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 headphones 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 actually turned me on The Delgados; a gesture for which I am still grateful) thought that travelling 9 hours and 47 minutes to visit my ex-girlfriend was a questionable idea.
But I did it, and the two of us were strolling somewhere on McGill campus when an object in a store window stopped me dead. A painting on wood of a 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. I declined to enter the store, and she and I walked on.
Months later I got a package in the mail. Sure enough 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 still have the artifact, but it’s this sentiment that’s proven valuable all of these years.