daily preciousness

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

oh, canada!

Picture a giant mint-green zigzag shape, like a giant letter S. The “S” represents land. The negative space around the letter is the cartographic, cornflower blue of water. Lake Ontario fills the upper right concave of the S. Lake Erie fills the bottom left concave.

At the upper middle part of the S sits the city of Hamilton. It’s a sprawling cityscape.

My best view of it is high atop the giant ledge of the escarpment. (An escarpment is the scar left by a glacial movement.) But it’s anything but glacial up here, above the sparkling quilt of lights of the city below. Parked cars, windows steamed over by the nocturnal explorations of teenage hormones, surround us.

Emily, Sarah and I leap out into the night; we’re the only people to leave the romantic safety/privacy of our vehicle. We jump out and the wind jumps us. The scenery is amazing, but after a few seconds, I can understand another reason why those kids stayed in their cars. The wind cuts right through my sweatshirt. Emily and Sarah are showing me the sights very helpfully, but I can’t quite stand the cold.

That wasn’t the only aerial view they treated me to, though. The second one was much more dramatic.

There, right below my feet, was a bus the size of a stick of chewing gum… and a compact car the size of a peanut. An elderly woman put her hand to her breast and gasped, staring wide-eyed at the view beneath her feet. She exclaims, half to herself, “Eeeh? Suggoi, na!” (Wow, that’s amazing!).

I said nothing – I just knelt down and rapped on the triple-thick glass. Staring straight down into the abyss below me was oddly comforting. It was a rush, too. Don’t get me wrong. Some atavistic, animal fear of heights kicks in and gives me a big rush. But I’m mostly calm. I don’t know why; I guess I lost my fear of falling a long time ago. A toddler jumped around, oblivious to his X-treme walk above the ridiculously miniature city below. It’s very George Jetson-like, to be this high up, in a pie-shaped cylinder above the city. It’s actually a gracefully proportioned building.

We were high atop the CN Tower in Toronto. I stared at the twinkling star-like lights of the cityscape below. It’s just days before my 30th year on the planet. You’d think being a mile up above the world would bring things into perspective. Well, you’d be thinking wrong. But the sight of the manmade constellations shining below my feet made me think about my footing… where I stand.

I stand for two lovely ladies kissing. (That would be Emmie and Sarah.) I stand for friendships that endure the bothersome complications of distance and circumstance.

In short, I stand for amazing people like my Wonder Twin Emily. I am so thankful to have an amazing friend like her in my life. She’s a true pal – the kind of friend I hold in both hands, as the African proverb goes….

Well, that friendship has survived a lot of international turmoil. At this point, I should explain a little running joke that Emmie and I have. Jim pointed it out that whenever – whenever I see Emily, something awful happens. Whether it’s a dead princess, an Olympic bombing or a deadly sniper attack, we still manage to have a great time. This time, we watched the headlines on CNN: another person had died at the hands of the Beltway Sniper, who’d already shot 10 people around the DC area. He claimed another victim outside of a Home Depot (that I think I visited with my pal George not that long ago!).

Sarah, Emily, Francoise and I dined with Sarah’s family for Canadian Thanksgiving. (Fran is my delightful friend from Brittany. She showed Christian and me around Paris the last time we were there.)

Sarah’s Mom was an amazing hostess. There were plenty of stewed veggies for me. There was also some amazing Scottish style stuffing, made of oatmeal. It was creamy and perfect in counterpoint to the fresh cranberry dressing.

Sarah’s brother-in-law, Morris, discussed local and national politics with us. He was on a tirade, railing against immigrants. His nostrils were flared, his gestures growing more and more expansive and his tone got fairly serious. I just sat and agreed, like a good little guest. After the meal, Sarah pointed out that he himself came from Italy as a child.

My favorite new acquaintance was Sarah’s mother. She’s a sweet older woman, with a down-to-earth demeanor quite typical of other RNs that I’ve known. She was animated and lively, just bursting with love for her daughter. I can see why Sarah’s such a charming person – she got it honestly.

The Niagara Falls were impressive. They provided daytime and nighttime entertainment for us. I got to see the falls at night, illuminated by otherworldly Easter-like pastel lights. (“They made them pink for Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness,” Sarah noted. That made me wonder, what do they do for Halloween? Do they project scary movies on them? If I stuck around, would I see Frankenstein’s monster emerge from the mists? Would I see Bella Lugosi’s frightful image hovering above the American Falls? Where does it end, once you start making the natural world into a Disneyfied, holiday-themed attraction?)

In the daylight, the falls were aquamarine and white, naturally. The roar was booming – the sound of the entire planet’s circulatory system -- the rush of Gaia’s lifeblood! It was impressive.

It wasn’t the purchase of my spiffy Elph digital camera that was really impressive about the trip. It wasn’t the great haul I made at the cheaper-than-cheap Bodyshop. It was the natural beauty of the surroundings coupled with the beauty of being surrounded in friendship. That’s the dearest memory of my trip up to see Emily and Sarah. Thanks, ladies, for a great vacation.




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