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One thing that differentiates small towns from big cities is that mostly everyone has a home here. I’m not certain that even the “homeless” in Charlottetown are genuinely that. I mean, no doubt there’s a few down and out, but when you wander around real late, there’s not too many folks sprawled on a park bench, or huddled over a heating vent. It’s as safe as safe can be here in the Cradle of Confederation and even the bums have a bed.

It’s a change of scenery from downtown in the TDot. When you’ve got your daily rituals and a finely tuned rat route – home, bus, subway, bus, work, food, subway, bus, home – you start to get real familiar. A large percentage of people sharing space in the swarm are on a similar path, so especially if you’re like me and you never forget a face, you see the same mugs, day in, day out. Some are a welcome recognition, for instance, “Soy latte?” “Yes, that’s me” “$3.50” “Thanks so much” “Have a great day!” and the unspoken, “See you tomorrow!”  Other faces simply help form a familiar backdrop, somehow making the whole thing more manageable. A few faces, however, do tug on your heartstrings on a whole other kind of level and that’s the down and outs deserving of their “homeless” status. A depressing day of begging and lord knows what other horrors doesn’t necessarily end in a halfway house or even a shelter, it’s a bus shelter or a “quiet” corner in an alleyway.

Unfortunately, as jarring as some situations can be, too often the dregs of society become well woven into the enormous tapestry of Toronto and after a while it’s hard to pick them out. Nevertheless, like I said, there’s always those that get you.

A few years ago, I was living and working downtown. Unlike most in the herd, I didn’t have a cattle car commute, but instead had a leisurely 7 minute walk down Yonge Street, one block over from the gay village, two blocks down from the city center. I walked across College Street to my big government office, strolled past Starbucks, crossed over to Tim Horton’s and never fail, every morning I would see the same young dude parked by the garbage bins asking us all if we could spare a dime.

I don’t know what it was about him that got me, what made him stand out from all the others in his exact position, but I developed a certain level of concern and affection for him. I guess maybe it was that he looked like someone I could have been friends with. Some (handsome) young, smart (I could tell he had a brain) fellow that fell in with the wrong crowd, started using (I’m assuming Meth considering both his proximity to the gay village – a drug of choice in that community – and with the way I watched his teeth deteriorate over the months) and there he was. As much as you don’t want to see someone homeless, in fact you probably pray for them that they find a way off the streets, he was an oddly comforting vision. Just seeing him at his perch always gave me a sense of security.

I rarely give change to street people, but I will admit to tossing him a toonie on occasion. I also brought him biscuits from cafes, saved him mints from restaurants, and one Christmas Eve, rolled him a joint and taped it inside a Happy Holidays Hallmark card. I started toying with the idea of asking him to join me for lunch. I don’t know, I just wanted to show him that someone cared. He always remembered me, would compliment my clothing or jewellery on the days I needed it, and in spite of his position, he never wore a frown. He just had so much personality.

Around the time I was mulling over the lunch date, he made his way into my dreams. Before I take him to Tim’s, I guess I should first ask him his name, my sleeping self surmised, and so during R.E.M. I envisioned the scenario where I got up the balls to ask him his name. I distinctly remember our exchange. “Hi, I’m Cynthia. Nice to meet you.”

“Hi Cynthia, I’m something, something regular name.” Now I couldn’t quite recall what he said his name was, but I remembered the pattern – nickname, nickname, regular name. It was three words, that’s for sure.

“You’re a magician, aren’t you?” I asked him.

“Yes, I am,” he assured me. And that was that.

The very next day I met a friend for dinner at Pogue Mahone’s, the Irish Pub next to the workplace. As per usual, I pocketed my mints post-meal and lollygagged about with my friend while she fiddled with her bike lock about to start her ride home.

“Hey Stef, have you noticed that my homeless guy hasn’t been around much lately?”

“Yes, I have….he’s sleeping more these days too,” she answered.

“I know, I’m getting concerned for him. He seems to be getting worse.”

“You guys have the strangest connection. It’s like he was your brother in a past life or something….” she remarked.

