every memory i call up from the year before the pandemic is bathed in golden sunlight, even though i know that couldn't have possibly been true. even the nights which seemed difficult then are now coloured in a kaleidoscope of city lights. every moment is backlit by the good light which filtered through the window next to my desk at Dessa, or the sunlight in Trinity Bellwoods Park on any given summer afternoon in a way that now seems unfair, or the perfect summer twilight you experience while walking west on Queen Street, on a night when maybe you'll go home or maybe you'll stay out a bit longer if it feels right, because anything is still possible. i'm trying to recall the last time i felt really alive in this city—not the strange days of last summer when i was traipsing through the ravines of midtown looping “sunseeker” and trying to convince myself that i was indeed happy when i was just trying to stay sane—but really, truly alive. what i come up with is Long Winter from last January, which was the inspiration for wild life. i wrote this when i was looking for a safe place; when nowhere felt like sanctuary but i was trying to remember what it felt like. i know now that Long Winter was my last safe checkpoint in time and space. the beginning of the pandemic is here again and i think i should have come up with a better checkpoint by now, but the hotel-turned-art-gallery-for-one-night in the west end on a cold evening in January is still my last safe place. when i was writing this i was writing it for someone else, but i look at it now and know that i was really writing for me—i was writing to capture the way that something (everything) hurt; writing because i thought that maybe if i could find the right words then i could write a safe place into existence; writing because i thought i could invoke time travel. i still think that i can.