Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A nation derided

In a world of Canadians, Americans, gas stations and pavement, I became a wanderer, a lost vagabond on the highways and biways of Eastern Canada. My quest--perhaps, as lame as it sounds--was one of self discovery.
You all have no idea how hard it was to de-panic myself enough to get out that door and into the car.
And all through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the overwhelming issue truly was fear.
What was I afraid of? It's really hard to say. Weeks earlier, on a hike in Nova Scotia near the famous Peggy's Cove, I absolutely refused to wedge myself into a cave that was really not nearly too small for me and my ample, yet not disgusting, girth. I stood at the opening, began to sweat, my heart racing.
"You seem to have lost some of your tiger," a friend noted. He was right. I realized that, for some reason, I'd turned into the snivelling baby that hid in basements and in front of computer monitors, waiting for life to happen, and doing my best to make sure it had absolutely no opportunities to do so.
So I made a plan.
It was very much a plan that went against all my grains--financial (bankruptcy looms large), emotional (where's that tiger?), and physical (what the hell is wrong with my digestive system?). I waited until the last moment, buying my flight from Toronto to Edmonton less than a week before I would have to BE in Toronto to catch it.
The flight plan itself was nervewracking. Why fly out of Toronto when Halifax has the nicest airport (officially!) in Canada?
Well, I've never been across the country. That was the original plan, but when I calculated the cost of gas, and the time it would take, and the unlikeliness of anyone coming with me, I amended the plan to an Eastern tour (19 hours of driving in three days) and a flight out of T-Dot. The ticket was non-refundable, and the flightplan non-amendable. I had to go, or lose $465.93. If I didn't, I'd be broke, and stuck at home. I forced myself to move.
My hands shook as I climbed into the 16-year old, recently- (and overwhelmingly failedly-) inspected Mazda 323. (*Note: if there were footnotes, I'd write one about all the things that didn't pass on that car*). I brought the bare minimum of junk in the event I'd be walking or hitchhiking. I changed the oil in the car, offending all my hippy neighbours by leaving a gargantuan oil spill.
And I departed. Everything irked me. The car couldn't go more than 80 km uphill. Everyone was actively attempting to embarrass me by passing at speeds well beyond that of most rockets. The temperature reached over 30 degrees in the un-airconditioned vehicle. I was exhausted from staying up until three in the morning and helping my girlfriend clean up her old apartment to move out.
But, as time went on, I relaxed a little. The car was burning almost no gas. The natural world beyond the pavement had reached its biological peak, and was screaming "fuck me" in plant language at the top of its lungs, which makes for some pretty flowers. The porcupines lined the side of the road, showing their intestines and mutilated carcases in a jubilant display of ... um... guts. And the fear of travelling began to melt like a stolen Fudgesicle between a fat kid's ass cheeks.
Crossing the border--part of my shortcut to Montreal through Maine -- changed all that.
Sporting what is almost a full Osama bin Laden beard and mentioning you've been unemployed for almost three months are two things not recommended to travellers entering the United States of Paranoia. Jokes about the fruits you happen to be carrying with you are also best left unsaid.
So I got the nth degree of interrogation. I feared the officers, all morbidly obese, would all cross the desk and "declare" I'd need to pass a cavity search if I wanted to get into their country. But after I told them the limit of my court experiences involved covering misdemeanors for My Daily Newspaper's Local Typo section, and that I could afford the gas to get out of their country, I was free to pass through. After my interrogation, though, I once again feared the very thought of touching American soil, be it with shoes or tires, or, inevitably, my own blood, when I was shot by roving gangs of miscreant fanatic zealot anti-terrorist squads. But as I drove through what turned out to be, minus the scads of churches and American flags, one of the most clean-cut and well-kept places I've ever been. New Brunswick was a ghetto, comparatively.
Crossing by highway through forests, then fields, I assumed every car behind me or parked on the side on the road was under salary with the Department of Homeland Security, trailing my derelict vehicle, waiting for a chance to shoot my terrorist ass. I gasped sighs of relief when cars appoaching from behind actually swerved to pass me, rather then knocking me off the road for a out-and-out knockdown, with free passage to Guantanamo Bay afterwards. Once, A car followed for almost half an hour on a highway with nowhere to turn. I was panicked. Finally, I slowed down, to see if he'd just pass. He did. When I saw his New Brunswick license plates, I realized I truly was insane. I calmed down.
Why go through the States? Originally, I told myself it was because gas was cheaper, and it was shorter. But I think it was more a chance to do something different. I had one real holiday chance this year--this one-- and I was going to do whatever it took, regardless of how scared I was, to make it as interesting as possible. Several God-given truths truly did become self-evident in the United States: all men (and women) are created fat. It's actually in the Declaration of Independence that each man, woman and child has the right to remain porky. The border guards I was interrogated by could move only because their chairs had wheels. Another true truth: the gas is cheaper. I think it works out to less than 75 cents per litre in deep Maine.
Anyway, this is too long. I'll break it up here. I haven't even gotten to Montreal yet, and I'm close to a million words here. And I sound like a snivelling crybaby.


Blogger Dave said...

Go Neal! And, as Frommer's says, always check your beard for terrorists before crossing any international border.

5:03 PM

Blogger enthrall said...

Damn, that boy can write.

6:34 AM


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