“I KNOW! and get a load of this dream I had about him last night,” and I filled her in on the imaginary introduction.

“Weird,” she said.

So, I make my way home, and as I pull up to his perch on the corner, I pull out my treats, hand them over, stick out my hand, and say, “Hey, I’m Cynthia. Nice to meet you. What’s your name?”

“Hi Cynthia. I’m Little Frenchie Jason. Nice to meet you too.”

Unbelievable.

Not long after that, I moved from that neighbourhood and took on a new job. I never did get to ask him to lunch. When your daily commute changes in the city, lots of other things change with it. I barely ever walked past that place again, as I had no “real” need.

On my last visit to Toronto, I found myself near my old haunts, but fortunately no Little Frenchie Jason in sight. I like to think he pulled his shit together and is on to bigger and better. Or maybe he’s just got his disappearing act down, being a magician and all.

Remember how exciting it was to lose your teeth? Not only did you have the fun of wiggling the loose one around with your tongue for ages, but you knew that you were certainly bound to score with the tooth fairy when it finally gave up and fell out. I used to let those baby teeth hang in there forever, barely holding on, slowly flicking them back and forth and carefully breaking it free. You became intimately aware of just how loose it was and how much longer you had to go. That’s why I can’t for the life of me sort out how on earth I managed to miss the fact that behind one of my front teeth, there was a fang.

I was in kindergarten, 5 years old, and at the end of this special “I lost a tooth!” day, I was crawling around in the life-sized lego house with Derrick Wells and Meredith Cameron. Climbing up the stairs and through the tunnel, my tongue gave one last good tug and out it came. A lucrative little gem. When you’re 5, signs of aging are cool and most welcome, so I hurriedly ran to the day care workers to show off my treasured tooth.

They feigned excitement, but when I smiled wide to display my new gappy grin, they looked at me in disbelief. Where there was meant to be space in my face, there was a full-sized fang. Yeah. A pointy tooth, just as long and apparent as my other incisors. Didn’t I feel that in there behind the one I’d lost? Nope. After all that obsessive shimmy-ing about and I didn’t even have an inkling of its existence.

My parents arrived shortly afterwards to pick me up, and they too posed the same confused question. How did I not feel that huge, odd-looking pointy fang behind my baby tooth? I don’t know, but I didn’t.

Conceivably they thought it was a “phase”, and that maybe if they held out long enough it too would loosen and be waggled out, but needless to say my parents just left it there. My grade one photo has me smiling away, showing off the pearly whites plus fang, but I soon learned to keep ‘er closed, and my grade two shot had me putting on a tight lipped smirk to hide the gnarly “white fang” as I had ultimately come to be called.

I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but every now and then curious kids would ask, “What’s with your tooth?” Much like anything that makes you stand out from the crowd, I suppose you can develop a bit of a complex about it. Thank god somewhere along the road the decision was made to have it pulled. I made the trip to St. Jean Elementary School’s dental office to visit my dentist with ironically bad breath, he froze my face, and exorcised the thing, bewildered by the enormity of its root. I guess that would be an exciting day for a dentist. Not every kid has a fang.

Another front tooth grew in successfully, and years later, a wise woman I’ve had the pleasure of keeping company with told me that a third tooth means you’ve got unique intuitive powers. She’d read it in some book about Celtic wisdom. (Had I been born during the time of the witch trials I would definitely have been burned at the stake – red hair, freckles, a fang. I would have been a goner.) I don’t know if I totally buy into that, but it could definitely explain why I’m such a weirdo.

I had a dream a couple of months ago where I was standing at the edge of a lake. Quintessential Canadian scenery. Pine trees everywhere, the sun just glistening off the water. It absolutely took my breath away. I was pointing and marvelling and saying to all of my Aussie mates, “Look, look how beautiful it is!” It was then that I knew it was time to go home.

