A few nights ago, Matthew and I drove up to Whistler. His dad owns a condo there that Matthew is free to use whenever no one else is there, and the weekend we spent there together the first time I visited him here in Vancouver last year remains one of my standout memories. For one thing, it’s in the mountains and every inch is beautiful. For another, there’s no internet, which is either a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it. But I was on vacation then and those few days were a taste of the first real rest I had had in years.
The plan this weekend was to drive up late at night after we went to a Reiki meetup-thing where I gave a talk on shamanism and did a guided meditation. I could talk for paragraphs about Creepy Reiki Guy but Whistler stands in the way and I don’t want to mar the beauty with the memory…[shudder].
Driving at night had some advantages:
1. Less traffic.
2. We’d wake up in Whistler. Yay!
3. We’d avoid construction problems. There’s going to be an Olympics here in just over a year and somebody decided that for those two weeks it was necessary to spend several years and who knows how many gazillion dollars to take 100 miles of road from two lanes to four. Construction is done mainly at night, when they close down the road to blast another few inches of rock from the sides of mountains, and we’d arrive in Whistler well before the 2 am cutoff.
We left well before 10 pm. I was exhausted at 3 pm, looking forward to nothing more than getting through the evening, making the two-hour drive in the dark, and crashing by about midnight in the mountains. There we were, flying through 50 kmh construction zones, endless lines of orange cone-things zig-zagging across the dark road, when Matthew spots a sign. Something about “road closed” and “10 pm – 2 am.” It was well after 10 at that point so we told one another that we were going too fast to see the sign properly and they couldn’t have been serious, because anyway wasn’t the closure at like 2 am?
About 20 minutes from our destination, without warning, the cars ahead are completely stopped. Dead stop. We wait there, idling a bit. Cars ahead are turning off their lights. It’s 11:00 and the road is closed for the next 3 hours.
Okay, I just realized something. This is an incredibly boring post. How can I punch it up a little? Chainsaw-wielding inbreeding Deliverance refugees? (in the mountains of British Columbia…a little far-fetched?) Out-of-body experiences? A partaayy with the chocolate fondue-maker there in the back seat?
However, the car directly behind ours was filled with assholes, a mixed-gender group of about 6-8. They had food in their car, and beer. I could see them consuming it when I peered obsessively into my rearview mirror, at least when I wasn’t temporarily BLINDED by the asshat in that car behind them who insisted on keeping his headlights on for, like, ever.
NOTE: If you are ever at a dead stop on a highway in British Columbia at midnight, knowing you won’t be going anywhere for at least three hours, TURN OFF YOUR FUCKING LIGHTS.
Thank you. End of public service announcement.
Yeah. So I rearranged stuff in the back so seats could recline. A couple of hours later I figured out that Matthew had the better part of the deal since he wasn’t having to deal with a steering wheel and pedals, but we sort of lay there and talked. I was getting all sleepy (remember I had in it my head that by midnight I was going to be passed out comfortably, and—ding!—timer went off and I was dozing….)
MATTHEW: I really like talking with you like this.
ME: [silence] [fighting off urge to sleep] [becoming more awake now] [actually becoming interesting in conversation] Hey, that thing you said back then? Here’s my long and totally vulnerable story about it which I have never told anyone alive or dead before talktalktalktaktalk.
Yeah. He slept for like and hour and a half while I say/lay there in the dark, not sleeping, thinking about beds. The assholes in the car behind regularly got out of their car and walked right past our windows with the audacity to talk out loud. Assholes. Also I saw one girl peeing at the side of the road.
Ahead there was an occasional sound of big trucks beeping when they backed up, but other than that it was quiet. Trees loomed out of the shadows that covered both sides of the road. I envisioned deer peering at us from among the dark thickety trees, or maybe bears. Beardeers. Once in awhile someone sort of shadowy and quiet would lurch out of the darkness, and the occasional big construction truck lumbered by, wielding the importance of privilege. They could drive on the road but we had to wait.
It got cold in the car with the engine off. My wool blend coat didn’t cover me, and Matthew appropriated the quilt we had brought for sleeping under in Whistler (to be fair, he offered me part of it, but I’m an anal fanatic about what’s “clean” and “not-clean”, and the thought of later sleeping under a quilt that had touched semi-dirty parts of the car was too much to bear and I declined, requesting that at least he keep the end bits off the floor, and I tried not to look too hard to see if he did), so I thought about being warmer and tried to remember what patience felt like. It was only going to be three hours, not a lifetime. It wasn’t long ago that I sat for 12 hours a day in meditation for ten days; surely I could do this.
At last the energy of the place changed. There was never any definite “all-clear” or notification that the time in construction purgatory was ending, but one by one the cars ahead turned on their engines and slowly moved back into a world of light.
Fifteen minutes later, we were in Whistler. This other surreal world in which we had spent three hours was almost within walking distance of a warm bed.
It wasn’t until we finally got going again that I noticed that the entire time, the background was punctuated with deep booms. I sort of thought it was distant thunder, or the wind, but they were blasting and we were mere feet away, and I hadn’t noticed.