“Help yourself to some food” by Julia at the studio

Saturday November 17, 2018
11:10am
5 minutes
From a text

I’ve got an Italian family waiting for me at the table and they’re excited to see me. My mother will make her new favourite thing: date walnut cookies. Some will have chocolate chunks. Some will be overcooked and she will be the only one to notice. Most will fly off the table before I get there. I have to hurry, one month until we’re all laughing. Until my brother tells the same story he’s told for years. Until my sister makes a very good family photo on her fancy camera. There will be clam sauce because I am coming home and my mom knows it’s my favourite. There will be crab legs and the best mushrooms on this side of the world. My father will say, this smells like a happy home. And it will be. We have a lot to talk about. A lot of food to praise. I’m going to stop eating now to prepare. Italian families don’t trust a person who refuses food. They won’t believe you if you say you’re full anyway.

“I have two more weeks to pack” by Julia on her patio

Saturday June 23, 2018
11:36pm
5 minutes
from a text

Get here sooner bring your guitar and your good ideas
We’re going to jam on the patio and light some candles and eat a charcuterie board like last time
Like last time
I like last time and this time will be so different
No more blonde on the top
No more orange hue better in person
You, I think will find a sundress in my closet to love best and please wear it
Great don’t pack anything let me give you everything you need
And feed you I will feed you
Like a humming bird buzzing up
Borrow the tiger balm you gave me for my trip
I use it on the back of my neck when I can’t sleep
You can sleep in or out or on my side of the bed
It caves in sometimes
It caved in today
But we can touch the floor and isn’t that always fun
I can’t hold the clock because it teases
Tick tick and still weeks and weeks
Week week
Week week
Counting down the days until the walks catch our feet and the night worships the salt back into our hair
Don’t bring a blowdryer
Mine is fine and works the way a $3 blowdryer should
Don’t bring anything but you

“our bodies amalgamated from the great melting pot” by Julia on her couch

Sunday June 10, 2018
11:45pm
5 minutes
The Communion of Strangers
Brian Jay Stanley

tonight you are coming home
this morning
tonight’s border with morning and you will be crossing the border too
I think we talked about the amalgamation of our bodies
but I know you’ll be tired
I can wait one more day
been waiting
been staying up late to avoid going to sleep without you
I’ll put my hand in between your shoulder blades
wake me up if you can last long enough to say hello
my body will know you’re there in my sleep
the human heart is pretty amazing like that
I can meet you in my dreams
we used to do that but this whole time was different
we forgot
we had other things going on
I tried not to make plans but plans were made
I’ll be leaving the bed before you and then maybe
I’ll see you at breakfast
maybe lunch
definitely dinner
how can we be in the same city and see each other after everything happens
I hope our sleep bodies find some peace before we
get to lay in the curve of one another without a plane telling us it’s time to go

“How could I predict” by Julia in her bed

Sunday April 29, 2018
8:45am
5 minutes
The Address Book
Louis Phillips

I wonder how I was supposed to know
how I was supposed to recognize you after all this time away
Your face changes every time you come back to me and my eyes are different too
Was I supposed to look for the switch of your skin
wait for the weight of your arm in my lap as you slept
and I wrote
Was I supposed to open the door and feel it
Maybe it’s in the hours collecting one by one in the bottomless hope of our pockets
Maybe after breakfast together one day or after lunch or after dinner

“Do everything as slowly as possible” by Julia at her desk

Friday, April 20, 2018
11:00pm
5 minutes
The Art of Aging
Sparrow

Get here later, take your time
ask the elderly man if he needs
to borrow your elbow while getting
off the plane
bring him to the luggage carousel
and wait for his bags to pop through
the shute so you can help him pull
them off
Be the kindness that I know
Be the patient peace
Let the family of five go ahead
of you in line for the taxi
do not ask your driver to put a
rush on the ride home
Lover, I will be waiting for
your arrival with all the
bounty and welcoming of a midday
reunion
I will kiss you like time is
not the enemy
I will be close to sleep but
being closer to you will keep
me rested until we are in each
other’s arms
Stop for french fries if you’re
hungry and bring your bags up
one by one
Do not worry about the clock now
I will be here when you get here