Fast forward to me riding home on VIARail last week. I was lightly sleeping during the early morning hours and the girl next to me tapped me on the knee and pointed out the window. Holy deja vu. The morning sun was swimming its light over a lake surrounded by Canadian conifers and my seatmate was adoring it saying, “Look! Look how beautiful that is! Sorry, but I couldn’t let you sleep through that…” Thank you, no worries, I appreciate it. It was just like I’d seen in my dream. Incroyable. Tres magnifique. Then a feeling came over me, engulfed me really, of absolute joy, love and affection for Canada and, at that precise moment, its unique and stunning landscapes.

I had developed a major respect for Aussies and how they cohabitated with all of their crazy, poisonous spiders and snakes. They don’t even seem to acknowledge how brave they are to be effortlessly sharing space with these creepy, crawly critters. “Hey, huge, hairy spider in my bedroom: you do your thing, and I’ll do mine, cool?” They just learn to coexist and it’s beautiful. It totally shapes their identity, makes them tough as nails in their own special way.

Canadians, on the other hand, we’ve got our own set of dangers and endurances to toughen us up. It dawned on me as I soaked up the shiny, morning lake light that we’ve got 4 true seasons here, and one of them is a real, cold ass freakin’ winter! Transplant an unsuspecting Islander to my living room in Byron Bay and ask them to live with lizards, cockroaches and monstrous arachnids and they might flip their lid. Alternatively, the morning I woke up and it was a recordbreaking 2 degrees in Melbourne (!!!HA!!!) and Aussies were blowing their loads, shivering like a bunch of wussies, I had a good hearty (proud) chuckle to myself; 2 degrees is a hard earned spring day, you wimps.

It just goes to show we’ve all got our hardships that quickly become second nature to endure, the sand that makes our pearls, if you will. I think it’s an invaluable exercise to supplant yourself into someone else’s shoes every now and then to garner some sympathy for what makes them tick.

That’s another thing that I try to keep fresh in my daily thoughts, “You know, we’re all just doing the best with what we’ve got.” It helps me be less judgemental, more understanding, and forgiving. Snakes, stingers, house-high hills of snow and frozen nose hairs for months on end, hey, we’ve all got our shit to contend with and who’s to say how we’d fair in someone else’s position.

Funny I should find myself sitting on this train bound for the Maritimes. I meant to listen to that Jack Johnson song before I left Toronto – “I need this, old train to break down…” I thought it was symbolic of something. It’s not that I want the train to break down (although, coincidentally I am sitting in the emergency exit and was thoroughly instructed on how to break the window and open all the latches and such – turns out I’m the one responsible for everyone’s well-being), but I suppose it’s the metaphorical train I’ve been riding. I want it to stop dead in its tracks so I can get off and suss an alternate form of transport. “Stop that train, I wanna get off…” that song also made its way into my consciousness this week.

Chuga, chuga, I think I can, I think I can, but does it have to roll like this? Nevertheless, here I am on this cloudy, Canadian day, lolling through the Quebec countryside en route to my homeland.

Yikes is an understatement. I’ve spent no more than 5 days in a row on PEI in the last 4 years, and I somehow took the notion to move back for the entire summer. All that effort put into running away, what kind of twist is this in my tale? I’ve always had each move motivated by the voice in my head that announces the next destination. I don’t always like what I hear, but I’m getting better at heeding its call regardless. When I landed in Sydney it was “get yourself to Byron,” after 3 months there it was, “move to Melbourne…” Tides turned and moons phased and I knew my holiday was drawing to a close. “You need to see the rock and the reef before you depart,” and so I did. Visions of sand dunes, lobster, clam digging, bonfires, old friends, old lovers, and new houses attracted my internal magnet and here I go yet again to Prince Edward Island. Listening to locutions.

This uprooting, the one taking me from my temporary stopover at my surrogate home of Toronto and back to PEI, was particularly difficult. When I arrived at the Pearson airport last week and saw the man in a turban serving people at customs and waited at the luggage carousel with the folks from the flight from Montego Bay, I thought, “Yes! Black people!! Diversity!!! Oh, Toronto, how I’ve missed you so….” The bing, bing, bong of the TTC chime, the sound of the streetcar, pedestrian Sundays in Kensington, cheap food, amazing old friends, I totally fell in love all over again.

