Onion Women

onion heart

We are very average women in the way that we wake up and make up ourselves in the morning. We are very average in how we are working towards our dreams by educating ourselves and living raw experiences, and never – not ever – referencing fairytales. And we are very average in how we have a fundamental need to be perceived as women. As strong women, learning, on our own and together, to live and to love.

General banter that might seem aimless to others always kept us so in-tune, and so, well, together.

“Right? You need to buy them.”
“But I’m kinda in the negative integers lately.”
“Except, they’re gorgeous. They’re like the ultimate form of transportation that you’d want on your feet – and, you deserve them. Sounds priceless to me!”

Through such genuine and loving peer pressure, Gab would buy the shoes, although having a sadder bank account for it, and our friendship flourished in these moments.

She and I grew up together, and over the years, while the style of our discourse swayed and changed in response to time and situation, our enthusiasm never did.

No matter the cause, we needed to see each other a minimum of four times per week, because when we didn’t, the whole world ended. I don’t mean to say that our world specifically had ended. I literally mean: the.entire.world.

Clocks stopped; refrigerators shut down; yogurt turned sour, and bank accounts hit zero. A great depression.

When we’d meet, we still talked about shoes, and the most honest mascaras on the market over cups of tea or wine. We’d discuss in serious tones our butts in pairs of skinny jeans on Friday nights, and only Friday nights. As each season changed, we became increasingly required to be there for each other in ways which no one had prepared us for. Not long after we were forced to become the real femmes fatales of Montreal – and not in practice, but in conversation — boys became an integrated part of our lives.

You see, it was sort of like progressive rock, in the sense that by day we were students and part-time workers at jobs we openly and tumultuously hated, but by night our café meetings riffed into harmonious discussions of the day’s messes, and what the other had to offer as advice. We had similar experiences.

We would deal with various life situations ranging from

the girl in front of us who was significantly incapable of following the metro floor stickers clearly indicating the proper flows of traffic

to,  hurtful family feuds

to, what always seemed like the biggest growing pain of all: heart breaks.

As much as Gab and I were a tandem of steel, cutting down obstacles and stopping boys in their tracks, calling them out on their degenerate dispositions and unredeemable forms of “respect,” sifting through heaps of sand trying organically to find the right men– we still had tender hearts. Onion hearts. They’d be cut to bits in hot times and the pain and frustration would send us crying, but once we got to the very center of any femme-like dilemma, the crying would cease. We’d find relief. At that point, we always understood that the truest form of love, of genuine, 21st century love, was something we had already formed together long ago when we talked about the most honest mascaras, – and pointed out 12 reasons why tights are not a justifiable pant.

I like to think that we always got along so well because — although having grown in different wombs – we came from the same mineral, and therefore had the same hearts. It seemed less of an alignment of the stars “as we came into one another” and more of a scientific rule.

“Oh, you will not believe this Tamara. You will not even. You can’t even understand what he just said to me!”

“You’re killing me. Tell!!”

Butterflies gushed through my blood stream.

“It’s so ridiculous!”

“Gab! We talked about this. No suspense. I can’t handle that.”

“Jeff I told you about asked me to have dinner tomorrow night – which would otherwise be really tempting considering how charming he is – but he seems to have slipped up. He.Called.Me.Babe. Excuse me, I’m not your babe. You can’t just call someone babe. ‘Babe,’ ‘b’ and/ or the use of ‘bae’, let me tell you…”

“…Is reserved for husbands, boyfriends, serious guys, you’re seriously dating, not first date dinner names! Gab, say…”

“…No. I already said no, and gave him verbal abuse for it. I was like, ‘Babe? I’m not your babe. I’m Gab. My name is Gabrielle but I will let you call me Gab.’”

“Yes!” I exclaimed from home, alone sitting crossed-legged on a kitchen chair, and gleaming so proud.

It was moments like those where our brains collided and telepathy truly existed in the universe. And if I ever ran into Gab, unplanned, on the street, waiting for the same bus, I’d recommend anyone to buy a lotto ticket because moments like those were impossible. I mean, if Gab is not with me, she does not exist and vice versa. That’s how our tandem worked.

It was a weekday evening this time. We met in a coffee shop, traditionally so, with urgency, but everything tasted like November. She agreed. Each sip of tea had a monthly after-taste to it: how it poured over the cup’s lips, wetting ours too, was like the first day of a cold month when you’re having an impossible time finding any good chapstick. So your tongue does the worst trick.

The way a crowd of air would dawdle in when the front door of the café was pulled open by someone’s clawing hand on the handle had the scent of damp people looking for the same thing we were: warmth. The heaters were on, emitting equal affection to anyone near them, but they weren’t on a high enough degree for it to be a January night for anyone. It was early November and I had just met someone.

“Do you remember that guy from last semester that used to sit beside in a leather jacket, always, and would just talk about how drunk he got over the weekend, or how drunk he debatably was in that present moment? Okay, well yesterday he sent me a message saying, ‘Do you want to have sex with me?’ “

We took sips of our teas, staring plainly into one another’s minds.

“I hope you said yes,” I knew she wished, sarcastically.

“I was livid, like, what is wrong with people!?”

“Honestly,” she admitted, “that’s disgusting. That’s really disrespectful. What even makes you think that that’s okay.”

“Never mind ‘okay’. More like, what makes you think that, a) I would do that, and b) that that’s a hook for people? Like some sort of literary device! Obviously, he asked so bluntly because this works. This is something that works on other women.”

We finished our teas at the same rate, and although the story had happened to me, she maintained the same negative outlook on the world that I had. I always liked that about her. I never had to tell her why something was awful – she just mirrored.

When we left the café and rode home, I parked outside of her house knowing we would sit there and continue talking until anyone called looking for us. When we finally felt as though enough had been said – which was usually just when a large truck wouldn’t dare to pass in between the large space I had made sure to leave – we’d lean over the car’s consol, and hug. No one was ever watching as far as we were concerned, but we would hold these hugs longer and longer it seemed each time we had a date. We made sure to tell each other I love you because we were pretty sure that no man would ever mean it in the same way that we did.

Recently it’s November again and we see each other every full, and half moon – every two weeks. We’re both sort of chasing our dreams now, are fending off monsters from the real world, and have fallen into love with men who passed the tryouts.

Our rare hugs, especially now, have turned into huge ceremonial moments where crowds of clapping people surround us with applause, encouraging us to hold on to one another a little longer. They shout with joy and are smiling as they witness our onion hearts colliding in the middle of our chests. And somewhere, there’s a powerful voice that tells us that we survived the test of time, that we’re finally women.

The lights dim, the crowd quietens, and we are back in the café.

Tamara Nazywalskyj is a Dawson College student in the Arts, Literature and Communication Program. She has a blog called The Lives of Many Lives and is a keen observer of Montreal life.