I recently called my younger brother "R" and we discussed a number of things that were on my mind. He suggested I "go back in time" so to speak, and walk through some of the places and memories from before my relationship with the "ex". It seemed like a simple enough idea, although having been with said "ex" from the age of 15 there were not a lot of places or people untouched by his presence or interaction. So on a marginally sunny day I booked a dogsitter for the hellraisers and filled my gastank. It is the first day of September, and the PNE is open!
Ah, the PNE... a place that holds so many memories that some of them were only about me and those I love. I recalled watching my brothers skate at the forum, in awe while my oldest brother drove the Zamboni. Falling on the ice or running into the boards HARD! Hot chocolate at the concession on a cold day. The Marketplace, where just about any type of TV or Online hyped up merchandise can be had for much more than a song... where Aunt Margie's Fudge sits close to the (newly discovered) roasted almond booth - and the espresso glazed warm toasted almonds were worth the price... I almost felt saintly buying toasted nuts instead of "those little donuts"... Food, food, food! Hunky Bills, Curry in a Hurry, gelato, pizza, pasta, fried chicken, burgers, hot dogs, Jamaican and Japanese and Whale Tails.... deep fried Mars Bars... and an entire row of rib kitchens having a "cook off" to see who would come up in front on the "best ribs at the fair"... Roving performers that knocked my socks off - a group of 8 very young drummers playing marching band rhythms interwoven with pop culture lines... and dancing while they pounded until the drum sticks shattered in their hands... and Dal Richards' Orchestra playing sweet mellow tunes my parents danced to in a misty Vancouver afternoon.
I got a tarot card reader to throw the cards for me... nothing new there, just the usual; the Tower (another cluster fuck), 8 of wands (carrying a load of emotional baggage with the end just out of sight), Judgement (exactly) 7 of swords (mourning), with the Empress for new life, the Emperor for strong leadership... and I've turned those cards over and over myself, but it was good to have another opinion... after all, it's about the interpretation more than anything. Had Frontier Photo shoot my portrait - I think this is the 5th one for me! Photographed a few places that once meant something; the spot the "ex" actually proposed, the bandstand, a huge pile of shipping containers stacked alternately with cars... and it reminded me of my brother and his lego with the Hot Wheels,
I watched the Superdogs in the Coliseum, bypassed the prize home, crawled through all the barns to smell the clean hay and watch tiny chickens hatch. I walked into the Hastings Park Racetrack for the first time on my own and realized that I had been there almost 50 years before... standing at the side, watching the horses being walked from their stalls to show to the crowd before their warm up... only now I was tall enough to see over the fence where before I barely came halfway up! I felt insecure and alone the entire time. I started going through the art displays and discovered an homage to the dockworkers of the Port of Vancouver... and my heart came up into my throat and I felt an overwhelming wave of grief come over me. There, hanging on a hook near the back was a coverall just like the ones Dad used to wear, and there was a tattered little chair set beside an empty cable spool, used as a table... I could almost smell the grimy oil, the welding solder, the burnt cotton smell from the pinholes that pocked his clothes... and I missed him with all my heart in that instant. It made me realize that I have been travelling with the ghosts of my past all around me. My Dad, my Mom, my past relationship, friends and loved ones who have moved on or passed on... but my memories are just that.
Having felt for a long time that my Mom is with me always is a comfort, but there are times when I wish I could turn to look over my shoulder and see her there. It's an urge that is unsatisfied, an ache that has no comfort, and I wonder how other people deal with it. She would have loved the music, the joy, the enthusiasm and the life in those young performers. And the Dad I remembered was the one who held my little hand, dapper in his nice shirt with his hair all brushed neatly as he stood with me to watch the thoroughbreds walk past. The Dad who always won a prize at the sledgehammer game... because he was Superman to me.
Just before I left, just for old time's sake, I bought tickets to "win a house, win a car..." and filled out my name and phone number. I may as well have dumped them into the trash, as I have never, and will never, win anything from the Fair. But I have some new memories to link up to the old ones I had hiding in some old drawers in the far cupboard with the pig races and the pigeons. Maybe that is the "reset" my internal clock needed. Something to bridge me from the past to the future without having to carry all the heavy, painful stuff all the time to get there. And I'm sad, and a little melancholy. But I'm also feeling a little hope. And I believe that living in a world without hope is the saddest thing of all.
So it's time for me and my ghosts to go our own ways. They have a lot of travelling to do to catch up to where they should be, and I have a lot of uncovered ground to bring me to where I need to be. I will just have to do it without their company and make some new models of the best way to make my life the way a life can be lived. I need a cunning plan... and in the meantime I'll have a caffe mocha vodka valium latte to go, please...