For some strange reason, or not so strange, picking up and pissing off to the Southern Hemisphere nine months ago seemed less life-altering. It feels like there is more at stake with this shift. It’s now or never kind of thing. I was getting all comfy cozy back in my big city routine and I’m nervous about  breaking it.

A few weeks ago a fellow traveler at the hostel in Cairns asked me how long I’d been on the road. “Nine months,” I answered. Nine months! Just long enough to have a baby! You sure you’re not hiding anything? Have you got something to share with the friends and relatives back home? Ha ha. Definitely not, and what with the magic of facebook there’d be no squirreling that one away these days would there?

Then it struck me that maybe there was an incubation of sorts? Like a little Joey, I crawled into the pouch of Mama Kangaroo and said, “Hold me. Just let me chill out in here until I’m fully formed and ready to face the world.” So she did and eventually, I climbed out, gestation complete. The thing is though, that you can’t spend all that time in there and expect your perspective to stay the same. You’ve had time to percolate, you’ve got a fresh set of peepers. And that’s what makes it different. That’s why I have the insatiable desire to derail this train. I wanted a change, and ready or not I got one.

I’m returning home, reborn, to face all the things I took for granted. “OK, sorry guys, I know I sort of fell off the face there for a minute, but I’m back.” My family, my friends, the best job I’ve ever had – I’ve been given this once in a lifetime opportunity to pause and rewind and instead of a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude, I’m packing nothing but gratitude. Fresh faced, eager eyes, and a humbled heart. I don’t want this train ride to be like all those that have come before. I want it to be different.

I want to see what’s right in front of me. I feel like I was born with all of these gifts unwrapped, waiting for me to take advantage and play, but instead I was busy hauling ass up and down the street, searching the neighbours houses, pawing everybody else’s presents, looking anywhere and everywhere but home for all the tools to make it complete. Major bad case of the grass is greener. The good news is, now I know. I’ve seen the grass, and yeah, it’s green, but greenER is a stretch.

Who knows what in the name of mama kangaroos is going to go down on the gentle Island. I have a rough sketch to guide me, but it could be anything really…and who knows how long I’ll stay? The big smoke still holds a huge part of my psyche and I don’t know if I am ready to say goodbye to it just yet, or if I’ll have to. Maybe it’ll be a hello, nice to see you, thanks for everything, sorry I was such a jerk, end scene, see ya later, or as my friend jokes, maybe I’ll be barefoot and pregnant to some Island boy and in no time I’ll be settling down for good. What I do know for certain is it’ll definitely have to be different.

I’ve got a hankering to spill the beans on a few stories in the memory bank, but everything at the forefront is re heartache, unrequited love, new love, old love, confusing love, prospective love, blah, blah, blah, blah – BOOOORRRINNNG.  So, instead of rhyming off the ins and outs of what’s really on my mind, I’m going to dig deep and dust off a doozy down from the shelf. Rather than dissect matters of the heart, I shall postulate on the inner-workings of the soul. Not just any old soul, no, a tortured one – yes, a wandering one.  Now, many in my circle have heard this retold time and time again, but you know, personally, I can never get enough of a good thing. Let’s call this one “The Mystery of the Motueka Murderer.” (I’ve never actually titled it before. It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?)

Way back in 2004, I was on a solo tour of New Zealand. Another one of my “let’s get some perspective” ventures. I had been touring around the South Island, doing what is dubbed “WWOOF-ing” – willing workers on organic farms.  Basically, you pay a minimal membership fee, get access to a list of families throughout the country that are willing to provide travelers with food and accommodation in exchange for approximately 4 hours of work per day on their farms. Picking flowers, painting houses, you name it, it was on the list of potential chores.  You call up your chosen destination, “ring ring – my name is Cynthia, I’m from Canada, la la la, (I hope you don’t suck and aren’t weird and creepy) and I’m wondering if you are looking for any wwoofers at the moment?”  More often than not you’re signing up for a totally positive, unforgettable experience, but on the rare occasion, you end up with more than you bargained for in one way or another.

