Friday, August 24, 2007
A Sort of Homecoming
‘Good times with old friends’ is what I wrote. In the documentary of our lives there is so much that goes unrecorded and unspoken that is so difficult to articulate, like that sadness that is missing someone wherever I go. This is the price the global citizen pays for mobility.
Every summer I fall in love in a new city. I fall in love again with old friends, fall in love anew with new ones.
There’s a goodbye party because meeting all these splendid lovers individually is physically impossible on a chronically tight schedule. So in one night they flash before me in a parade where every float carries the significance of the fact that I won’t see it again, at least not for a while.
As evening ticks into morning, I collect the hugs of the ones I just got to know and the ones I thought would never end. And I feel so heavy, weighted by the sadness of the ones who dare to cry, to say that it’s a sad day. I love them the most in this moment of departure.
The party is organic and free range, dynamic and boisterous. At one point a bunch of 30-something white folks are dancing to Billy Jean (but who else would these days?) and they all want to moonwalk. Some flow out onto the deck to stargaze – supposed to be a meteor shower tonight. The conversations are fleeting and soft despite the gravity pulling us together this last time.
I hug everyone goodbye including the ones I barely spoke with because there were just too many competing interests among us. So many good people assembled here.
It was a brief summer of brief encounters, squeezing too much into too little time and too much space. It felt much like Christmases of the past decade, in and around that cottage by the shore in the East. Over the years the numbers there have diminished but not the quality.
It is inevitable now that the same will happen at the centre of the universe I’ve inhabited, built up, settled, where I’ve connected, lived and loved. It is the price I pay for my homecoming, to return to the place where I belong.
It's tough to decide who to give the original award to because everybody's original, especially in Blogland [a term I deem to be superior to 'the blogosphere']. That's the joy of the medium, we aren't restricted by any gatekeeper BS norms. But anyway, I'm giving it to Ivan because I never know what'll come up at that guy's url, and he says what he says with great style. To paraphrase the great Justin Rutledge, even when he's full of shit it's music to my ears.
For the Awesome Guy one, that's easy. I give it to my long time (well over a year now) blogger buddy Ultra Toast Mosha God. He's got to be the friendliest blogger out there. Yeah I've seen him go into attack mode, but that's only because he was defending somebody. He's loyal like that, and he's as nice in person as online.
That's how it is.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Hope all are well; seeya soon.
Labels: subway novel
Friday, August 10, 2007
This homecoming gave me a chance to check up on my old friend Brown, who plays basketball like they did in the NBA before black people were allowed to play, like you see sometimes in those old video clips, with underhanded granny moves. He was uncannily effective with that stuff. We’d been friends about 15 years by then, ever since grade three when we got into a fight over which Beatles album was the greatest. (Abby Road, obviously.) After that we started calling ourselves the 2 Stooges and built a relationship by going around school and making fun of everyone we knew.
Brown had recently graduated from Golf Course Management School in PEI and was back working for a golf course in Dartmouth for the summer. He was gladder to see me than I expected; I guess he was preparing himself for a somewhat dull summer with no one too exciting around to hang with. We always got along really well because we have the same sense of humour, which consists of acting like fools around each other and making each other laugh in the most mundane of circumstances. His presence made up for what I’d just left behind.
After a day or two of sitting around with Brown, doing not much of anything, I went to the second of many orientations that were to prepare me for hosting a St. Lucian forestry officer in my parents’ home. There I met Nigel, who would be my counterpart for the duration of the program, meaning he would live and work in BB with me for 2 1/2 months, then I would live with him in St. Lucia for the next 3 months.
By the time the Nova Scotian posse met the St. Lucians, the latter group of Nigel, MC, Li and Zany, had already spent the week together in an apartment in Halifax and were pretty close.
The one on one conversation that weekend was a little awkward between Canadians and Lucians, I guess because of the cultural differences, and the accents. But as a group conversation flowed well, and everybody laughed a lot. The initial conversation between Nigel and myself was no exception, and we kind of stared at each other for a bit, then nodded at each other, said, "Hey, how's it going?" then the ever so timid barrage of questions began. What do you eat? What's your weather like this time of year? What music do you like? Brothers? Sisters? How old are you? What do you do for fun? and so on. I was surprised to learn that he, at the age of 24, had two kids aged 4 and 1, with two different mothers, to neither of whom he was married.
During the first orientation with just the Canadians, we were told that Lucians are not heavy drinkers, but Nigel's biggest interest turned out to be "drinking beer," which he pronounced be-yare. He didn't play sports, didn't really play an instrument, but just enjoyed his beer. We had also been told that Lucians don't swear, but I could tell right away that wasn't true, especially in Nigel's case. We'd been told that Lucians are very religious, but Nigel hadn't set foot in a church for 14 years.
