Introduction: Sally’s Note

5 min read

(This is the introduction to Momentum. The content deals with adult themes.)

Day 0
June 21, 2010
Vancouver, British Columbia

1,800 miles to Mexico

The note

You think it’s the kind of thing that only happens in movies. You think it’s the kind of thing that could never happen to you. But as soon as he opened the front door, Jordan could feel the emptiness in the apartment. All the lights were off. That was a bad sign. It was nearly eleven on a Monday night, and Sally had work early the next morning.

His heart was pounding as he walked down the corridor that led to the open concept living area.

When he flicked on the lights, he saw it a mess. There was stuff scattered everywhere. He entered the bedroom. The bed was unmade, the wardrobe drawers were askew, The closet was open, and her backpack and lone suitcase were missing.

“No, Sally,” he said out loud. “Not like this.”

When he spotted the chef’s knife on the bedside table, he wanted to vomit. The sharp edge glinted in the overhead light.

The apartment was on the ground floor of a condo complex in East Vancouver, right across from an elementary school with walls decorated by bright, indigenous murals. Out the window, a group of cyclists laughed loudly as they zipped through a tunnel of leafy chestnut trees. Surely, they were on their way to celebrate. It was the summer solstice—a big deal in the Pacific Northwest. For three glorious months, the wet weather was abating.

But the longest day of the year had already become the longest night of Jordan’s life. As he left the bedroom, he searched for what he already knew he would find. Sally was not the type to leave without getting the last word. So was he. Earlier that evening, before he left to watch the sunset, he’d taken a road map of Washington State and purposefully unfolded it on the kitchen table, self-righteously sending a loud message to Sally about what it was she was leaving behind. But now, the map had been neatly folded. Right on top of the map, Sally had left a handwritten note, torn out of her diary, double-sided and signed at the bottom.

Sally’s message was louder.

Before he could even pick up the note, Jordan felt the butterflies.

Searching for symbols

Every life has a moment when a metamorphosis has begun but the results are still beyond imagination. Every Story has a beginning, just like every Story must reach an end. As he read her note over and over again, Jordan hadn’t the faintest clue of the Story he’d just begun or the remarkable journey that was lying ahead of him.

He couldn’t possibly imagine the people who he would meet over the next year. He couldn’t imagine Mushroom Sam and her Jimmy, Jack the Chicken Man, or DJ and his dog, Blackjack. He couldn’t imagine Jenn, the college student who liked to speak in song lyrics, or Artist Ashley, who didn’t want to speak at all. He couldn’t imagine Jolene. He certainly couldn’t have imagined Vanessa.

And even though he’d seen pictures of the West Coast, he couldn’t imagine the experiences that lay ahead of him. He couldn’t imagine walking Highway 1 through Big Sur—the most beautiful coastal drive in the world—alone on the empty highway, with a hundred million orange California poppies in bloom. He couldn’t possibly imagine what it would feel like to be in the Redwoods. He certainly couldn’t have imagined Burning Man.

No. At that moment, as a crack opened into a new world that was full of adventure, fulfillment, and growth, Jordan was utterly consumed with what it was that he was leaving behind. He scanned Sally’s note, trying to search out hidden meanings that she might have crammed between the lines. After all, they were a couple who clung to metaphors. Symbols had formed the basis of their one-and-a-half-year relationship. And though they were both too well-educated to believe in silly things like spirituality, like destiny, they were also too romantic to shut the door on the possibility. But Sally had been uncharacteristically blunt. She was in love with both of them, and because Jordan had demanded she choose, she was left with no other choice.

No other choice but to leave like a thief in the night? He felt a sudden surge of rage. But the anger only made him feel worse. He crammed the note into the garbage. Then he unfriended her on Facebook.

Thirty seconds later, he requested her friendship again.


“how did she sign it?” asked Paul.

Jordan looked at the crumpled note in his hand. “She just put her name.”

“No sincerely? No with love?” Paul’s voice was Leonard Cohen-deep.

“No. Just Sally.” He hesitated. “Do you think that’s a bad sign?”

As always, Paul chose his words slowly and carefully. “Well, I wouldn’t say that it’s a good sign.”

Slumped against the couch, Jordan resisted the urge to reach for the bong on the coffee table.

The apartment felt like a crime scene. Sally and Jordan had been living there for less than two months—they’re fifth home since arriving in Vancouver, seven months ago, in the beginning of November, at the end of a long and tumultuous summer apart. This latest apartment was a temporary sublet, filled with the furniture and decorations of a woman they’d found on Craiglist. The Craigslist woman’s photographs were everywhere. Though everything was anonymous, everything also felt dense with meaning. Holding a Nokia bar phone to his ear—this was 2010, and Jordan still thought smartphones were a fad—he inspected the apartment, looking for clues.

He peeked under the sofa. There was one of Sally’s hiking shoes. He opened up a drawer. Sally had forgotten her British passport. Good. At least I know I’ll have to see her again. He flipped through its pages, noticing the stamps from India. He thought about how happy they’d been there, how much potential he’d felt, how madly, deeply, desperately he’d loved her.

When he picked up the home phone, the last number on the call display was from the lobby buzzer. That must have been Him. Jordan tensed again. He didn’t want to embarrass himself by exploding with rage as he was talking to Paul.

“Anyway, I think you’ll find that in the end, this is all for the best,” Paul said calmly. “I know that you loved her very, very much. But perhaps it’s time for you to find a true partner. Someone who sees you and really appreciates you. A soulmate.

“But Sally saw me and appreciated me,” Jordan said stubbornly. He bit his lip hard, trying to ward off the tears he knew were coming.

“I hear you. I hear that you’re hurt.”

Jordan rubbed the top of his bald head. “I’m not hurt, Paul. I’m just… sad. I’m just… really, really sad.” The first tears had pulled into the station. “What am I going to do now, Paul?” he whimpered. “We were supposed to walk to Mexico together. I just told everyone I knew that we were going to do it. Together. I cleared my whole life to do it.” There wasn’t much in Jordan’s life to clear. “It was her idea, and now she’s gone. To Him. That Prick.

Paul was unflappable. “Jordan, I think this is perfect.”

Perfect?” Jordan’s whole body lashed out. “My girlfriend just left me for another man. My life is in shambles. I have no job, no career, no home, no purpose. My whole life was her. And now she’s left me with a fucking note for some asshole other man that she’s probably fucking right now.” Jordan was seething. “Why the fuck do you think this is perfect?

He could hear Paul’s smile. “It’s perfect because now you get to do it by yourself.”

“But why would I want to…” Jordan glanced through the open bedroom door, eyes landing on the chef’s knife.

His whole body went numb. He couldn’t feel anything. Except the butterflies.

He couldn’t wait to get Paul off the phone so he could hit the bong.

September 1st. The first step.