Motueka was one of those towns. Small, but ‘bigger’ than any of my expectations in every sense. I had been staying in a town called “Greymouth” and yeah, it was just as shitty as the name suggests. Grey. Bland. Boring. I was overworked by a bunch of weirdos, the people gave me the heebee jeebees, so I cut my intended stay short and picked up the phone to get a move on.  I can’t remember what drew me to Jackie and Steve’s farm in my little directory, but I can certainly remember our initial conversation. Jackie was a Doctor (very respectable) and Steve was an Agricultural Consultant on his way to Fiji for a month to complete some special project. They had a small hobby farm, chickens, horses, sheep, a lemon orchard, and some olive trees. They also had three children, Finn, Sophie, and James, ages 6, 4, and 2. Because Steve was off on business, Dr. Jackie could really use a hand around the house, and a pleasant Canadian girl with plans to stick around could be just the right match. We set the date, I booked my bus and set sail for the next phase.

When I first arrived at the farm, I didn’t like it. I just got bad vibes. At first I thought maybe it was because as soon as we arrived we were out in the field lifting sheep and such (oh you know those Kiwis and their sheep…wink, wink), and then I chalked it up to simply being a bit travel weary. Another farm. Ugh. I miss the comforts of home, I thought.  They showed me my digs, and when I saw I would have the luxury of my own, quaint, quiet cottage situated next to their house, I talked myself into it, thinking, “Oh, this will be great. You’ll have time on your own, to read, write, relax…it will be lovely and much needed. Suck it up, Cynthia.” So I did. And the plan was for me to stay with the whole family for a few days, get to know how things operated, take off for the weekend, and come back on Sunday to start playing Little Susie Homemaker.

After a weekend of debauchery in the city, I was content to come back to my little cottage, bake apple crisp, and make crafts with the kids. My initial bad vibes were successfully suppressed, and I was settling in. An all round lovely day with the family, and off to beddy bye to finally soak up some of that me time I was oh so looking forward to.  Travelling alone in a country full of fresh, delicious food, tends to lend itself towards (moderate) weight gain for me, so as I was getting changed for bed, I was checking out my new chubb in the reflection of the glass in the window. “Hmm, not too impressed with this, but what are you gonna do?” I thought as I undressed. As I stood there, examining my flaws framed by the open curtains of the window looking out to the pitch black, middle of nowhere, night, I started to get the sense that someone was watching me.  (Even though I’ve told this story a million times, I still get chills at this part, and yes, I’m considering getting up and closing the blinds on the window next to me – but I digress).  The self talk started, “Cynthia, no one is outside, it’s just your dumb, overactive imagination, stop it.”  Yeah, yeah. I *mostly* shook it off, but still sped up the process, got changed, and jumped into bed.

Having heard rave reviews, I was reading, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” that night, but I was pretty tired, so cut the reading session short. (another sidebar – still haven’t been able to pick up that book again – bad connotations).  I got up, clicked off the light, and jumped back into bed. [Here’s where I always debate whether to tell the full story, or the clean version – but I think I’ll go for the full on full story, because a) it’s relevant, and b) this is the way it happened] ANYway, I’m travelling alone, so you know, a girl gets lonely. If I’m going to have the luxury of being in my own private quarters, I might as well take advantage, right? So, yeah, here’s goes nothing and taking care of business, and suddenly, I hear a knock at the door.  “Rap, a tap, tap.” It’s the kind of flimsy door, with a single pane window that rattles in a very particular fashion – you know, the kind you hear, loud and clear, with no doubt about it being a door knocking, especially in the silence of nothingness in the middle of the night.

“Hello??” I call out. No answer. I get up to investigate, and instead of going directly to the door, I peer out the window next to it to see what’s up, and simply see the dog, Patch, sitting quietly and calmly on the mat, looking up at me. “Hmmm…very curious. I know I heard that, but maybe it was just Patch wagging his tale?? Or maybe it was a possum??  Kind of weird that he’s just sitting there like that, and I’m not really sure of the logistics of a possum or tale wagging and that exact door knocking noise, but what else was it when there is clearly no one out there?”  Back to bed, and by the way, abort mission on project cure the loneliness.

