you shouldn't miss pandemic spacetime, and i don't, not really—but i miss some specific experiences from the time we spent living on the internet: battle Tetris and waking up to messages from across the Atlantic Ocean sent while i was sleeping, book recommendations which felt like a glimpses into a soul, the time when everything was still new and we spoke the language of a strange new shared world and everything felt like it was falling into place instead of falling apart, when i said it's a long way forward and you said everything is going to be okay and i really believed it because we were shelter to each other, the way i felt compelled to write everything down as it was happening in real time so i could remember every single detail of the story, that tiny sliver of spacetime when it was still possible that we could be anything and everything together.
we're all just looking for a north star; something to pin our hopes on. and i was thrilled to have finally found it, but then the earth shifted beneath our feet and i lost track of the north star in the big night sky. this point in time now feels like the end of something; the thing we loved with all certainty feels very over. and i'm finally far enough away from it to understand What Happened with perfect clarity, and now i know that we never could've changed anything, actually.
when i think about What Happened it is separated into Before and After, and it took me six months of questioning my own memory and countless hours spent dissecting every conversation on repeat with someone who was there that i was able to pinpoint the exact string of events separating the before and the after. i think i already knew when they were happening, but at the time i still was holding onto the idea of sanctuary being possible.
before is the made-up language we invented for our shared world, cozy conversation space, coexistence in virtual reality, infinite games, photos from the books we were reading, shared playlist intimacy, the way our laughter echoed throughout the night we were sitting outside together underneath west coast stars, the first night we hid out in the bathroom and stayed up talking until two o'clock in the morning, the cross-Atlantic video call from the top of the mountain in Vancouver at five o'clock in the morning so we could show you the sunrise over the Pacific, co-conspiring to take over the world from the downtown rooftop at midnight, the way we were shelter to each other. before is the day we first met, sitting in the coffee shop on Yonge Street until closing and making up our dreams. that night i walked out with an absolute conviction that this was going to be the one; this was going to be the story i wanted to tell.
and after, well—after looks like the nights we spent in the Spadina office with all the lights off talking and trying to make sense of it all, the point when we realized that we weren't going to be able to save anything. you tell me you can't listen to this song anymore because it was playing when i burst into tears on one of those nights, but i play it out loud as a form of time travel. despite everything, some of the nights near the end were some of my favourites: the ones where we sat around J's kitchen table stitching together all the information we had in an attempt to make it make sense while drinking multiple bottles of wine and trying to convince ourselves that if only we did this one thing then everything would be fine. the five of us wanted this to work so much that we were willing to do whatever it took to save it and it imbued me with hope to know that you cared as much as i did. so here's the thing i never said: i'm sorry— you stayed and i didn't, and all i have to say is that i'm sorry, but i adore you all.
there's a conversation we had while walking down Queen Street in midsummer which haunts me—you already knew then, didn't you? you had seen this story before and you had more clarity on it than i did at the time. i didn't know then that it would the first and last time i saw you after our time together on the west coast. you were the first to leave and i admired you for it. i miss your honesty and your clarity; i wish we'd spent more time together. i hope you're well.
here's the thing about blank slates: they're beautiful because they still can be anything. you said it didn't have to turn out like this and i said i know. we both wanted to play an infinite game at the highest level, and with a blank slate that looked like it was entirely possible. we went all-in on something extraordinary which didn't yet exist because we wanted to build it, and even though it didn't work out, i like that you saw it the way i saw it. it tells me that maybe inspiration like that is possible again.
this is the end of something, but still i think the time we had together was stunningly, singularly beautiful. maybe in another life.