Sarah Mangle | Tourists of the Heart - Sarah Mangle

Tourists of the Heart

  • 29 Feb

  • Ashley Fortier

(Updated 2017)

Halifax is a port town.  There is tradition in social transition.

Walking down Creighton street, you get to the Citadal. Walking down Agricola you get to the Commons.  I’ll never know if you loved me. Real deep friendship love. I think that you did. The Good Food Emporium that used to be called Bob and Loris has moved to where the Pyramid used to be.  The One World Café doesn’t exist anymore. The punk apartment above Cousins is gone. The North End Diner burned down but the harbor’s still there and they built some affordable housing on Buddy Day. Michael moved to Australia.  The Ghost Bees moved to Toronto. The Art School still calls to people and they come in flocks imagining magic or fame. My Grammie moved to Wolfville. My brother’s house is being sold. His neon green house with the nice back porch. When I walk down Fuller Terrace (that used to be called Maynard), or North and Agricola I get this feeling of finally being home even though I have never lived here for longer than four months.

Megan moved to Toronto. Tara moved to Chicago.  My brother has a song about this. Don’t make me draw a circle around my friends.

We met and we were fast friends. Well, the third time we met we were easy friends that thought we understood each other.

I wanted to write that I never did anything wrong or I never did anything to hurt you but that’s not really what friendship is about. It’s not about never fucking up.

It was windy outside.  It wasn’t quite snowing.  It was late and we walked from Roberts Street to Dalhousie.  I was saying, Its dangerous when people act like they are a team but really there is a boss.  You were saying, Yeah yeah but sometimes you decide to be a boss to get things done because you get tired of the idea of togetherness when actually nothing is happening.  Renee moved to Australia and Philly and then Toronto. Yeah. Sometimes you just need to get things done. But then you have to be honest about that. It was slushy and wet.  We walked across Robie and down those streets with bigger wooden houses. The organization had grown and we needed to talk about it. We wanted new people to come in, we wanted to be inclusive but we also wanted shit to get done.  Maybe it was okay that we were a group of friends but we wanted to write grants and we wanted more people to be involved. We wanted to grow but we wanted to hold onto some of the power. We were walking to the Dal Student Union to do the zine radio show. Tonight the show was about critiquing travel zines.  Neither of us had prepared enough. I think all I had to say was, Just don’t be a wanker. Don’t write like you’re an explorer of a new land. Don’t overly romanticize your experience. Keep that for your private diary. Do some research. Learn something valuable and write about that. But we had a whole hour to fill.  We read bad zines and good zines on the air. What made us think we had something valuable to say? Maybe we were just like those bad zines. We had piles of more zines that we didn’t have time for.

When it’s not about getting the girl, or stealing the girl.  When it’s not about people holding on to our own true love and everyone else can go fuck themselves or everyone else should just understand and step back and protect the romantic love – you had the things I was looking for.  I wanted to hold those things. I wanted to come back for those things. I wanted us to be friends forever and to have the beautiful things we did just grow and grow. I wanted to be able to commit and plan and execute more and more beautiful things.  And I wanted you to challenge me and hold those spaces with me. I wanted those things from you. It wasn’t as if you disappeared quickly. You actually took your time. I just didn’t know how to recognize it. I kept telling myself I was your friend even though we didn’t really spend any quality time after a while.  There was that one night when I didn’t take the radio job in Halifax, and decided to move away to Guelph and you thought I had deliberately not told you and hoped that you would find out through Renee. You were so mad and hurt you could only have cared more than you let on. You talked about caring for me as if I was your partner.

You are a cul de sac in my brain and it sucks.  My memory circles back to you and I hate it. I was at a zine reading last night. One of the people wrote her zine in Halifax. I thought of you.

You left me with my hands open wondering where it went and how I could’ve done a better job to protect it. I protected myself from your love and when I decided that was what I wanted, when I decided that I wanted your love, I wanted to be your friend I had decided it because you were already leaving.  You were already packed up and it was safe for me then. It was safe for me to say.

