I recently started commuting in my car.
It’s very different.
I’ve spent 8 years in the city, and have successfully avoided rush hour until now. It’s so strange – I’m so used to leaving the house about an hour early, bag heavy (lunch, keys, coffee, iPod – you know, the essentials) and braving the elements in order to catch my bus. Turns out, though, that commuting via ETS would take me about 2.5 hours to my new-new job, but driving takes 15 minutes. So, morning little Bruce-car. I love my underground parking, and I love my little beast. And my bag is about a million times lighter, because I don’t need to carry it on my person for an hour. OH. And I get to wear high heels!!
Let’s do this commuting insanity.
I’m dealing with the radio too – listening for traffic reports, singing along as I deal with the craziness of city drivers. I have finally warmed my heart to the Garner Andrews Show – it took a few years, but I enjoy Garner’s insight, generosity, and overall dry humour. Today, he performed a wonderful magic trick – he took me back to being a teenager again.
Let me start by saying that I like the Tragically Hip. I’m not a huge fan – I like a lot of their songs, and I enjoy them. Hearing about Gord’s diagnosis broke my little Canadian heart, but I also didn’t buy tickets to the final shows. I’d rather let someone else who loved them go. If my brother wasn’t getting married on Saturday, I’d very likely be going to a bar to drink beer and watch the final concert. But. Priorities.
However. My most vivid memories of my first love are tied to The Tragically Hip. I fell in love for the first time with the Hip (and Zeppelin, and Meatloaf, and AC/DC, to name a few) providing the soundtrack. We met when I was 16, and I busted through the drama room door, minutes from being late, and smashed him with the door. Our first conversation, lemme tell you. Stuff of dreams.
“Why the fuck would you come through a door like that?” he growled as he picked himself up from the floor.
“Who the fuck stands behind a door like that?” I snapped, ever the aggressive Aries.
And then we glowered at one another for a week. Glorious. Can you feel the love or what? Sure enough, shortly after I took him out with the door, our teacher decided that we needed to be in a group together. Hooray.
He was a year older than I. His eyes were emerald green – changing, as I later found, with his green sweater or when he was angry or when he kissed me– and he drove a beat up Ford pick up. He threw his head back when he laughed, and his hands were beautiful – long fingers, soft, gentle palms. He hated having his picture taken, liked skipping class, smoked, and I was in trouble. Of course, now that I’m older and know what real trouble is – my pick-up driving, cigarette-smoking, beer-drinking truant of a high school sweetheart seems like a dream.
We started dating in October, and I remember vividly on our first date – New Orleans is Sinking came on our shitty hometown radio station. (PSA – the radio station still exists, and I imagine that they haven’t expanded their Hip offerings since I was 16)
“It’s the Tragically Hip!” I exclaimed.
“I think I could love you!” he exclaimed back.
Two or three months later, right before Christmas, we drove to “our” spot, and he told me, nervously, full of hope and terror, that he loved me. I, just as full of terror and hope, told him that I loved him, too. Wheat Kings was playing in the background.
Some days, my long memory feels like a curse. I remember a lot of bad things – the heartbreak, the sadness, the anger – it feels easy to remember how much it hurts. Especially at night, as I lay awake wondering if karma has finally caught up with me. For setting my life on fire to love a man who, I truly fear, never loved me. For never being able to verbalize my fear and vulnerability to the good men over the years, as they made their intentions clear. For the hearts I have broken, so I wouldn’t have to break my own. It can be easy to think, especially when the night falls, that karma has finally caught up to me. I try, in those moments, to remember all of the good little things. I even have a journal near my bed, full of the little things, to try and keep the darkness at bay. And sometimes, like this morning, the little things sneak up on me.
Today, Garner was talking about community celebrations for the final Hip concert – it’s being broadcasted on the CBC – and then he played Bobcaygeon. My very favourite song by the Tragically Hip. The very last Hip song I shared with my high school love.
As I was driving today, all I could remember was the morning we danced together. It was freezing cold, with fresh snow on the ground – maybe December or January? We were waiting for the coffee, or maybe just had the coffee. The floorboard squeaked as we danced in our bare feet. Laying my head on his shoulder, close to his neck, and feeling his cheek rest on the side of my head. One of his hands entwined with mine, kissing my fingertips before placing both of our hands over his heart as we swayed to the music, his other hand resting on my lower back. Hearing his hum as the song went on. The house was quiet, it was just us. No words. There was just love, just sweetness, just my love and I, just the Hip.
Even though I am still struggling with my darkness, clinging to the wall of my well, listening to the water slap against the stone, I strive for the good things. Little things, like memories about kisses on my fingers tips. Exploring new friendships, and collapsing as you laugh together. The way his eyes were sparkling emeralds the first time he said he loved me (it’s occurred to me, as I write this, that I apparently like to lose my heart to green eyed men). Hearing a song for the first time, or for the millionth time, and being taken back in time. Really quiet moments surrounded by the people you love most. Days that start with first round job interviews and end with signed job offers. The million little things that I forget when my anxiety catches up to me, and I fall into my well.
Today, I am thankful for Bobcaygeon, and for my high school sweetheart, wherever he may be.