I’m laying there trying to get to sleep, but there’s one thing that’s really bothering me. Why are the lights still on in the house?  I mean, Jackie is a doctor, she’s got to get up really early for work, so why would she still be up? Are they leaving the lights on for my benefit? They didn’t do that last week when I was here? Nevermind. But I can’t shake it. What the hell is up in the house? FORGET it, Cynthia. Go to sleep.

“Overactive imagination” starts again, and my worry about the lights is escalating into all kinds of visions. Is there something wrong? Is there something wrong with Sophie? Should I go in and check? I can’t cut this feeling loose and now I’m having flashes of a woman murdered, and really, it’s all very silly and I should just go the F to sleep and stop being such a scaredy-cat.

Phewf. Finally, I forget it for long enough to drift off. I’m just about to go to sleep when suddenly, on the pillow above my head, I feel/hear a hand moving along across my head. “Shhhhhooooooooppppp” over the pillow, slowly from the left to the right. I’m definitely awake, and think, “Okayyyyy, sooooo, eitherrrrr there’s a rat in the bed with me, in which case it would be besiiiiide me right now, orrrrrr there is someone in here.” Not a split second after that thought, I feel this phenomenal weight on my chest, my whole body goes stiff, my arms tighten up at my side, my hands make a fist, and I hear the most disturbing sound of a maniacal man’s voice laughing, “muah, ha ha ha ha.” The sound came from my mouth, but believe me, I was sure I didn’t make it. “Christopher?” was my first instinct.  It was the one year anniversary of my cousin’s death, and I wondered if maybe he was trying to connect with me. But no. I quickly dismissed that justification and realized that if it was him, it wouldn’t have felt so bloody terrible. It felt like there was a man on top of me, holding me down, saying, “Ha, ha, ha, you little bitch…” So unbelievably sickening. I literally had to pull myself up out of bed, slipped on my sandals, grabbed my sweater and ran towards the house.

The door was locked when I got there which was really a shame, considering the proximity of the door to the dark path leading into the woods, but fortunately, Dr. Jackie was on it, and she promptly unlocked it and let me in. “Hey there. C,mon in. I was just up reading…the first night when Steve goes away is always a little weird…” (YEAH, NO SHIT!!) I come inside, make my way over to the kitchen and fumble around to make myself a soothing cup of tea. She starts rambling on about this and that, and as I go through the motions of boiling the water and act like I’m listening, I stop her and say, “You know, I’m sorry, but I’m a little shaken up…I just had the strangest experience.”

“Oh?” She says inquisitively.

“Yeah,” and at the risk of coming off like a total nutjob, I rhyme off the specifics of my encounter.

“I’m so sorry. We’ve never had that happen to anyone in the cottage before,” she apologizes. WTF?????  What is THAT supposed to mean, ‘we’ve never had that happen in the cottage??’ Christ almighty! Is she serious? “Yeah, not that I would ever wish this on anyone else, but in a way, I’m glad this happened to you, because I thought I was crazy. I’ve had the exact same thing happen  to me a number of times minus the sound effects. It only ever happens when Steve’s away…you’re the first person to confirm this for me.” One of the chosen ones! Wow! I’m such a lucky duck.

Awesome. So it’s 1:30 in the morning, in the middle of nowhere, and this woman is about to absolutely confirm my worst fears. I would have been utterly content to brush this one off (how that would have been possible, I’m not sure) but no, she proceeds with corroboration. “We’ve had this place exorcised twice. We thought it was gone, but now that we’re doing renovations, we feel that things are being stirred up again. This used to be a ‘House of Ill Repute’ (a brothel) and there was a woman murdered here. We feel there was the spirits of a father and son hanging around , the father has moved on, but I think the son is still here. Because it only happens when I’m alone, I feel as though it’s a man who truly hates women…”  No kidding.

