Picture it: Two women, a man, and baby in the summer of 2005, in a beautiful, but stinking-hot second-storey apartment in the High Park neighbourhood of Toronto.
Rachel and I — the two women — have fled to this baking summer sublet after our freezing first winter in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the coldest winter the city had seen in a decade, a winter in which I use a credit card to scrape the ice off the inside of the car windows on the rare occasion I manage to get it together enough to leave the house, what with the new baby and never, ever sleeping and not really having any friends anyway to hang out with. I didn’t have any friends because I was brand-new in town, although I would hazard a guess that the vibe I gave off — sort of, how would I describe it, grieving, desperate, sleepless and obsessed, talking endlessly, about it — didn’t help me in the friend-making department. I’m sure I exuded some kind of manic, scratchy sadness that made people smile and back away slowly instead of inviting me out for coffee or offering to come over and hold the baby while I napped.
By the time May rolled around, by the time I was able to cobble together the occasional five-hour stretch of sleep, by the time I finally crept outdoors with a blanket and lay it across the scrappy grass in the front yard and sat my baby down on it for the first time, I was so ready to be gone from The Lakehead, ready to be somewhere warm and familiar and decidedly urban. So we hightailed it to Toronto, where Rowan’s sleep schedule morphed into an almost-bearable two wakings a night and where good Indian food was a half-block away.
Rob came from Vancouver to Toronto to visit us that summer, our first as co-conspirators in this parent/donor/family thing we had created. We were all pretty new to the game, only five or six months in, so perhaps we could all be forgiven for what has come to be known as The Yoga Class Incident. But maybe not.
Picture: two women whose collective sleep deprivation has rendered them just a tad grumpy, whose lives have been utterly savaged by parenthood, trundle back and forth in their baking-hot High Park summer sublet, attending to their baby, eking out bits of work here and there, figuring out what’s for dinner, changing diapers.
In the centre of the room, the man sits at his computer, trying to find a yoga class to attend somewhere in the Greater Toronto Area.
As the women trundle and caregive, eke and change, the man narrates his yoga-class quest: There’s a class across town but he’s not sure he likes the look of the studio’s website. … click click click … There’s one around the corner, but he may go see a movie after, and the timing won’t quite work. … click click click … There’s one a few neighbourhoods over … click click click … “Oh, but they do Iyengar, and I’m really looking for more of an Ashtanga feel.” He mentions a class at Yonge and Eglinton, to which one of the woman replies, “But it will take you at least an hour each way to get there and back.”
To which the man replies, “Oh, that’s okay. I’ve got plenty of time.”
At this point, the collective storm clouds that have been gathering in the humidity of the Toronto summer reach maximum saturation.
“Listen to me carefully,” says the woman. “I need you,” says the woman, “to pick a fucking yoga class and go to it and never say another word about it again as long as you live or so help me God I will smash your computer into a million little pieces right now, Mr. I’ve-got-all-the-time-in-the-world.”
And he does.
* * *
To be continued.