Even Paul (the guy who sat next to me on the VIA Train and started chatting even though I was in process of putting in my earbuds and simultaneously thinking “oh God, a talker,” but then he turned out to be a pretty affable fellow who also studied philosophy and had respectable taste in music and turned me on The Delgados (a gesture for which I am still grateful)) knew that travelling 9 hours and 47 minutes to visit my ex-girlfriend was a questionable idea.
But I did it.
I made it to Montreal. The two of us were strolling McGill campus when an object in a store window stopped me dead. A painting on wood of this boy carrying a basket of apples. One precisely like it had hung in the house I grew up in. It was like being hit in the chest with a sack of memories. “Wanna go in?” she asked. I shrugged it off and we walked on.
Months later I get a package in the mail. She had bought it for me, and—anticipating my quick-to-angst nature—included a simple note on the back:
Don’t protest. Just enjoy.
I no longer have the artifact, but the sentiment has proven valuable all these years.