That would explain the vision of the murdered woman, the nasty apprehension I had while changing in the window, the knocking on the door during ‘me time’, and finally, the feeling that there was a filthy man on top of me, invading my space and  laughing maniacally.  “I can definitely agree with you that whoever it is that’s hanging around, he’s coming from the dark side, that much is guaranteed.”

“I don’t like going to the loo at night,” and she points to the bathroom, located immediately next to where I was standing. “Finn has mentioned that he senses something around here too.” The six year old boy was a genius, literally, but had major behavioural problems, in fact, so did the young girl. I recall her saying to me once, “I don’t know what comes over me! I try to be good, but sometimes I just can’t help it!!” YEAH, KID! CUZ YOUR HOUSE IS HAUNTED! NO WONDER!!  I felt like saying.  Jackie and I took our tea to the couch and she conveyed her struggles with the energy of the house and the property in general. They had done all kinds of work to change things, to clear it, but to no avail.

“That is so awful,” I announce, “To be stuck between two worlds like that. It’s bad enough to live like that in one life, but to carry that over into another. Just move on, just let go. It must be so awful” and with that reflection, I felt that immense weight that I didn’t even realize was still on me, lift. I didn’t mention a word aloud, but Jackie must have sensed it too because she then exclaimed, “Did you feel that?? It feels lighter in here doesn’t it?  I’ve never been able to take pity on it before…maybe that’s what it needed.”

“Anyway, I hope you’ll still consider staying with us…I should get to bed,” and off she went, leaving me to my own devices, at 3 a.m. in a house that I now know for a fact is besieged by the boogeyman. THANKS, LADY!  I sat in the room, next to the dreaded loo, and nearly shat myself with fear. I picked up the phone and called my boyfriend back in Canada, disregarding the inconvenient time difference and talked to him until the sun came up. In the early morning I went to sleep for a few hours in her bedroom while she made breakfast for the kids. I had an episode of sleep paralysis, but other than that, nothing much to speak of. 

That day I had a decision to make. Should I stay or should I go? Against all my better judgment, I opted to stay. I was pretty broke at the time, and because I had agreed pre-poltergeist to take on some extra duties for some extra under the table dosh, I found it hard to say no. To this day, I’m still not sure how or why I made that call, but I did, and not only did I push myself to stick it out, but I forced myself to stay at least one night alone again in the cottage.  I know. Insane. But I wanted to prove to myself I could. “This is my space, and you’re not welcome!” I announced. I wanted to conquer it, and I did, but that was enough. The rest of my 2 week stay was on a mattress on the floor of her bedroom, with ear plugs to boot.

Even though I was doing a lot of writing at the time, I couldn’t even document any of this while I was still there. I had a hunch that someone was potentially lurking over my shoulder. What a crazy time that was. I left the property for a night or two for some more sin in the city, and driving back onto the land, the heavy gloom hanging over the place was palpable. I have a clear memory of turning off the engine of the car, sitting there looking out onto the fields and thinking, “this place is fucked,” and nevertheless, collecting my overnight bag and making my way back to the house. I also remember one day I was working out in the field, pulling up a fence, and when I got to a certain nondescript place in the paddock, I felt sick to my stomach, got so creeped out, called Patch the dog, and scurried off to the house. I just couldn’t be there for whatever reason.  When she questioned me later as to why I hadn’t finished with the fence, I told her that basically it was because I got scared, and really had to bite my tongue and not shout at her with my inner voice, “THIS PLACE IS INSANE.”

Friday the 13th rolled around, and when 2 American girls I had met contacted me and asked me to join them hitchhiking down the coast, I packed my bag and announced I was getting the hell out of dodge. Jackie protested, “But you promised you’d stay until February 14th! I need you!” I replied with something to the effect of, “I think I’ve done pretty well…and sorry, I’m not staying here on Friday, the 13th. Call me crazy, call me superstitious, but I’m done.”

