Tuesday, March 8, 2011
This week's assignment was, when meeting someone for the first time, describing a scene from your life that would help show the person your true self.
This exercise had a 600 word limit. I hate exercise. I tried. I failed.
And I think I really just wanted an excuse to share this story.
Also? Drugs are very bad Mkay?
A good friend is one who will hand you a pre-rolled as you set out on a long solo road trip.
Tommy was just such a friend. I'd driven up to Antigonish for Skip's graduation, and we'd spent that last day at Tom's house on the hill with the woods behind us and the ocean in front.
I tucked the little gift in my pack of Parliaments and took off down the steep dirt driveway, hung a left and aimed my little Tercel at New Brunswick.
Wondering if and when I'd be coming back to this place. Wondering at my good fortune that I'd been allowed to live there for four years.
It would be a fourteen hour ride home, a trek I'd done many times, and loved each solitary mile. I had my thoughts and a raggedy bag of shows to keep me company.
I'd shove a cassette in, never looking to see what it was. Enjoying the surprise of not knowing what song was coming next, just like at a show. The anticipation of that unknown was part of the fun.
Between wondering about songs, I'd reflect on the past year's adventures. Graduating from college, epic road trip that showed me much of the US and much of its human zoo, settling back at home and working a normal job.
None of these things seemed to be things I'd chosen, just things that had fallen onto me.
Which led me to wonder what was next. In an innocently curious way, I'd wait patiently for the next happenstance to jump into view.
I wondered and wandered my way into the night, and found a hotel when I was too weary to be safe behind the wheel. Awake early and fortified with a coffee and some oat cakes, I remembered Tom's gift. I put a random show in the tape deck and grabbed my lighter.
Wondering through the countryside, content with not knowing where I'd be in a year, not knowing yet what I wanted to be should I ever grow up. Never worrying about my future, always confident that the wind would blow me where I needed to be.
I tossed the remains of the gift in the ashtray, planning on tossing it out the window well before I neared the border.
My mind meandering hither and thither, I was surprised to find myself sitting four cars back at the border, not having disposed of the remnant.
Knowing there was likely already a camera on me, throwing it out the window was not an option. As nonchalantly as I could, I grabbed an empty cassette case, placed the wee illegal thing inside, and chucked it under the passenger seat.
My turn at the window. I answered the questions; country of origin, how long I'd been in Canada, what had been my business, etc.
I was told to pull into the inspection area.
I promptly shat myself.
I wondered if this was it. My luck run out.
I was greeted by two guards, one of them armed with a large club. A twenty three year old girl, barefoot and wearing a bespeckled thrift shop dress clearly being a dangerous criminal.
First guard commenced yanking my belongings out of the back seat while second guard held his stick out letting me know I was not to attempt to go past it.
A year ago, just having graduated from college, I’d wondered where my life would take me. I hadn’t considered jail, but nothing would have surprised me.
First guard had taken out my few bags of clothing, dumped them on a table and began sifting through them.
Having resigned myself to the fact that I was indeed quite fucked, decided I may as well chat up the club wielding guard. I was eerily calm as we settled into some pleasant small talk. He had friends who had gone to my college. He’d been to my home state in the US. A nice guy really.
First guard finished with the back seat and popped the trunk. A large mirror caught his suspicions. It had a ceramic frame that was badly chipped. He asked me if the back was removable. I assured him it wasn’t.
While he sorted through the rest of the rubbish, I contemplated my fate here. If one is to be locked up abroad for a half a jay; Canada would be one’s first choice right? And how long would I get anyway, for half a jay?
My parents would be bullshit of course and offer no assistance, I would rot with whatever sentence was handed me.
I had no plans for the next year. I had no plans ever. I’d bumbled about my existence, making no conscious effort to effect change on my own life. Things happened and I accepted them.
First guard finished with the trunk and opened the passenger front door to the obvious sound of my heart trying to escape my chest.
My sack of cassette tapes emptied out on the table. My purse also emptied. Glove box inspected.
Pack of Parliaments on dashboard opened and peered into.
“And what are these for?” Pointing to a pack of rolling papers in the center console.
Being the intelligent college graduate that I was, I whipped out this ingenious nugget that had worked on my Dad when he’d found my pack of Camel’s in high school, it would surely work on a border guard right?
“They’re my friend’s”.
This was it. That feeling I’d always had, that nothing bad was ever going to happen to me, that the pieces of my life would always find a way of falling correctly into place? Gone.
He then bent down, looked under the passenger seat, reached under it, rose up, looked at me and said;
“You’re free to go.”
I was left to happily clean up the mess he’d made of my belongings. Allowed to finish my journey home. Allowed to go back to being sure that nothing bad would ever happen to me.
As soon as the border was out of view?
I grabbed my lighter and reached under that seat.