Wednesday, June 14, 2017

SPIROCHETE—Spiralling Downtown 2

Bearshield with short hair.
Bearshield and I met early one morning by a fishpond in the sprawling indoor Devonian Gardens on the fourth floor of a downtown mall near my apartment. It was a reunion of souls. Forgiveness and acceptance melded in our greeting hug and then we stood back to stare at each other, laughing in surprise. We both had short hair. His had been cut for the parole board and Correctional Officers, bulls, he called them, and everyone else assigned to keep close watch and detailed documentation on every aspect of his existence. 

He’d been granted a day pass, a few unsupervised hours to see me and to look for work as steps toward reintegration into society. Our spirits were united, yet for me, a twinge of awkward caution remained. I had been betrayed and flickers of remembered doubt and anger danced in the back of my mind, memories not yet extinguished. I needed time, and he was doing it, so we eased back together. Day passes became weekend passes, and in a few months in the spring of 1992, B was released. He came home. Our reunion had blessings from Royal, B’s former counsellor Art Calling Last, and our neighbour and mutual friend Jay Heavy Shield who lived in our building.

Our family settled into a comfortable happy rhythm. Without a court dispute I had custody of Isaiah and Isaac and a restraining order against MJ. My legal issues and constant need to be on edge to face potential battles were over. My mind was at peace as the stresses of recent years lifted and the four of us found security and solace in our routines together in our inner city home. 

We joined the Friendship Centre where we took beading classes and upgraded our Blackfoot with lessons with Matthew Melting Tallow who unofficially adopted me and named me Ki’somm for Moon in all her phases. Matthew called Bearshield Kayssp for his middle-parted hair. The boys’ school friends, who lived in the suburbs, often stayed for weekend sleepovers, thrilled with the freedom to wander through the Eaton Centre and Plus 15s, explore the riverbank, swim in our pool, shoot baskets at the Eau Claire Y, and to speak freely.

With zoo, library and museum memberships life was an adventure that unfolded close to home. In silence, choosing not to complain to management because ours was an adult building and the boys weren’t yet teens, we endured weeks of harsh cold in our apartment for a couple of winters. With no heat, it was especially tough when it was minus forty degrees outside. Several nights we’d burrow into our beds wearing toques and mittens, sweatshirts over pyjamas, buried under layers of blankets, sleeping bags, and towels, to stay warm as we slept. For days we could see our breath inside and shivered as life carried on. We bought small ceramic heaters and often left the oven turned on with the door open, but they were safety concerns that offered little relief.
Family beading project designed by Bearshield

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