Cold Confessions At the Peace Arch

peace arch lovers

The wind rips through hard, a roar of the arctic, cutting through layers of clothes. Silver and I huddle closer together. The warmth of his body puts me in a relaxed state where I am not particularly chatty, but I just want to stay nestled up.

We have made a spot in the park out of two blankets and a flocked back plastic tablecloth, plus pillows and it is almost comfortable. Each of us are well wrapped, and our coats never come off.

It’s there about -1 to -4 C before wind chill. That’s quoted as between -10 and -20 C. Much of the time, today, it’s only two pale faces in a swathe of layers. We must be in love to put up with this.

Somewhere a snowsuit and sweater fetishist must be having a moment, but we look so ridiculous it whips around back into the romance of deprivation. Under the blanket hands steal under clothes, secretive and private. We are sure to keep what kinks you can pass in the bitter winter to ourselves.

I want to go to sleep with him there. We repeat endlessly how much we want the luxury of a private bed. We imagine cabins, apartments, hotel rooms, hot baths. I imagine camping, that even this would go on and on, putting us back in time to where we can’t get more shelter but we won’t have to part. There is a sensuality, even in the plaintive lack of immediate comfort.

My Property and I, in love and unable to shelter together any other way than this.

It’s a patently ridiculous situation, hemmed in by the sort of NIMBY suburb so opposed to access the nearest bus is a 45 minute walk away. News articles write their increasingly impatient pleas to make this park loophole impossible too.

The media has gotten firmer about the the whole border thing, too. When we (Canada) realized various politicians were jetting off to the Carribean and Mexico, it caused a career ending scandal for a few people. Add discovering that people who can’t afford to skip the usual winters in Canda via Florida realized that some of the people who could weren’t going to stop, and restrictions ate getting stricter. More tests, ridiculous hotel confinements. All of course waived for “essential” travel, making me feel deeply uncomfortable with the use of the medical system to be punitive.

But this is it’s own thing. The park is the border, neutral ground neither over nor in.

In Canada, fear of the border makes a convenient scapegoat for a country that, if better than the US, plays acceptable math with community spread. Love and touch are luxuries right now. 

I write this expecting to be seen as a selfish villainess. Although I already mentioned I am not so inclined to risk traveling the air route because I might carry something over or back in the morass of travel, there is a risk in maintaining even this bubble. Even if we both work from home and live clipped lives of smallness, with minimal contact with others, I still worry about it.

And hey, I am not like the UK, which accidentally banned sex with people outside of your household.  My governments are sympathetic to the fact that a household to cram your loved ones and childcare together is an uneven privilege, even if having to make practical exceptions in their guidelines creates and ambiguous mess that is open to self serving rationalizations.

I fear I will hurt someone else. I get anxiety watching movies with crowd scenes where everyone is unmasked. I live in a cloud of guilt that a kiss I call a need could be deadly.

It probably won’t hurt anyone else. But because I am not supposed to, even if I am allowed to, I cannot cleanly cleave what is and isn’t ultimately ok. It’s the usual mix of “badness” in sex and love.

Certainly the vitriol I get can be unintentionally hilarious. A few months back, hearing I got Covid, someone wrote that I deserved it for “travelling to the US to do sex work”. When you are reminded that the average person can’t conceive of a domme doing it for her own gratification, slut shaming meets erasure meets just world fallacies. 

My covid was definitely community transmission back when it all started, but we want to believe that only bad people get it. We want to believe it’s a binary, not a nasty lottery with just enough human agency to fight over.

Is it better or worse to feel powerless about covid or to be angry, because control seems almost in your grasp?

I do also have a degree of self awareness here of my privilege. There’s thousands of couples like me, sincerely in love, who at current prediction will be separated between March 2020 and October 2021. Not everyone can manage 2 weeks of seclusion. And Covid is very real, as I know so from surviving it, as did Silver back when it first made landfall, both waiting out an illness like something out of an old novel. Bed bound, weak, lungs scorched like we had breathed in bleach.

But reading the news articles about the Peace Arch Park, with leading questions about crossing a border in a way that isn’t happening, and clumsy whining crop-quoted from Whiterock and the area otherwise around the park, is a reminder that some people already think you are scum.

In the neighbourhood around the park, they worry people visiting will “come into their community”, a laughable statement in the rows of houses without even a corner store. There is no local community to intrude into, just a nicely walled development of tidy little houses. And the residents are not thinking about the larger Surrey or even Greater Vancouver area, much less the province or country. Their community is a bubble, a fortress forty five minutes walk from the nearest public transit.

 For decades the locals of this neighbourhood have hopped the border for cheap gas and groceries, circumnavigating various taxes by living in close proximity to the US. Now the daily line of cars is gone, only a few essential travelers tick by, and there are six tents up in the little wooded area. I think to myself that this neighbourhood has gone out of it’s way to keep free from the transient population, cutting itself off from the rest of city and visible evidence of inequality, only to end up with the so called “conjugal tents” in no mans land here.

It’s not justice, but it is irony.

Lest you think the Peace Arch is a hive of the lovelorn only, it’s also still being used by locals.

From time to time a person walking a dog passes through, or similarly in and back out groups or singles to stretch their legs. Fury and fear of diseased outsiders doesn’t limit still using the green space, or maybe the sort of people who own dogs are not those who petition MLAs to shut this place down.

When the Canadian side closed they said it was pressure for the traffic, not fear of Covid. Every news article since then has emphasized there are no known transmissions from this spot. Now, of course it’s more emphasized the motive was a possible hazard.

A disguised vehicle with a border patrol person circulates on 0 ave, checking for the scourge of Amazon packages and car parts. On my return, this time, they decline to search me, though I suspect it’s an unwillingness of the officer to leave their cozy vehicle.

Border police are always brisk and unfriendly, holding you under scrutiny like every interaction is an examination of miserable underclass. They were like that when the border was open, but a kiss even in the before times costs a quick brush with an armed man who wields significant state power, every time.

I have no car parts, nor Amazon parcels. I did pass Silver two things his way, a body harness of handmade leather, and little bears made marzipan, carefully molded and assembled by me.

So, the border guard sends me on my way. I leave comfort with him to the warmth of home. I wish I was generally happy right now but I am not. Not (just) because we are parted, but because the whole stupid situation with the pandemic is treading water with little energy.

Will the virus mutate too fast and outstrip the vaccine? Will we be three years deep and still navigating barriers?

I miss him when I leave with an ache of frustration that comes from not knowing when this long limbo will end. I love him. 

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