We are tourists of the heart.  You look out the little window and what do you see. Friends in rain boots in the backyard, leaning over a half built wooden structure.  Cameron and Renee have dropped by to build a light table for the studio or fix the roof. Tim wants to climb out the window to look at the stars.  Someone wants to use the long stapler. Someone wants to use the computer printer and it was working yesterday but now it is not. Someone is passing through towns, train hopping and is looking for the zine on train hopping.  Someone fell out of the tree out front and needs a glass of water and a clean kleenex. You and me go upstairs to your room and sit on your bed. The door doesn’t really close. The cat comes in. It’s started snowing. The phone rings.  Someone calls up to you. You’re wanted on the phone. The bedspread is yellow. We plan out a three year project that involves grants and publications and going to Newfoundland and the Banff Centre for the Arts. And we say we will really do this project.  We will really do it this time. I move back to Montreal. I get a handwritten letter on a diner placemat. You write, Its okay that we never actually do the things we say we are going to do. I’ve resigned myself to this because I was getting disappointed.  I don’t know how to say I don’t know how to follow through because I want to follow through so bad but I don’t know how to follow through.

You were moving from Halifax to Somewhere in Alberta.  You told everybody the plan was to move back to Halifax eventually.  That makes it easier to leave. You were driving across the country visiting all your friends in different places along the way. Delia was having a Hanukkah party at her house on Ontario Street. You had never been to Guelph where I had lived for a year.

I bought 2 tall cans in the downtown mall and went to wait for your bus to come in.  You arrived a little after 4:30pm. The sky was already dark and it was cold and drizzly.   I gave you a hug, and you said you were getting back on the 6pm bus to go to Toronto. An hour and a half was insulting to me.  I offered you a beer. You declined. There wasn’t really any time to do anything. We walked through downtown and then down along the river. We walked slowly.

“I led you on, I shouldn’t have done that.” you said. I drank the beer.

I said, “I don’t trust you anymore. I don’t want to have this conversation”

I said, “Do you want to see my house?”

We took a quick walk around inside.  I invited you to the Hanukkah party but you said no and got on the bus. I walked to the Hanukkah party and was happy I had somewhere to go.

I am a Leo.  I want so bad to be the guy who does impressive things and follows through but instead I just talk about all the things I will start.  That’s not always true. Sometimes I do follow through. We walked down the street and we saw Smiley and his friend and they were on skateboards and they had a tape deck blasting music and they pushed a shopping cart that was empty.  Making it easier to go. Making it easier to say goodbye. Making it easier to leave. I could not tell you all the things I needed to say. That is normal. It made it harder for me to talk about leaving town or coming to town. Jamie got evicted from her place on Gottingen St.  We had a talk about gentrification in her living room. I was just stopping through town to record an album. Michael spray-painted GENTRIFUCKATION on a condo. It was eventually washed off or faded and then The Coast took a photo of it and photo-shopped it so that the spray paint still showed as if it was fresh as if it were still there.  Dani moved back to Halifax from Albany. Someone started a bike-powered weed selling business with cute business cards. Burrito Bike happened once a week. My brother played dice on his back porch. Michael turned 30 and threw a big party. An all women DJ collective started. Patrick played basketball and worked at the Centre for Art Tapes with his wild eyes and pale floppy hair.   Art kids projected art films in abandoned lots on the sides of buildings. Every so often a white person got beat up. Indie Rock shows at Gus’s pub that was recently painted bright red. Gay heroes came to Halifax to host art workshops at the Youth Project. Someone made a super8 film about biking around. Lisa, Smith and Walter got jobs in the public libraries. It rained. Charlie’s was a cool place to hang out for a second.

You gave firm hugs with good pauses. You made sustained eye contact. You said serious things that sounded funny so people laughed at the serious things you said.  You sold yourself short. You accepted too little pay for the work that you did. You had a beautiful meticulous peculiar brain. You liked to read. You had unique and surprising analysis.

We don’t tell the same story.

We were in my kitchen and I turned my back to turn off the burner and you climbed out the window, jumped down from really high up and the breeze blew the curtain forward.   The curtain blew in the wind.

Dirty hands wash the dirty dishes.

You read all the couples books you could.  Piled them up by your bed. You stacked them up under the mattress. Laid them flat on the bed and pressed your body onto them.