“Part of the explanation” by Julia on F’s couch


Friday June 9, 2017
9:24pm
5 minutes
The Globe And Mail

I have been avoiding calling my mother because I know I am going to cry.
She is avoiding me too for the same reason.
Earlier this week my sister tells me that the family reunion is off.
After swearing in the bathroom and crying and yelling and crying some more,
I tell her I’m sorry for overreacting.
My sister tells me she could listen to me swear for days, and if it’s any consolation,
I was not overreacting, but reacting, and both would be okay.

Today I finally phone her and for whatever reason we start speaking french to each other.
I think because this softens the blow.
Keeps things light, after all, it is only a family that will not be reuniting.
It’s not the end of the world.
I hear the sigh in her voice as she mixes in some words in Italian, some a combination of both.
I tell her I already know.
She laughs.
Then later she cries.
We both do.

“I don’t even think that your songs are about me” By Julia at her dining table


Wednesday January 11, 2016
2:40pm
5 minutes
Like You
EXES


When we saw each other again for the first time in three years, you looked different. You smiled different. I felt like you did that on purpose so I wouldn’t look too closely at the you we both know you used to be. It didn’t work. Distractions don’t work on people who have seen your entire insides. I should know. I can’t hide from you either. Even if I was panicking about how I looked seconds before you met me at the underground station. I didn’t want you to think anything other than I Used To Love This Person. I wish I didn’t think that appearances were the only road to remembering that. When we hugged I tried to hold on a little longer so I could smell your neck. I don’t know if I was expecting the same smell you used to have, or hoping for a new one to break all my stupid patterns. Either way I might have been the only one in that hug, and it broke my heart a little. You told me that it’s good to see me and I wanted to say Yeah? But Can You Define What Good Means To You Real Quick? Instead I laughed and swatted at your arm, saying You Too, You Too.

“two or more writers” by Julia on Bec’s bed


Tuesday January 3, 2017
10:59pm
5 minutes
bcartscouncil.ca

Two or more writers gathered at the table
Nobody inside yet
Nobody hungry
Two or more writers sit together after more than a year of not sitting together being writers at the same place
Sit together now and laugh about old times and give each other hope
Two or more writers or was it two or less writers not knowing how to define themselves
Even if either one would have given the same title to the other
Two or less writers sit together wondering how it is that before two or more writers were more than just writers and more than not writers
Two or more writers gathered at the table
Eggs and toast eaten
Tea and coffee finished

“Can you please bring me my water?” by Julia in her childhood bedroom


Sunday December 25, 2016
11:52pm
5 minutes
Overheard in the kitchen

Young one is half laying beside me, nodding off and meeting sleep somewhere in the middle so it doesn’t have to come all that way.
Older one is propped up against the fire place, figuring it out pen in hand or holding space for the opportunity in case it comes knocking.
Fire starter keeps banging on the wood, offering silly comments, and roasting chestnuts even though they’d taste better if we were still hungry.
Happy heart is stuffed into the love seat, smiling at me every time something deserves an eye roll or a gut laugh.
You are on the other side of me, keeping my leg and my spirits up, holding my water and my elbow, lifting more up than you ever could hold in your two hands.

“RESET BALANCE” by Julia on the airplane


Sunday October 30, 2016
6:04am
5 minutes
from a Freshii sign at the airport

Things are slowing down
Down
We are finding our breath and our hurt and we are letting them kiss
I know how to find centre
I know now I know now I know now

Yesterday’s self portrait is unrecognizable to me today. The shapes are the same but the lines are different. Different good, different wise. I think in the last few hours I have grown new lines or old ones have morphed into something that holds my skin in place better now. I greet the mirror with the kind of warmth reserved for reunion; homecoming to the eyes of my mother.

