Thursday, July 08, 2004


Spring 2001.

I’m still working at the Tribune at the time, but even then I know that time is coming to an end. The job isn’t much fun anymore, as it’s essentially the same work I’ve been doing for ten goddamn years and it isn’t getting any more interesting.

Add to that the fact that I’m working next to a wife from whom I’ve been separated since February, and you end up with a less than fantastic employment situation.

It’ll take until August before I finally make it out the door, and before that happens, I find myself nominated for an award in the British Columbia / Yukon Community Newspaper Association’s (or the BCYCNA, for those that can remember all those bloody letters) annual “Better Newspaper Awards”.

This is the second year that a nomination has come my way, and in spite of everything going on around me – a marriage that’s falling apart, a job that’s not satisfying in any way, shape or form – I’m actually pretty excited about it. I had gone the year before and had a lot of fun, even if I did only place third within my category.

So I’m looking forward to going again. And, come to think of it, why wouldn’t I be? It’ll get me away from the dreaded job for a day or two, away from the wife / ex-wife / whatever-the-hell-you-call-them-when-you’re-separated-but-not-divorced-quite-yet for a day or two, and it’ll give me the chance to just unwind someplace else. Doing something else.

The problem I ran into, though, was that I didn’t want to go alone. I hate going places, going to things, alone, I always have. It’s always seemed to me that these sorts of moments should be shared, need to be shared. Shared experiences have a life of their own, they exist between the people who shared the experience, which makes the experience itself that much harder to kill. Experiences that are experienced by a person alone, exist only within him, and might as well have never happened in the first place, if there’s going to be no one around to share them with.

Under ordinary circumstances I would, of course, have taken my wife. But, as of February of that year, those circumstances were no longer terribly normal.

So I asked a co-worker – let’s call her Chris, because that was her name – if she’d come down to Vancouver with me for the awards.

She said she would.

I should admit that there were at least a couple of reasons I asked this particular co-worker (who, I should point out, was, in fact, female, in spite of what her name might indicate). First and foremost, she was a friend, someone whose company I enjoyed, someone I wouldn’t mind having along on the journey.

But I wouldn’t be completely honest if I didn’t fess up to a second reason – she was hot. Super-hot. Supermodel-hot. And yes, I absolutely glowed knowing that my ex would be aware that I was taking the journey with this super-deadly-strike-you-blind-she’s-so-goddamn-hot co-worker.

Moving along.

The weekend of the awards came, and we travelled in my car. I drove, she played co-pilot as best she could – which, sadly, didn’t turn out very well to say the least. I’d never driven in Vancouver before. Any trips I had taken in the past had been with my wife, who had once lived in Vancouver, knew the streets intimately, and so was the obvious choice behind the wheel.

So I set Chris up with the map of Vancouver, and the knowledge of the location of the hotel we were to stay at, and she just kind of stared at the map, not figuring anything out, shoving it in my face whenever we hit a stoplight. Which never stayed red long enough for me to come up with a decent plant for how the hell we were going to get from point A to point Hotel.

We managed, somehow, after getting stuck down one-way streets that took us by surprise, and hitting dead-ends that weren’t properly marked on the map. Somehow we just kind of rolled up to the hotel without even realizing we were in the vicinity. It was as if God himself had gotten tired of listening to us bitch and moan about how we didn’t have a clue where we were going, had reached down, and pointed our car in the right direction.

Thanks God.

Found the underground parking, dug out our bags, wandered blindly around the concrete posts, footsteps echoing madly, until we found the elevator to the lobby.

Took the elevator. Checked in. Got our neato 21st century keycards. Took the elevator to the room (which, I think, was somewhere around the 11th floor, which always immediately makes me wonder what I’d do in case of a fire) and dropped our bags on the floor.

I wandered around a little, had a cigarette out the window, then decided I wanted to go up to the spinning bar at the top of the hotel. Chris declined the invite, so I headed up solo, to have a drink by myself and stare out the window as the city slowly spun around me.

It didn’t move quickly which, I guess, was probably by design. Once a room starts spinning at a certain speed, I guess it stops being a lounge and becomes some kind of midway attraction.

It moved so slowly that if you stared constantly out the window, you wouldn’t actually notice it moving at all. It was only if you tore your eyes away from it for a few minutes, to stare at your drink or at the live entertainment, that you would notice the movement when you finally looked back at the window again. Sometimes, if you’d get completely distracted by whatever it was you were looking at, the view outside the window was completely different than it had been the last time you glanced in that direction.

More than just a little bit like life, if you ask me.

I had my two drinks and took the elevator back down to the room. Slipped in with my keycard. Chris was already in bed, but still awake, so she was a perfect victim for my attempts at brooding and cynical insight that seemed to be the only kind I was capable of at that point in time.

She listened for a few moments, then offered a quick, curt reply.

The specifics of this conversation are outside of the realm of my memory, and don’t matter much in the grand scheme of things anyway. I was morose, thanks in part to a couple of drinks, as well as the fact that I was pretty sure my whole life was falling apart around me. I should have been enjoying the fact that I was in a new city for a few days, enjoying the fact that I could do anything I wanted, with anyone I wanted, for any reason I wanted. Instead I was moody. And wanted to just go to bed.

So I turned off the light and did just that. And that’s how I ended up sleeping with one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever known. Albeit in separate beds.

Part two tomorrow. Or the next day.

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