Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Weekend

Last night we 3 fought for half the drive; were silent for the other hour. Each was lost in our own whirlpool of self-pity and woe, hurt by the others lack of considerate attention. Personally, I just closed my eyes to the black countryside and tried to lose myself in the music blasting over the speakers- angry, loud, aggressively upbeat music.
We arrived at the farm and were greeted by two large, hairy dogs. Looked more ferocious than they were of course. Walked into the main house and the light and warmth and delicious smells emanating from the oven were just sideshows, appetizers, tasters, compared to the love and acceptance of the older couple waiting for us.
We stopped bickering for their sake, and helped finish up the salad and sat down to eat. The meal went smoothly, with only a few pricks and barbs here and there tossed across the table, sideways, up and down, landing and hitting their target but with no visible retaliation. What was wrong with all of us? Each side of our triangle was fracturing, stretching our ties. It had never happened like this before. Of course we all fought, but never at once, and never with such intensity.

It was warm enough to have a bonfire outside, so we sat in 3 wooden Adirondack chairs pulled close to the flames. It was big; we kept on tossing on more logs so our jeans heated up and burned our legs, and it was here that we really let loose. We each emptied out our bitter poisons to the others, not letting subjects and comments slide, and we said hurtful things that normally we would hold in, that normal people would hold in. But the big black starry sky seemed to draw out the worst in us. Maybe it was the wood smoke, stinging our eyes. Maybe the chill creeping in through our rubber boots and freezing our toes. Maybe the coyotes and the mules making their various sounds, and unsettling us.

Maybe we were all just tired. Maybe it was stress. Maybe none of us had the energy to care enough to wonder that what we were saying had weight, that maybe this wasn't the time or the place to be unloading on each other. Maybe none of us plain old cared about the others. Maybe it was the weather, the more dark and less light, maybe it was "that time of month", maybe we had problems we weren't sharing. Maybe...

My mom has always told me my whole life that nothing stays the same. Things change, people change, you move, you stay in the same city. And you have to adjust to the change, or else you fail at life, basically (Ok, she never used those exact words.). To bloom where you're planted (She has used those words). Most adults I've met through my years aren't friends with their friends from elementary school. Or juniour high. Or high school. Rarely, you find someone who keeps in contact with an old college roomie, a best-friend from university. This never used to strike me as sad, in fact, the opposite would occur. When I met an adult who still had friends from their childhood, it would seem sort of wimpy, small-town and small-minded. But what do I know, right? My views are as twisted, backwards, and messed-up as everyone else's.

So we fought. Before going to bed, smelling of glorious woodsmoke and fresh air, one of them mentioned to me that she felt angry. I told her I felt hollow. Yes! she said, Hollow and empty and mean.
Exactly. Hollow. Empty. Mean. Angry.
Woke up twice in the night to throw on logs to the cabin fire -place so we wouldn't freeze. It was a team effort, all three of us moving in the dark to hold the flashlight, find the matches, toss in the wood and get it started again. We didn't speak. Just stood half-dead with tiredness and prayed that the coals hadn't gone out completely. Stumbled back up the loft ladder.

It was light when we got up and ran back to the main house for breakfast. Pancakes and eggs and bacon. Coffee and orange juice. Good food, warming and filling food, good for your soul food. It helped a little. Each day is a chance to start fresh, a new chance to make things right. We made a bit more of an effort. Before we left after breakfast, we went charging around in the woods for 1/2 hour, scaring partridges and getting mud on our boots, pine needles in our hair, stirring up mist and watching the sun try to shine through a heavy grey sky. We didn't really talk on the drive back into the city, but we had some fun singing along to songs. We didn't say anything of importance.
Maybe we didn't have anything of importance to say.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I remember that it was so hot we couldn't move but we did anyways because we had to catch the night train back to Cairo. Middle of the day, and we had no food and K was stuck in the bathroom and I was grumpy and tired but we went out at noon anyways and walked up and down the dusty main street looking for a supermarket to buy peanuts and ginger ale. Tried to stay out of the sun by sticking to the edges of the street, staying under the awnings, but the heat still dragged us down of course.
That night, instead of being hot we froze in the air-conditioned train, and I pulled out my sleeping bag and slept on the filthy floor with my head under the seat with the trash. Mahmoud called the McDonalds at one of our stops, and so we had McDonalds cheeseburgers delivered at midnight to our train. It was completely surreal.
By daybreak the airconditioner was broken, and I woke from my shallow dozing drenched in sweat as the sun started to pour in.
I wanted to go home lots on my trip. There were quite a few moments when I longed for the crisp Canadian Fall, for bonfires and leaves falling and sweaters and scarves. I would daydream about the wide open spaces of the prairie with the biggest sky I have ever seen, about the unpopulated wild mountains and tundra and the OCEAN. About hiking for weeks without running into another human.
But mostly I just missed my family. If I could have transported them to be with me, I would have. I didn't miss home enough to seriously think about leaving, but the tug of family was like an insurance that I would come home at least for a little bit before leaving again.
The trick is to not think about stuff like that. Keep it locked up in your brain, and don't let your mind wander down that path.

Ugh, I'm feeling restless and trapped again. As the weather gets colder and colder, the days shorter and the nights longer, I feel like I'm in a fight with the door closed. I need that door to stay open.

