-out wooden porch of what would later become our home. I learned the math on that night that truly 2 can add up to 1.
Bob was always throwing our ideas into the air to see if they’d fly. All I ever had to do was hint, and he would start the gears. The Bob machine was never at rest, constantly turning and grinding, cutting away anything that didn’t marvel. On the outside, what they might have thought, didn’t matter. I felt the rush of doing without time to feel the pang of self-doubt. There are some people that love you always and even then, it can be hard to love yourself. Bob made it obvious that I was to love myself. I made it obvious to Bob that he does the same.
Bob used to say that if he could have one superpower it would be ‘perfect timing’. I could’ve met Bob 20 years ago in many places but somehow, we managed to pass like ships in the night. We’d wonder if I had walked by him in the hall at Blackwalk, or at a party at 7 Fraser or the Elmo or on a Parkdale street, would things have been different for us? We would occasionally wish we had met sooner… but then always agreed that the timing would’ve been off.
Bob had a weird beard before you did, and he used to perform on a secret stage with no script. He would invent you a house to live in and it would only cost you 40 bucks, but you had to drive to Michigan to pick it up from the guy…. BUT he would ride with you in the car. 20 years ago, Bob was doing whatever you just learned to do last week, except when he did it everyone thought he was crazy. He made meals out of 3 ingredients and jokes that you didn’t expect. He strung seemingly unrelated objects together and made them remote control operated. He taught you everything he knew, and he didn’t expect a damn thing in return. Just that you understand him and that you’d see him for who he was. He got along with pirates and old ladies and babies and pets. He also got into arguments with pirates and old ladies… but he would never go to bed angry.
Someone recently said to me, ‘you and Bob lived a whole lifetime in 6 years’ and that is true. From the very moment we had gas in the tank, we went. I can’t even begin to explain what I’ve learned from him because most of what I learned was about myself. That I was already capable of shaping my life to look exactly as I wanted it to, I just needed the right saw. That I was already a good wife, I just needed the right pain in the ass husband to stay up late with spitballing ideas and drinking wine. That story that you hear about dreaming it and then doing it… it’s real. I’ve seen it. I get it now.
We don’t get to decide how long we are here, but we do get to decide to be unafraid, to fall face down in the gutter and get back up and try the fuck again. That it’s better if they call you crazy because that means you’ve hit on something big. That you aren’t the skin and bones and the things they said to hurt you. You aren’t the past and you aren’t tomorrow. You aren’t the regrets and you aren’t the same.
I know I will find Bob around many corners. When he taught me how to do a thing, and now I know it. When I’m working on a project, I will feel him there kicking the tires, when I think of a fabric, or a terrazzo tile or a forgotten colour…. I will appreciate it. When I have to fiberglass a giant panda head onto the front of an ice cream truck, in the rain in November, and it has to be done by morning or else. When I must stay up all night to make it happen…. I’ll make it happen. When I’m broke but buy the good cheese anyway because life is short, and its worth having the best sandwich that I can possibly have. Bob will be there to share it with me.
I never imagined that I would love so large and lose it so quickly. Bob died on November 10th, 2018, of Glioblastoma, stage 4 brain cancer, for which there is no cure. I promised him I would write. I promised him I wouldn’t waste a moment more. I promised him I wouldn’t give up. This is for you bunny, and the love I never thought I’d find.