Monday, August 10, 2009


i was making my way down Main Street making disastrous financial decisions (but wonderful fashion choices) when my friend patty called me up and asked me if i wanted to go on a spontaneous road trip to Whistler. i went. i had only made it to 20th Avenue and had already blown $200 on shopping, and was quite ready to spend more, had Patty not called me. thankfully the patron saint of my credit card intervened and we were off exploring the sea to sky highway...

...which, as we discovered is quite a trip. it's just this highway that basically runs along the cliff face, giant mountains on one side of you, a steep drop into the ocean on the other side of you. intimidatingly beautiful. unbelievably dangerous.

...especially if you factor in what we out-of-province girls have yet to get used to. there are long stretches of roads in British Columbia where there are no gas stations, no stores, nothing but pure wilderness and road. this is great if you want a retreat from hectic civilization. this is bad if you are out of gas, and on a highway with sharp curves, steep cliffs, and no shoulders to pull over on.

i was getting pretty worried. at that point, we were approaching squamish, which was where my friend Majewski had passed away a month ago, when he fell off a cliff hiking. it was an uncomfortable remind of how the wilderness of british columbia was as cruel and dangerous as it was beautiful. thankfully the patron saint of road trips intervened and allowed us to coast to a little town with a little gas station. we'd had to back track fifteen kilometres but at least we made it when the needle was on empty. at the gas station, i kissed the solid ground and then bought a bunch of chips, chocolate, candy and gatorade to last us for the rest of the way to Whistler.

we met up with Patty's friend Jesse who took us into the village in Whistler. he works as a journalist for the local newspaper, so his nose for the news made him an excellent tour guide. we had dinner at a little sushi shop run by koreans; i'm not sure if we scored the free agedashi tofu because Jesse is a regular or because i ordered my meal in korean. then we took a stroll through the village by the shops and the bars and the fancy hotels. the village is an odd place. i couldn't place my finger on it. it had something to do with the disproportionately affluent population, the expensive drinks, and the faux euro feel to the architecture. because it's unabashedly blatantly built for tourists, it has this curious Disneyland feel to it. and yet it was undoubtedly in the heart of nature, by the enormous mountains and the forests, and you just had to look up to see the ravages of what the previous weeks' forest fires had left behind. people came to Whistler because the nature here is very real - and yet, there was a very fake feel to it at the same time. it was wilderness, but tamed wilderness, like manmade wilderness...or at least man-manicured wilderness. it'll be interesting how that whole feeling explodes with the Olympics next year.

patty and i drove Jesse's girlfriend Sheila home, who is a music therapist. she slept most of the way in the back seat, and patty played her favourite spanish songs for me, including this one beautiful piece by Bebe called Razones.

tengo razones, razones de sobra
para pedirle al viento que vuelvas
aunque sea como una sombra
tengo razones, para no quererte olvidar...

we were driving back through Squamish just then, and i couldn't help but think about my dead friend, how every time i try to write a song now, he keeps popping up, even though we were never that close. and how beautiful this song is now, how perfectly suited the spanish voice is to the grief the words convey, how hollow and empty and real the feelings that resonate in the midst of the wilderness here, the real wilderness, not the manicured wilderness of whistler village or blackcomb mountain, but the real wilderness of the sea to sky highway, where at any moment your loved ones could drop off and die, where at the same time you can't help but gasp at the beautiful scenery of mountains and oceans cloaked in sunset, and you can understand how you might want to lose yourself here.

i have reasons, many reasons
to ask the wind to bring you back
even if it is as a shadow
i have reasons not to forget you...