I was going to write about my new heart rate monitor tonight, and how this year my aim is to train smarter, but then this song came on the stereo and derailed everything.
Instead I started thinking about all the time I spent standing on the side of that highway, waiting for some car to stop and pick me up. Mostly thinking about the first time I lived in Canada, before I shacked up with Kim H. I was based in Kingston, which isn't really anywhere, but which is close enough to everywhere else to make you want to go there. Standing on the side of that road, heading through the rocks and scrub of the Great Canadian Shield, heading east to Montreal - or beyond that, even, all the way to Halifax - there was a sense of opening up, of possibilities that grew broader and broader with each passing kilometre. The country was vast and the people generous. I felt like I could travel into open space forever.
I told you that story so I could tell you another one. When I lived in Kingston I was friends with a bunch of people from all around the world. We'd been thrown together by our shared circumstances and were making a pretty good job of it. A few weeks in and I'd never had better friends. One night, however, a bunch of girls from the UK weren't present.
"Where's Maggie and KA and them?" I asked Texas Pete.
"They've gone to Toronto to pick up Gwyn."
(I'm not making these names up)
"What? How come? What happened?"
"I'm not sure. She called up, and they all went and hired a car then drove off."
"Yeah, right. Ok."
I often wonder about that drive. It was the middle of winter. As they set off they must've been nervous, driving that one straight line into a strange country, into a situation they weren't quite sure of. The quiet probably set in pretty early on. They would've looked at each other in the lights of passing trucks, watched as the condensation from their breath settled on the inside of the window, then turned to ice. But then I imagine some nervous chatter, some song they all know coming on the radio, some sense of purpose establishing itself with each truckstop and Tim Horton's. I wonder what they talked about, what stories they told each other in order to stay awake.
I don't remember any more of the story than this. I don't know what happened when they arrived, or even what happened when they returned. There's some stupid poem written about it in my journal, that's all. So I can tell you the date. It was the 30th of January, 2001.