The conversation was slow and awkward, and we kind of just took each other in and sized each other up. He was about six feet tall, maybe 170 pounds, had a huge toothy white smile, and a mischievous look in his eyes. I soon learned that he liked to say funny things, like when he bought a 'push-up' ice cream that used a plastic stick to push orange sherbet to the surface, he broke the stick in the process and grinning a ridiculous child-like grin said in his heavy Caribbean accent, "I broke my poosh-up." He spent money at a ridiculous rate, ate a lot of food, drank almost every day, and ate, drank and lived forestry, for which he worked as a conservationist in St. Lucia. I liked him right away.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
RE-A is a brilliant mind, a mathematician who can formulate numbers to predict any observation. “A good model explains little and predicts much,” he says. “Religion is therefore not a good model.” Hence the mystery is exposed and nothing is revealed, on we march like well-programmed tin formulas, enacting our functions and understanding our purpose, not wasting efficiency on other musings.
His flipside is a cross-country stargazer who hopes to cure the woes of the third world with crystals and play; it hasn’t occurred to her that crystals cost too much and the only toys their children see are the ones we no longer want, the castoff velveteen rabbits of our teenaged rebels. She dodges and deflects the unstoppable penetration of RE-A’s critical questions and sends them out into the cosmos with capitalism’s castawaste. She dances barefoot in the garden until her body falls prey to the poor posture of navel-gazing, and her 12 organic pill-a-day habit hasn’t stopped her headaches. Her 6-month dormancy can’t quite compensate for RE-A’s over-productive tendencies to predict marketplace pop-ups and help the hoarding rich folks blame Africans for their own failings, something she fails to question in lieu of non-verbal tendencies. “Let’s paint left-handed swirls instead,” she says, “and shake off our mother’s prenatal loneliness, play with our own inner child,” the one he could never see with his x-ray machine.
Monday, August 06, 2007
The first seven weeks of the summer of 1998 were some of the best and simplest times of my life. My girlfriend and I were back together and were living together for the first time in almost a year. We also worked together and that went better than I'd hoped because we managed to keep our distance at work.
I can't say much about that time except that we had fun, simple vegetarian fun, and rarely had conflict. Work was hard but interesting, money was plentiful enough, our home was good other than the roommates who spent too much time fighting over trivial things.
We had each other, and were deeply in love and as close as we ever could be. We spent a mid-June night in a 2 1/2 star hotel near Pearson Airport just West of Toronto. It was half-price because it was under renovation, but it was nice enough. That night we had a stupid fight that I think was caused by the painful feeling that I was leaving behind the only thing that would ever really matter in my life.
We got over it and cried a lot of tears but when the morning came I held her in my arms and hoped for some kind of future forever. And then I went to the airport and nothing in my life has been quite so typical since.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Timing: April 2007
We’ve managed to throw the cheddar medical system into quite a tizzy. It seems this may be the very first case of Malaria in this sleepy township. Maven’s got the killer headache that twice before has indicated the mosquito sickness. The local general practitioner flew into a proper panic when he heard the word. “A mistake has been made!” he proclaimed. “You should not be at a general practitioner!” Although said GP has more letters after his name than all the experts in Ghana, those doctors wouldn’t panic if a busload of heart attack victims crashed into their clinic.
After several phone calls we found a hospital that agreed to do the necessary blood-work and we’re on our way. First we had to register then wait. Then answer questions about our problem, then wait in another room. Then answer more questions about the problem, then wait. Then Maven had to lie down to answer questions about the problem and give blood. The young and serious doctor refused to crack a smile as he asked if Maven felt up to returning to the first waiting room or preferred to remain horizontal. And we waited. In fact we waited out the doctor and another was on shift by the time we gathered the courage to ask how the tests were coming. Five more minutes till they led us to another room, this one with beds, one of which was assigned to hold Maven. We waited, 4 ½ hours in all, until two men and a woman gathered 10 feet from us to discuss Maven’s case just loud enough for us to overhear bits of it. Finally Dr. Singh told us that there was no sign of malaria in the blood, and that Maven’s symptoms were not severe enough to be cerebral malaria, but since she has no fever it could be a case of undetectable malaria. He added that the hospital can’t prescribe anti-malarials based on unconfirmed suspicion – they can be prescribed only when Maven starts peeing blood. The GP, however, could have prescribed drugs, had he not panicked.
Dr. Singh told us not to worry – he comes from another country where malaria is no big deal and drugs are given over the counter. “That’s because they don’t have the diagnostic tools we have here,” he said. “So it may take 4 ½ hours instead of ½ an hour but you at least know you get the right treatment” once you pee blood. In the meantime, you take aspirin and water and sleep on your giant throbbing head.