Two years later, I got an email from her. “Hey, how are you doing back in Canada? We think of you often…lots of wwoofers passing through…we still get visits from our nocturnal wanderer…etc etc etc.” 

“I think of you often as well,” I replied with not a word of lie. That was not the kind of place you forget. It really sticks with you. One for the books.

The End.

The End.

“That’s a really nice necklace…what is it?”
“It’s a Mexican calendar.”
“Ah, yes, the Mayan calendar.  Do you believe in 2012?”
“Yep.”
“What do you think will happen?”
“A shift.”
“Hmm…I like that answer.”

Saturday night, a new friend complimented the pendant I’m currently sporting.  I’ve had it for ages, Mom got it for me in Mexico about 10 years ago, but I’ve recently fished it out of my jumbles of gems to give it some play…mostly because it matches my new earrings, but I wonder if it’s possible it’s because everything it represents matches a major subplot in my subconscious.

I just finished an astounding book authored by Cormac McCarthy called “The Road.” It’s the kind of profound read that you’re almost nervous to partake in publicly because you completely lose yourself in the tale and can’t help but verbalize your shock and amazement. I was reading it on the tram on the way to work, and I recall having to put the book down, suck in a slow, deep breath, exhale, “whooooooooo…” while drumming my fingers on my knee, and wait until I could muster some courage to continue. So f-in intense, man.  It’s the same dude who wrote, “No Country for Old Men.”  Essentially, it’s about “The Man” and “The Boy” fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. It never actually articulates what precisely happens, but alludes to a fireball hitting the earth, mostly everything burning to the ground, a grey cloud of ash veiling the sky, and tells the story of some of the few (fortunate??) survivors and how they push on.  There’s no food, no “society” or “civilization”, just a handful of humans, half turned cannibals, the other half running scared scavengers and leaves you asking questions like ,”WTF would I do (when and) if that happened?” and, “What’s there to hope for when there’s nothing left to hope for?”  Seriously, this book is innnnntense. It really gets the wheels turning. A must read.

With that explanation aside, rewind to the Mayan calendar on my necklace. Most people will have heard about 2012 by now, but for the lame arses with their head in the sand (kidding!), I’ll relay the Reader’s Digest version. December 21, 2012 is when the Mayan Calendar ends, and consequently, to quote R.E.M., it’s the end of the world as we know it. Before the eyes start rolling, and I’m pegged as some sort of doorknocking, ding dong who’s trying to convert you to Jehovah, google it. You can do your own research to see it ain’t no small faction of loonies who are proponents of this theory. I’m not going to try to convince anyone, but I do think an exploration of the ideas and implications surrounding the possibility of this coming to fruition is a provocative and worthwhile thought experiment.

It’s silly semantics, really, to peg this kind of talk as “conspiracy theory.” That phrase holds such negative connotations, and what does it even mean anyway? Is a conspiracy theorist someone who entertains/believes in ideas that aren’t prepackaged by the media? If so, then shoot, I guess I’ll have to accept that dissentient classification; let’s all just roleplay as Screwball Sam for a minute and pretend it’s not a bad thing to entertain such notions.  Let’s also not get bogged down in the technicalities of the precise 12/21/12 prediction, and instead just think about where this world is headed.  Maybe it won’t be a page out of the Book of Revelations, and maybe it won’t be a single catastrophic event on a distinct date, but it’s honestly no so far fetched to think that with the way things are accelerating exponentially, planet earth as we know her and love  her is in for a facelift.

I fancy that’s what I was getting at with my response to the question, “What do you think is going to happen?” Maybe there will be floods and fires and humans will resort/revert to cannibalism and there will be mass destruction and murder and mayhem and lord only knows what else, or maybe we’re all just in for a major shift in perception? What if entering the fifth dimension means finally recalibrating our collective consciousness?

Having just spent time in a country that was simultaneously suffering fires, floods, droughts etc., it’s not that formidable to fathom the ‘facelift’ aspect of things. And tuning into the murmurs of our thinkers, prophets and spiritual leaders, I’m admittedly hopeful that we are indeed in for a mental metamorphosis.

June 2009
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