Monday, June 15, 2015

Some of the Old Days...

It's June, halfway through, already. The birds are singing and the Sun is in the sky all the time these days.
It has been quite a time, with you dying.
I mean, it's been devastating. Even, surprisingly so.

When I first got the call, telling me of your passing, I did not know how to feel. People say this all the time and you think they are stunted but then you find yourself there and you are shocked that you simply cannot react. I guess you are reacting by not reacting.

I immediately thought about how you would have reacted if you had received the same phone call. Who knows? You were always more demonstrative than I was. Except anger. That always comes easy for me. In fact, I almost reacted in anger that day, when Ian called me to give me the news. I thought you would go on living forever, you seemed to always have more than 9 lives. I think you used up your 9th life when you were like, 12. Probably before I even met you.

Shayne and me, circa 1994, at 1667 Brooke Crescent.

We probably used up a few lives together, whether it was the time we rolled my truck end over end, climbed 3 stories up the exterior walls of the Chateau lake Louise, nose dived the Grumman Goose into that wave trying to leave Scott Cove, the trip that turned into a terrifying storm aboard the MV Texada, going from Princess Royal Island to Port Hardy. The 110 foot old girl was just pounding her way across the Sound that night. And the two Russians, Oleg and Slava, who, we were convinced, were Mobsters of some sort, were just standing in the galley, watching all the pots and pans spread on the floor, bash into each other on every dive the boat took. It was like a scene out of a Kubrick film.

There are many, many more, my friend, the Dodge Colt 100 km/h e-brakes, all the motorcycle close calls, getting lost in the fog in the 206 from Call Inlet and having to find a place to touch down, all those insane trips down the mountain in the blue crummy, with the amphetamine fuelled Fleet at the wheel, ending with me kicking in the window with my caulk boots.

The following summer we had our own contract, where we took over the camp and wreaked havoc with our playing and singing and drinking and carrying on. The loggers thought we were hippies and we thought they were assholes and that's the way it was.

Dave, from Echo Bay, Shayne, Dorian, at Gilford Island.

Everything was a "Hal-sel", which is what you named after Hal, the company forester that was on the job. We rolled that huge boulder down the mountain, it was the size of a van, it just crushed a massive swath all the way down the hill. We could hear it busting trees like 1000 feet down. We thought that Hal must have heard it or discovered it because he didn't really talk to us after that. That and our nightly partying and general misbehaving drove a wedge. The John Henry birthday volleyball game may have been one of the last straws, too.

You will remember that when that contract was done, on the way home the crummy broke down in Woss and Iain came and picked us up in the big Ford orange van. We then went to the J-Bar and closed it down somewhere.

The 206 taking off from camp in Call Inlet

I think the thing that makes me so sad is that, besides my wife, you knew me better than anyone else in the world. We went through puberty together and discovered the world in a curious way, climbing water towers and riding dirt bikes on logging roads. And man, did we miss a lot of school together.
The Courtenay days at Vanier, driving Rob's Civic up to Mt. Washington and skiing for free. You could get away with it in those days and we did.
Or we would just hike up and build jumps.
That time when I lost my keys and we got into the car with a ski pole, through the back window, as I had a spare key in the ashtray for some reason? The keys were mailed to me with the Spring thaw, when some employee found them and saw that they had one of those TB Vets tags on them.

Chris Morgan, Shayne, Me, John Henry, aboard the ill-fated Texada, during the storm.

It's funny how we just go through the memories when someone we love dies. I guess they are all we have, it's all so fucking final. If you believe in an afterlife, you can have peace in knowing that you will see them again. But, even if we do believe in something other than this, this is all we have for now and it just hurts that they are gone.

Besides the memories, lies what was instilled in you, implanted in you, by them. By you.
And that is the thing that is the legacy. More than the memories.

The reason I try to take in all of my surroundings and be present in the moment, is because of you. when we were young, you always had a way of slowing things down and making me enjoy things more holistically. That sounds like a lot and it is. But those years we spent hitch hiking up and down the island, and hanging out on boats and wharfs, smoking, talking and watching the Sun go down or come up, taught me to see the beauty in the World, to not be so negative and judgemental.
You treated every person you met with the same reverance and trust.

The picture of you playing the harmonica on the dock at Deep Cove, is a favourite of mine. It really captures your essence, in a way that you were. That was September 19,1992 and I cannot believe it was that long ago. Those are the places now, that will have a magic and a sadness, the kind of place one pulls up to years from now and the son says, "Dad, why are you crying?"
And how does one explain the sheer madness, the power of friendship and the memories? Well, it can't be done. But you don't need to. It exists anyway.

Of course, I have regrets and guilt, like any normal person would. Like, why didn't I call more? Actually, that's really the only one. But it rests heavy upon me. You were always the better friend at staying in touch and I thank you for that. Because of you, there are many more memories. Like the Alberta trip in '96. I didn't want to go but you talked me into it. And we both got our criminal records there on that trip.

Pat Smith and Shayne on the beach at Tsawwassen, returning from the Alberta debacle 

It started as a trip to Oregon but they wouldn't let us across the border. You had no proper ID and there was another issue and it ended up us driving to Calgary instead. While there, we crashed that hotel, bought the room next door, and threw a party in both rooms! It was crazy. This is where we met Chris, the Scottish dude from the RAF, who coined "Cheers, there, ya little Beech Nut!"
Later the police came and you tried to bribe them and this was almost comic in its ridiculousness. You were in a cast and on crutches at the time, which made it all the more surreal.
When the Judge asked us if we had anything to say for ourselves, you pointed at your crutches, so I got up and apologised for being such delinquent little assholes. Our punishment was a $100 fine, which you paid before we left. You had a lot of money in your pocket, from a halibut trip you had just returned from.

Money never meant much to you, it seemed to slip through your hands. It's okay, it slips through mine, too. I think it does for most people.

You left me with a sense of wonder, a quest for knowledge and a thirst for life. I'll try to keep it top of mind and pass it on to my child.

Shayne, at Ian and Brandi's house, 2013.

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