Posts Yesterday’s Hallway

Yesterday’s Hallway

by treenaorchard

Every time I lean against the kitchen counter or make a slow move to grab something from the closet, I am grateful. I feel heavy and grounded and light and spacious. Even when my mind is doing a frightening array of tasks at the same time, whirring speedily, I know I have the space for it. Haven’t left the house for days? It’s ok. Can’t remember the last time I had a bath? It’s ok. New veins on my face? It’s ok. 

No one will see me that often. And it so happens that sometimes, after a face mask or exceptionally good nap, the lines puff out for an afternoon of smiles and sweets. They lay a bit closer to the bone later on, but that’s ok. I’m not putting on a show or wanting to look different than I do, necessarily. I’m just talking about the way I see myself and the joys I have in keeping it inside. 

I’m not hiding, I’m manifesting.

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve sat on my semi-clean area rug in the living room, with art and cats around me, awake in my evolution. Sometimes I’m crying, sometimes I’m reeling with happiness bent over a book that has just pushed open something new. Sometimes, I’m jotting keen notes about a paper on the back of a red envelope from a Valentine’s Day card. 

The world is everywhere, and I am too. I bring them together with my hands and my synapses and my daydreaming. I love to daydream.

Almost three years after receiving the funds for a research study about sexual cultures at Western University, I submitted the first peer-reviewed paper. It’s a powerful analysis of how sexual terminologies among undergrad students capture a series of intersecting issues related to sexual and gender-based violence: LGBTQ2IA+ marginalization, cultural appropriation, bro culture, and institutional neglect. A former student assisted with the paper, and we submitted it to the journal Sex Education.

I’m working on another one about safety, which I’ll keep quiet about for now. It’s going to be a heavy hitter too. We were interviewed, me and my student-author, by a journalist who is writing a story for Maclean’s magazine about rape culture on campus. It was so therapeutic to share our experiences with her and it felt so good to be listened to. Unlike the debacle in September and the horrible aftermath following the assaults, including being ignored STILL by the co-leaders of the taskforce. 

Releasing this paper into the reviewer ether was hard and hard-fought. I wonder whose inbox the editor delivered it to? I have no clue who will read it, but I know it’s strong and it will make a difference, especially to the students who know how much I care about them. 

Doing this work feels so good and is a lot to carry.

After pressing send I sort of caved into myself while doing some stretches on my yoga mat. I was listening to “What is this Love” by Blue Rodeo, featuring Sarah McLaughlin. Girls—the species who love to listen to sad songs when they’re feeling sad! It never ends. As I cradled my wet hands in my face, the two cats came up to me immediately. Elliott rubbed her pudgy orange self into my vulnerability and Jhona wound his long black tail around my swollen heart. 

“I’m not sad” I told them softly, but I sort of felt sad, actually. The sense of letting go can feel like a loss, even though it lightens the load and creates space for new, sometimes better energies. The sadness is also linked with the album this song is from- Five Days in July (1993). We saw Blue Rodeo many times, often a few sheets to the wind and sometimes on funny fungi. I remember being in the park by the river, so close, and watching them climb up the humble little staircase onto the stage. 

They looked a bit stoned, and I wondered if they thought Saskatoon was a bumpkin place compared to their mecca of Toronto.

I heard years later that they envisioned this album as being a reply to or their own version of Neil Young’s sound. A passing of the golden bough. I remember that one guy who played all these songs for me in his 6th floor apartment, complete with a black bear skin on one wall and curios from the arctic. He’d also play them on the phone in the days we still talked and in the days we still talked on phones that were attached to our homes, not our hips. 

He is from the past, and it’s ok. Hearing these songs always pulls up a cache of heavy and meaningful memories, the kind that timestamp my life as a woman growing up, uncertain but strong, very wild but also brave. It’s my own Mariana Trench. Like that crescent shape on the ocean floor, the deepest spot in the earth- those songs, that time, those men, the mistakes, the pleasures, the many lessons- they are my depth and my geography. 

What is this dream that I’ll never find?
What is this prayer that’s stealing my mind?
What is this deal that I’ve just made with fate?
And I wonder if I have left it too late

I think we all have these albums, people, and threads of who we were saved and stored and secreted away in our laptops, old drawers of things, and the inside doors at the end of the yesterday’s hallway. It’s ok. 

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Dr. Treena Orchard

London, Ontario

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