May 1, 2015 – On the Road to the Smoky Mountains

Day one of the trip is coming to a close, well day 2 if you count the drive to Windsor, sitting in my Dad’s living room, watching a documentary about the Saigon evacuation of 1975- which I do consider part of the trip I suppose now that I think about it. It’s not my real life.

In the morning, in our real lives, Ger took the morning off to finish packing and there was that late exam Louise Amambercon wrote that I picked up, marked on the way. It wasn’t until we were in Windsor that the vacation part of the day seeped in.

Today getting up a 5am, hitting the border, we watched the officers make fun of one of them named Matt who forgot he was supposed to do overtime last night as they processed Ger’s Irish fingerprints for the 90 day visa, much too long for the 18 actual days we are spending here, in this overgrown expanse of space and people and charm. The familiar becoming less familiar. Courtesies, customs, ways of being shifting slightly enough to be on the alert, hoping not to need to catch up.

There was that sticky woman at the first rest stop though, who made me ask her for a plastic bag. The thousands of drinks: juice, water, and even energy, plus the little bundle of bananas were sitting there on the counter between us a signal I thought, a need for a bag, a clear sign my arms would obviously struggle collecting these items on their own. After filling the bag she smiled at me, making me feel guilty for ever mistrusting her ability as a cashier.

And then the drive across the space where some people lived and other people didn’t I suppose. The space that uprooted and grew sharp edges along the road, prompting annoyance with Southern Ontario’s 401 flatness: Why couldn’t the mountains want to live near us? we said. Their height making us look out new points of our car windows which hadn’t been tested before.

A collection of Harleys decidedly took up the left lane for miles. They had that school of fish type existence, the sum being stronger than individual parts. Cars racing to pass them in the right lane along the mountains until a mac truck or a heavy caravan stopped them just as they were getting close enough to the head of the pack to pass. And then as a collective, with unseen signals between them, the decision was made to relinquish the left, the fish floating, withdrawing to the right hand lane.

The mountain view almost untrustingly beautiful from the deck of our little pretend future in the Smoky Mountains. This is the type of place we’ll get one day said out loud many times to each other, reminding us how difficult it is to be present even when the time feels so right, feels impossible not to be live in right now. How hard it is to appreciate the life around you, not getting stuck in the future to come.

The hot tub helps a little with that though. Here, I am floating and digesting the grilled meat, digesting the milky dip which we spread onto carrots. Where I’m digesting the chips we found at the dollar store claiming “ribs flavour.” The very chips now finding their spot just below my own clunky bones for the night.





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