We play games in the car to pass the time. Driving across the country twice in two months is wearing. Three days each way. Northern Ontario-Winnipeg-Banff-Cholla-Calgary-Winnipeg-Sault St.Marie-home. Add ‘anal’ in front of the names of recreational vehicles and Winnebagos for low-brow entertainment. “Anal Explorer. Anal Adventurer. Anal King Cruiser.” Find all the letters of the alphabet, consecutively, on signs (this one is less fun to participate in if you’re the driver, and exceedingly difficult in the dull domain of the prairies.) We ask a question that everybody in the car has to answer, like “What’s the pettiest thing you’ve ever done to an ex?” or “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever lied about and gotten away with?” or “Who in the car would you trade lives with?” All three of the participants, excluding me, say they’d trade lives with me. This is my talent, my ability to story-tell, to cherry-pick the stories out of my own life and tell them to punctuate and exaggerate and enhance and self deprecate, defend. I’ve become the person I always wanted to be and it’s strange. I try to make my failures funny. “People love Hunter S.Thompson and he drunk drove and brandished handguns at assistants,” I reason. I feel like a fraud. My life has reached this weird plateau of boredom and profound meaninglessness and unhappiness. Carefully cultivated eccentricities and lofty goals, I say anything. I’m kind of rude, to be honest.
Its been a long summer of dubious choices governed by strange rules and skewed morals. “Just keep the fanny pack on, that is the only rule.” I feel estranged from life somehow. A guy at work is telling me really boring stories about parties he’s been to and I just sort of smugly smile and bite my lip. “This one time, I sat on top of a school bus with four other people and threw toilet paper at incoming newbies and shouted “Welcome to Canada!”. An Aussie backpacker learned to play the accordion in the back of a van and I sat and chain-smoked for a lifetime while we narrated some silent film in our heads about taking the children to the countryside. Buying a pack of cigarettes turned into a profound odyssey in which we end up sitting on the side of the highway wringing swamp water out of our socks and reeking of the hip-deep scum. There’s a mosh-pit at the bar and I get a split lip. Another time, I spent the entire night trying to get into cupboards. Cubbies, really. To be clear, I knew I couldn’t fit, I just thought it would be funny to try. The nudity was a calculated choice. I thought of it as a piece of performance art, throwing the contents of the cupboards theatrically out over my shoulder and dramatically opening and closing the hinged doors until finding the ‘perfect’ cupboard. So many postcards about going to Narnia exchanged.” He wouldn’t believe the half of it. I let him have this small thing, the happiness in his parties. Sitting on a camp chair in the bus aisle in a flagger-tape skirt, smoking and frying bear meat, that is not for everyone. I feel the need to collect these big moments together and live them and have them, to be authentic. Maybe the idea of writing a book has merit, after all. I write myself in as a character, sitting on top of the bus for my impromptu philosophical discourses. Here’s where I learn to fall in love again and it is so easy and so right and the goodbye never hurts. Here’s where we listen to Joni and where I forgive and confess and absolve. Getting up there for the first time is a pivotal moment. Plot device, character development. I’m terrified of heights, I get vertigo on tip-toe, but I know I’ll regret it if I don’t climb on top of the god damn bus for the year end photo, so I do it. And it gets easier every time after that, and then I find myself spending a summer climbing ladders on the side of a fucking mountain, reaching out tenuously to pluck cherries from a branch.
‘Writing is an act of courage’- I understand, now. Good writing is hard. Its vulnerable. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I want a resounding portrait of my vibrant friends, gold teeth that glint in the sun and Converse kept on with duct tape, screaming matches over boys and flaws and mistakes and love and the end, so beautiful, too. But I’m scared to lay it on the line. I’m shouting into the void and hoping I have something worth saying, hoping I can lend myself some validity, instead of just being an abject train wreck, lend my experiences some meaning and credibility to my love and joy and fear.
Stay tuned for major blog&website restructuring. I intended this to be a portfolio and it has veered away from that into some weird stream of consciousness, completely unedited, first draft crap.