We only knew each other for three days in Guatemala before you were torn back home for your grandpa’s funeral. Yet a month of shy emails later, I was on a plane to visit you in Canada.
Over four weeks we went all across that big, gorgeous state of Alberta in your dilapidated van. Away to what felt real and important – meadows and lilac flowers spread out across the alpine roadside, forgotten barns and buttercups. Away from Calgary’s highway crammed with McDonald’s and Wendy’s, gas stations advertising slushies.
The mountains only deigned to let us past its glacial lakes and pines that glistened like liquid sunshine. Driving to your parents’ summer house with the windows down, we laughed and chatted while listening to the CD’s of your teens, Belle & Sebastian on repeat. Following the brown chug of freighters as waterfalls crashed and winter snow melted in the crisp summer light, I was in a dream.
I could only just reach your arm from the passenger seat, getting tangled in discarded Tim Horton’s coffee cups and cracker crumbs every time. Still I loved that van, loved its retro yellow units and names of past owners scratched into the dashboard, its inflatable mattress that deflated every night, its silhouette of a tree painted in black on its battered outside. Most of all, I loved that it was where we told our stories and gently got to know each other.
As that long, first day’s drive came to a close and we arrived at your parents’ summer house, the evening shadows were replaced by the soft, peach sky of gods. The place was a 70’s timeshare by the lake, everything untouched for decades – no internet, no TV, plenty of shag pile and frilly doilies, a mirrored four-poster that made me feel exposed. In that house I bathed and bathed, we cooked big meals and didn’t leave for days. It was perfect. Stuffy and lazy and dry mouthed and perfect.
The peace doesn’t last. Part two, same time tomorrow.