Chasing Rainbows

by | May 6, 2012

This post was imported from an old blog I used to have.

Creative Non-Fiction Class

For our final assignment we were given the opportunity to re-write something from earlier in the term. It was an opportunity to raise the grade on a particular piece and to tackle a subject from a different perspective. It was supposed to be a big change, not just another round of edits. My goal was to turn the story into a series of vignettes. I think that the pedagogical implications of this assignment are fantastic, and although I believe my re-write is an improvement, it’s still not top notch. Regardless, here it is: Crossing Canada Redux (April 2011)

Traveling eastbound on the Yellowhead the sun begins to set behind us, surrounding Caddy with beautiful light. A rainbow appears on the highway before us as though we’re heading directly for the pot of gold. I believe we are.

It’s dark and well after 10:00pm when the four of us pull into Lorraine and Esther’s little farm outside of Saskatoon. It’s my first visit here and it took us a while to find the place. Everyone is hugged, introduced and offered wine. I am impressed, but not surprised, by how well my friends and my Aunts get along, and the wine and conversation flow easily and much later than we expect. Dan, still hung-over from his farewell party the night before, is the first to head to bed. It’s not easy to find room for four guests in a farmhouse, and he and I end up sharing a twin bed while Wade gets a couch and Andrea a mattress on the floor.

We all move a bit slower than planned the following morning, and enjoy a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and fruit before venturing outside to get our first glimpse of the little farm. The Cadillac’s headlights had not revealed the quaint garden filled with wildflowers and my Aunt’s art, the restored greenhouse, or the shady arbor that had been built for Esther’s daughter’s wedding the previous summer. And there’s a horse!

Just enough time for a few group photos, and then we need to pack up the car and hit the road. I leave a thank you card for Aunt Lorraine and Esther on the bed. It’s the last handwritten note my Aunt will receive from me. When she discovers it, I hope she smiles and remembers the letters we used to exchange when I was a kid.

– – –

The thought of spending this perfect summer day cooped-up in the car is unbearable.  It doesn’t take much for Wade’s Aunt Linda to convince us to go out to Lake Winnipeg for a swim. It’s so hot that we stop for Freezies on the way. I can’t keep the smile from my face as I chew and slurp the cherry-flavored ice. I’m six years old again.

When we get to the beach I kick off my flip-flops and run to the water, arms stretched out to embrace the lake. I’m always the first one in. My screams at the cold shock don’t entice anyone to join me right away, so I swim around to warm up while I wait for everyone else to get hot enough to venture in.

– – –

Northern Ontario, with its long stretches of rocks and trees and nothing else, has gotten to us. Dan is stubborn, Wade gets annoyed, I become bitchy and Andrea tries to smooth things over. It’s group therapy in a Cadillac. We drive until we can’t stand it any longer, and Andrea suggests we get out of the car and take a walk near Lake Superior. It’s exactly what we need. We skip stones, take silly photos and remember how to make each other laugh.

– – –

We’re sticking it to the man in Ontario. Trying to save money, we hit a grocery store and plan to dine al fresco at one of the parks along the highway. The trouble is, there is a fee at every park we’ve passed – a charge to drive in, park, eat at a picnic table, and leave. We are spoiled, having grown up out West. Not to be dissuaded, we find a reasonably large shoulder, pull over, and hike down an unmarked path. It leads to a clearing by the lake. Score! It’s pretty, it’s private, it’s perfect.

Squabbling is at a minimum when our mouths are full. We’ve all been feeling the inevitable tension that occurs when four people are forced to be together for extended periods of time. We drive all day, hang out in the evening and share a hotel room at night. Friendships aside, we are starting to annoy the shit out of each other.

After lunch, Wade and Andrea announce that they’re heading back to Caddy for a nap before we hit the road again. Dan and I can barely contain our gratitude. We haven’t been alone for a few days and the strain must be obvious. Wade gives me a knowing look as he and Andrea pack up a few things to carry back. “We’ll leave the blanket for you guys.”

Once they’re out of earshot we can’t keep our hands off each other. My love for outdoor fucking is no secret, and foreplay is unnecessary. Clothes are off and Dan is inside me in record time. There’s no reason to suppress my moans out here. I share my ecstasy with all of nature. As my first climax fades I relax and enjoy the sensations: the sound of the lake lapping the shore, a gentle breeze caressing my naked skin. I feel the tension between us melting away. Squabbling is at a minimum when our mouths are full.

– – –

Caddy started giving us serious attitude in Ottawa. Nearly every attempt to start the car triggered the anti-theft warning message, which meant we had to wait three minutes before starting her up again. It’s beyond annoying, and we nearly got a parking ticket in Ottawa because we can’t move the car, but it hasn’t kept us from getting where we need to go. I call my dad to ask about the problem. He says we might as well wait until we arrive in Nova Scotia to get it looked at.

Bad advice, Dad. We decide to stop about 75 kilometers from Montreal, thinking gas might be cheaper in rural Quebec. It’s mid-afternoon and we have plenty of time to get to the city and find a hotel. Except this time Caddy decides that we no longer deserve a warning. She flat out refuses to start. Maybe she’s tired of driving. Maybe she’s sick of our bickering. Whatever it is, there’s no way she’s taking us any further. It starts to rain.

We attempt to stay dry and decide what to do next. We’ve tried everything we can think of. We finally nominate Andrea, the closest thing we’ve got to a francophone, to ask the gas station attendant to call us a tow truck and a taxi.

It’s nearly midnight when the tow truck drops Caddy off at the dealership. Our cabbie agreed to a flat rate into the city, but he goes well beyond the call of duty, entertaining us with amusing stories to take our minds off our troubles, and navigating to a number of hotels to inquire about vacancies. He manages to help us turn a terrible situation into an adventure.

The few days we spend in Montreal while Caddy gets fixed are among my favorite of the trip.

– – –

It’s been eleven years since I last visited Nova Scotia. My parents used to take me every few years, but they stopped paying for my vacations a long time ago, and I haven’t had a chance to return. Now that mom and dad have retired and built their summer home at Cameron Beach, I have an excuse. Not to mention the fact that Caddy belongs to them and they want her back.

I have no problem remembering the muddy red sand squishing between my toes. Walking forever on the sandbars when the tide is out, and jumping into the water from the big rocks when it’s in. I keep these memories close at hand as we venture eastward. I’m enjoying the journey, but I can’t wait to get there.

I take the wheel in New Brunswick, and as we cross the border into Nova Scotia I begin to recognize landmarks from my childhood and I’m invigorated by the distinctive smell of the maritime air. My heart starts to pound in Amherst when I realize we’re less than an hour away. I babble on about things suddenly familiar that I had forgotten: the brick building where we need to turn left, that lone tree in the field, Chandler’s corner store. My excitement is contagious and my friends are as giddy as I am in anticipation of our arrival. As we turn on to Toney Bay Road I can barely contain myself. My parents’ house is new, but I have no trouble recognizing it as we approach in the dark.

I see the welcoming glow in the windows and I know I’m home.