Home Is Where The Heart Is…

An Excerpt from my book: “I Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven.”

Cmon in, the beer is fine.

“I boarded coach on the transcontinental at the very large
cavernous platform of the enormous train station that served my
hometown for over a hundred years. I could imagine then and
there, at that very moment in time, how the soldiers of the Great
War and World War II felt while leaving the familiarity and
warmth of families and loved ones for the trenches of France and
Belgium, or the training fields of England, knowing full well that
many of them would not be returning to the comforts of home.

Why did I feel this way? Think this way? At this particular
moment? I don’t really know, but the images of troops on trains
in cavernous train stations like this one just seemed to just pop
into my head for no apparent reason. It was as if this thought had
been ingrained into my psyche from such a young age that their
individual and collective sacrifices paved the way for my very
own freedom of choice at this very moment in time. As I was
waving goodbye to my parents, just as the transcontinental was
slowly leaving the station, I could almost see or visualize the
spectres of long-lost loved souls roaming about this station,
waving goodbye to their friends, their families, and their loved
ones for the very last time, for eternity. These willowy images
dissipated slowly like some mist of memory in the stillness
of time.

It took over three days to reach the coast. I was dead tired as
it was extremely difficult to sleep in coach. The scenery for a
young lad was extremely boring. Trees and lakes; trees and
lakes; the occasional hill covered with trees, then more lakes
with trees around them. Muskeg, Muskox, and Muskrat—it was
rather musky out there with a lot of musky critters running or
scampering through the musky forests of trees and lakes and
streams. Then more trees and more lakes and more trees and…
trees. Finally, no more trees. Just flat grassland. A sea, no, an
ocean of grass. More grass, then a lake, maybe a river bounded
by grass on all sides, but no trees, just grass. As far as the eye
could see. Grass! Sometimes a small rise would come into view,
a small hill covered with grass. I dreamed of grass, of trees, of
lakes of grassy knolls. It was weird, man, and I was no stoner

Finally hills, as barren as Sister Mary Bernice, my elementary
school principal, morphed into bigger hills which transformed
into very large hills with deep, deep valleys. Valleys
covered with trees. The mountains, the Rocky Mountains: all the
granite one could ever imagine. Most people see these mountains
as majestic, beautiful, God’s handiwork, a reflection of his
power: the very smallness of mankind in full view when
measured against this spectacular backdrop. Yet all I could think
of was granite. Enough granite to cover every kitchen countertop
on the planet. But wait, that wouldn’t occur for another thirty
years. What was I thinking?

Mountains, and more mountains, snow covered, nature’s
monuments. Mountain passes that provided a route for the early
explorers: Lewis and Clark, Thompson, Fraser, Carson, DiCrapio,
Morrison, I thought. Unbelievable! Then darkness. What?
These idiot trainers scheduled the very best transit, the transit
through the mountains, to occur at night? Dopes! And they called
us stoners! We would arrive at our west coast destination in the
morning? Try to sleep, I thought.

Waking up to a slow-moving chugalug train inching its way,
it seemed, into the outer ’burbs and run-down industrial sites of
this so-called magnificent coastal city. Magnificent in that it was
a large metropolitan area surrounded by the majesty of the
coastal mountain range and the Cascades: a nice name for a
string of active, dormant, and extinct volcanoes. Think of Mount
St Helens, Rainier, Hood, Baker, Shasta, and other nondescript
names for mountains that have the potential of wreaking natural
havoc, cascading death and destruction on an unsuspecting, unassuming
public. These mountainous, frighteningly natural mega-
liths formed a formidable barrier to the north and east of the
city’s metropolis but then were offset by the calm waters of the
Pacific Ocean bordering its northwest, west, and southwestern
flanks. Only problem with this visual description was the curtain
of rain, drizzle, and mist that permeated my vision out of the
coach’s dirty windows. These titans of nature and the oceanic
beauty and seemingly calmness of the Pacific were really just
figments of my active imagination in all of this rain, or as a
described picture by some nature magazine article I read about
the place.

My first impressions were not good. I found the outer fringes
of this city in disarray: disorganized, third worldly in its ardour
and its feel. Low rise buildings of various sizes and shapes with
facades of every colour of the rainbow. Ugly purples, grotesque
yellows, and grim orange decor trims added to this canvas of
dirty grey stucco buildings and rusted out arches and gantries of
the numerous bridges that spanned the delta of a mighty river.
With the dreariness of the rain and the drabness of the grey skies,
these colours and contours were transformed and morphed into a
visual scene that reminded me of some hippie’s bad acid dream
of an undulating kaleidoscope landscape of a barf-induced wasteland.
When we finally reached the western terminus of this
national journey, and could go no further, a young fellow like me
could only sigh a sigh of relief that the torturous three-and-ahalf-
day trek in coach was finally over.”

My sister met me at the station then took me to their abode in
the downtown core. They had rented an apartment in the city’s
west end, very close to the beach of a British-sounding bay with
water that was so cold as to render it un-swimmable. One would
have an extremely difficult time finding one’s privates and taking
a piss after a swim in waters such as this. And who was one
anyway? Close to that were funky-looking shops and high rise
concourses that spread their way along narrow streets, avenues,
and boulevards toward a massive green expanse of a park that
adorned itself with towering trees of old growth forest. But in the
rain these towering, magnificent giants of nature were mostly
obscured by the fog in the midst of a city that was blanketed for
the greatest part of the year by a canopy of clouds and mist. With
all of this rain the buildings of the downtown core exuded a
depressed aura of doom and gloom, being grey on the mind, grey
on one’s thoughts, with an outlook of a grey, depressing world in
the midst of all of this precipitation. “But at least it’s not snow,
you don’t have to shovel it,” I heard over and over again. Yes,
but saying this was really a defensive mechanism on the speaker’s
part, a sense of insecurity or rationalization by some idiot
who chose, regrettably, to live in such a grey expanse of concrete
within what is, in reality, an urban concrete rain forest. After a
few days of this I wondered how anyone in their right mind
could live there. The dampness of the place was bone-chilling
and mould-worthy. But then again I guess home is where the
heart is.”

Camino Frances: 60 days to go.

With all the LGBT craziness going on these days, I thought this song would be appropriate:

Way ahead of its time…I guess.

Read more of this existential journey through life in my book: “I Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven.” Click on the link at the top of the page. It’s available through Amazon.