“has been hurt on the job” by Julia in her bed


Monday October 17, 2016
11:51pm
5 minutes
from a Facebook post

My cousin Matthew missed the Family Picnic that we started calling “The Reunion” even though it was really just a regular get together only with meals starting at 10am instead of 2. Italians love starting meals at 2pm. He missed it because he was in an accident at work and got a piece of led in his eye or something equally as dramatic. He would have liked to be there. He said he looks forward to the hour drive every summer, even if it’s raining. Matthew couldn’t even open his eye for a whole week. He had a very good excuse to miss the bocce ball and the badminton and the group photos and the cute little videos we make for the family members who also really wanted to be there but couldn’t because of very good excuses. We should have made one for Matthew. I’ll tell him we owe him one.

“master of my own” by Julia on her couch


Friday May 23, 2014
1:10am
5 minutes
overheard on the streetcar

Oh My LANTA!!! ABBY!!! You’re looking like a real woman these days aren’t you! I can’t believe it, you’re so tall now. And look at those cheeks! Where did they even go? When you were little you used to have the chubbiest, fattest cheeks, I used to pinch ’em and tug ’em and cover ’em with so many kisses, my goodness, you used to hate that! Oh honey plum, I don’t even blame you! The whole world wanted to squeeze you dry, girlie, oh yes they did. I’m sorry about that now, but oh! I couldn’t help myself, they were just so darn big! And this dress you have on, let me take a look at you. Oh wow, spin around again, that is one heck of a figure you’ve got, now don’t you! I bet you drive all the boys crazy with those legs for days and days! Oh Abby, I used to have legs for days and days before the varicose veins and the knee surgeries, let me tell you a story! You know your father’s the one that bashed in my knee with a baseball all those years ago! I was pitching to him and he hit a line drive right into my bank account! I joke about that now because he felt so bad and all those treatments cost so much money cause I could barely stand! Oh but you!! You look wonderful!!

“Lily and Gigi” by Sasha at Nova Era Bakery


Monday May 27, 2013
11:15am at Nova Era Bakery
5 minutes
names dipped from a class list

Let’s each bring a vegetable, a few vegetables, and let’s make soup. It can simmer on the stove the whole time we talk, and then, when we pause, when we’re hungry, there will be something delicious waiting. Gigi, you bring something starchy. I’ll bring onions and carrots and celery. The trifecta of the best soups. When you get here we’ll touch noses. We don’t even have to say, “Hi! Long time no see!” or anything. We’ll touch noses and we’ll go into the living room. I might need to draw while we talk because sometimes eye contact overwhelms me. Often eye contact overwhelms me. I’ll draw while you talk and while I talk you can do anything you want, anything that makes you comfortable. Bethany likes to be scratched behind her ears, if you’re at a loss for what exactly to do with your hands when I’m speaking.

Water glass, pint glass and a bottle of hot sauce (photo) by Sasha at her desk


Saturday, April 20, 2013
1:32am
5 minutes
Dip!

When I walked in you had your back to me. Your hair was a bit smooshed at the back, like you’d just woken up, or had been lying in the grass. I approached slowly. “Hey,” I said, and you turned, quickly, and I saw that you’d changed. You’d received a few crows-feet wrinkles around your eyes, your curls had a dusting of grey, your lips sloped ever so slightly downwards. You stood up quickly, to hug me, and I thought, for the first time, how strange this custom was – pressing two bodies together, heads over shoulders. Were you holding your breath? You held on. I had initiated the pulling away, but you were having none of it. “It’s been too long,” you whispered. I imagined that your eyes were closed and as I did, you moved your hand across my back, the way my father does. When you were ready, you pulled back and held me at arms length. You drank me in. “You’ve gotten more beautiful,” you say. “I always knew you’d be one of those people that grow into themselves, that get more and more beautiful as they get older,” you continue, red rising in my cheeks from way, way, down. “Stop,” I say, quietly. “No…” You respond. I sit down in the booth, opposite you. You’ve already ordered me a pint of beer. Yours is three quarters done. Only your face has changed, I guess. Your bad habits are rooted.