Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Five provinces and eleven thousand miles later.

I can't change you
So I'll change myself
And I can't save you
So I'll save myself

So what if you remember me
You knocked me out with one in lies

I'm not the only fucking one
I'm not the only one
He learned how to ride it out in the field behind the big tent. In Shediac, where what wasn't ocean was dust, it seemed. He had bought the bike for a hundred and seventy-five dollars from some kid on his way to college. The kid threw in a couple of beat-up helmets and wished Lochlan luck after showing him the basics.

Hop on, Bridge.

Okay. Are you sure you can ride this thing?

Anyone can do it. Hell, you could.

I didn't want to though. It was a big old Kawasaki 900 and I was afraid of the noise. I would get on the back and Lochlan would holler at me to hold on and he would rip up and down the back roads, threading us around the potholes and sometimes off the road entirely, through the trees. I wrapped my arms around his waist and pressed myself against his back. Every time he went around a corner he would yell something at me but I never really heard him properly. I wasn't sure if it was lean with me or lean away from me. I still don't know to this day but Lochlan's a lot bigger and more muscled than he was as a scrawny underfed teenager so it's no longer an issue.

Late that night in the camper he said we had to grow up now. That we couldn't sleep under the stars in the back of the truck because the truck was going back. His father needed it to haul wood and so he was going to get saddlebags for the bike. We had to pare down to just some clothes and our toothbrushes. My hairbrush, he could borrow it. I would have to give away or try to sell my books, the circus snowglobe that he gave me, the portable tape player and tapes that we played to fall asleep at night. I could keep the walkman though, even though we didn't have any money for batteries. You never know when you're going to have a really good week. Any money we got would go toward getting the bike highway ready. Matt would continue to rent his camper to us in each town.

And so Lochlan got on that bike and he rode it fine with me on the back and he's been riding ever since. He's never taken a course, never had a lesson and somehow along the way managed to get grandfathered in on one of his out of province moves and is fully licensed and insured. He's ridden drunk, sober, in the snow and rain, in the blazing sun, all night, all day and through arctic air masses that wouldn't quit. He has driven coast to coast seven times and I believe at night instead of dreaming, he rides.

He's had every kind of bike there is. Currently out back there's a Harley, a Victory, a Ducati and a Honda that all belong to him. I dropped a Harley on my first lesson from the boys and never got a second but any time I want he is happy to take me out for a long drive. Sometimes I am taken when I don't want to go because for some reason he seems to need me attached to his back to enjoy it. Die hard, old habit, die hard.

He pulled my hands up to his face, kissing my fingertips warm as we huddled together under the blanket for warmth. The camper was unheated and it was the last day of summer.

I'll buy you a new snowglobe. I'm so sorry, Fidget.

It's ok. I love being free with no earthly possessions. We are nomads. At least for now.

Wayfarers! That's it, baby. I'm still going to replace it.

You'll probably never find another one like that.

I'll see when the time comes.

Many years passed (exactly twenty-five to this day) and this morning through the rain and the bad blood in this house and all of the things that happened last week and last night, Lochlan came back after leaving the house for three hours and not a minute less. He came in and shrugged out of his backpack and then his wet gear and then finally his sweater and then he reached into the pack and pulled out a cardboard box. He put it in my hands and then sat down to watch as I opened it.

He found one. Another snowglobe with a tiny big top inside. Identical save for the fact that the one I left behind was chipped and this one is beautifully intact. Ironic, since I am not.

Unbelievable. It looks almost the same!

And then I turned it over to see if it played music (just like my old one!) and there was the chip on the bottom in the same place as my old one, in the back so it never mattered anyway initials are written on it in pencil: B. L.

Just like on my old one...

How, wait, why did you keep this all these years?

I figured by the time you were this old you might have your shit together. I was wrong but you can have it anyway.

You knew.

I knew? Knew what? That you would still want it?

No, that you would still be around. That you would know where I was twenty-five years in the future. That you would do this for me.

Lochlan didn't say anything more. I turned the snowglobe over and wound it. And then I shook it hard and set it down gently on the table, watching the blizzard spool up over the circus. Driving all of the townspeople away and the performers back to their campers or tents. I watched the two teenagers run to the bike and jump on and drive up the highway out of the storm, the girl clinging to the boy driving, trusting that he wouldn't spill them to the pavement or put them in any kind of danger. That he would look out for her the way he managed to keep the snowglobe intact all these years. Carefully and with intent. He would find a place for them to ride out the storm. Someplace safe, warm and dry. Because you can't hold a circus in the snow, and you can't keep history under glass.

You knew too, princess. You've fought pretty hard to keep me in your life.

For the life of me I can't figure out why, Lochlan.

Me neither, Bridget.

We sat there and rode out the end of the storm, sitting in a tiny little truck stop diner seventeen miles from nowhere, eating chicken soup paid for with a twenty-dollar bill Lochlan found in the parking lot, warming our hands in the steam rising from the bowls.


Waiting for the circus to begin again.