Flying past the front doors of the factory, new job, all decked out for the occasion, finally in management.
I was the poor boy made good. Engineering school. Wearing the ring to prove it.
No more alienation from the means of production baby! What was the old refrain...the working class can kiss my ass, I 've got the foreman's job at last!
Well...not really. I was an office man. Didn't have to deal with the plebs.
After six months on the job I put the down payment on the house. Nice two bedroom in an up-and-coming neighbourhood. Beers with the boys on Saturday nights down at the Canadianna. Foosball and checking out the short skirts. Music always a little too loud and a little too fucking old...
I had the lifestyle. The drugs, the booze, the escorts when the dates were hard to get. All placed on the plastic.
Spiralling forward, twisting, reckless...god was it ever great! Empty, maybe...but at least I wasn't one of these poor married fuckers who lived vicariously through my water cooler stories. Fuck them is what I thought.
It was a Tuesday that you started.
Who is the new girl? Latin. Gorgeous. Features...shit did you have features.
To call you statuesque would have been to give too much credit to Michelangelo.
I, needless to say, had to have you.
As we sat over very rare steaks at The Readcoat Inn, I realized, also, that I loved you. You were smart. Passionate. Committed. Opposites attracting and so on...
What an unusual feeling. Heightened pulse, confused emotion, all of the bullshit. Thought it could never happen to me.
Taking me back to good-old mom and dad. Dad was what you might expect. Reticent at first. Chilean exile with strong, though not totally modern views. It was his only girl, after all. But a few glasses of the twelve-year old Scotch I had brought later and he was prepared to marry me if his daughter did not.
Planning the wedding was the stuff of everyday. Each particular detail. Nothing left to chance. Had it rained I suppose I would have become pathetically unhinged.
Magical in pure white, dancing, swirling around the ballroom, hundreds of guests. I mean who the fuck were they all? Uncle Dickhead from Twofuck Alberta. Why did we invite this guy?
Why not I guess?
I even bought a convertible. Two door, jet black. The engine asserted itself. Made sure she was heard. We drove away through cascading waves of rice, July oppressive yet delightful, shades of amber as the sun sets, face at an angle gazing.
Was it only a year? We saw every new production, every critically acclaimed movie. Trips through Europe and North Africa. Why do too much, too soon you said? Life is long.
You changed me. Suddenly, I cared. Went to church. Worked the soup kitchens. Found some small redemption in embracing the sense of purpose I felt in you. An ephemeral connection with the beyond, the spiritual, the eternal.
When I came home that cold Sunday, you were already in terrible pain. It must be just a headache, after all. Take more of the Advil.
Looking at me with closed eyes, the hurt too intense for light, begging me to put you in the car.
St. Joseph's was only a ten minute drive, but by the time we were half way there I knew that you were not going to make it.
Later they found it had been an aneurysm. No way to detect or predict. Random.
Purposeless after all.
For many weeks I could not go back to the house. I stayed with friends. In hotels.
I was no longer able to work, and while they tolerated this for awhile, it was in April that they let me go.
Just as well. It meant nothing to me at all now.
Opening the door, trepidation, plane to Thunder Bay leaving the next day.
Pictures, letters, old bills...too much to process. But I had to.
Making my way through the past like this, however recent, however short, I was stunned to see all these moments.
The strangest thing of all, though, was the small envelope under the stacks of private papers.
Katie & Karl...
All the best to you in your future endeavours...
Inside the gift certificate. Somehow overlooked and forgotten. Seventy-five dollars towards promise unfulfilled. Improvements never to be made. Rendered irrelevant by circumstance.
A distant echo of past earthquakes.