I remember running around Rome by myself. Sometimes after class I would get so bored, feel so claustrophobic with the same people constantly around me, I would just have to leave. I would catch the metro out to Vatican City, get gelato and fill up my water bottle at my favourite fountain, sit and watch the fat tourists. Once or twice I wandered up and down the Tiber River, but mostly I would just find an old church and sit on the steps with my sunglasses on and write little sketches and letters. Or just people watch. The amount of people passing soothed me. The interesting things you can see if you take the time to just sit and watch!

I think I've lost my spark again. Perhaps it's drowned in the mucous of this horrible lingering cold I have?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Forward, Ho!

(Mars Hill, Athens, July 2010)

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much out of this short period in my life. It was supposed to be an intense work period, a keep-your-head-down and disappear from view for 4 months. Nothing was supposed to be out of the ordinary, I was supposed to get pimples and make no new friends. It was just a rejuvenating period between trips. A making as much money as possible time.

I should know by now. I should be prepared for the fact that Life NEVER does what is expected of it, and to be ready for wild twists and turns. It's what I love about life: the unexpected. The adventure around every corner.

It is a glorious Autumn here. Normally we have 6 feet of snow by now, but it is clear, sunny, above zero during the day. A fresh bite to the air. Smoke from bonfires every day. The geese almost all gone by now, the V's fewer and fewer every week. Christmas is coming. I am learning how to drive a stick shift. I'm settling into my second job, and last week managed to close the cafe BY MSELF without making any mistakes.
I have many new friends, mainly Nice Guy, with whom I watch reruns of Cheers, walk the dog, and cook dinner on Sundays.
I have my "chosen family", ie, K, S, and M, who smoke shisha on the back porch with me, drink martini's, and make going to hundreds of birthday parties on Whyte Ave actually manageable and slightly enjoyable.
Since I rarely get to see my real family for more than a few minutes every day, every time we have an afternoon together, or an evening, it is sweet and special.

I don't know why. Instead of being bored, or having nothing happen, I am content and thrilled by turns. It is good to be home, maybe that's it. Or maybe it's the knowledge that I'm leaving soon, like light at the end of a tunnel. I don't know. Maybe it's because I'll be coming back in May, so there is an end to travelling as well. Everything has an end.

I feel like I didn't really get a summer this year. There was no Christina Lake time for me, no Whistler family gathering, no picnics on the Ledge grounds, no picture taking expeditions. There were no hot, sweaty thunderstorms late at night, no Black Dog roof top extravaganzas. No running barefoot through the fields. Yes, I had a summer, but there was no tradition, no similarities to other summers, no continuing thread that ties my life together. Of course I don't regret it, but I am looking forward slightly to next summer when I can see all the changes I missed this year. When I can go on roadtrips to music festivals, stay up late after work, break a thousand hearts. When I can actually have time and space to process what is happening, what has happened, and to notice the details, to remember the smells, the sights, the sounds. I haven't had time to do that yet with my summer away. I'm worried I'll start to forget things, but I don't have time to slow down and go back over it. I don't have the brain space, the energy, to look back. All my essence is focused on going forward. Keeping my feet under me, like running downhill.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's that witching hour on a Monday night when the whole house is asleep at 2:30 a.m., and yet here I am, woken up and unable to sleep.
I've been having these nightmares lately.
I thought I had grown out of those sweat-breaking, waking you up with dry mouth and a pounding heart type of dreams. The ones that haunt you for weeks, months, and never lose their sense of terror even over time.
But for the past week or so, I'll be dreaming- quite peacefully and enjoyably- and then it will work it's way around to the same scenario. It's winter, middle of the day, with lots of deep drifts of snow. I'll be in the woods, just like the ones where I walk my dog every day, hardly any people just trees and steep banks of shrub. And I'll be lower down the bank just walking, when I'll look up and see this guy in an Oiler's hockey jersey (ok, so that part is kind of funny) slowly walking above me and obviously looking for something. At this point, I always get a whiff of panic, or that something's wrong, and I'll duck and hide behind a bush, staying as still as possible so he doesn't see me. Because it soon becomes clear that what he's looking for is me.
He always gets almost all the way gone, and I think that I'm safe, but at the last minute he turns his head and -impossible! I'm lying there so still!- he spots me. And starts down the bank towards me, and I get up, try to shout for help but- typical- my throat is dry, and I can barely speak. And as he gets closer I see his face: it's ugly, dead-behind-the-eyes, and he reminds me of the boorish louts I encounter sometimes when they come down from working the oil rigs.
I always wake up before he actually gets to me.
Wake up with twisted sheets, t-shirt stuck to my body with sweat, uncomfortable pillow, tense shoulders. Wake up with the intention of never closing my eyes again, of consciously thinking of bright light happy things in order to not go down that road again.
Anyways, I needed to get up. So I wandered downstairs, checked my email, and my dad comes on Skype. He is in Nepal right now, and so with the time difference it was his afternoon. I haven't talked to him since he left 3 weeks ago, so I give him a call. And when he answers I am 5 years old again and sleeping on my parents bedroom floor because I am too scared to stay in my own room. I start crying, and tell him I had a bad dream.
Hahaha, I haven't told him that in a very long time.
It made everything better, but now I miss him.
Come home safe Dad.