So There We Were On the Side of the Road

There is about a six hundred kilometre gap between the place where I pay my taxes and the place where my soul resides, if I were to have a soul, which I know I do because I greet it everytime I pass the gates of Jasper National Park.


Not to get deep or anything. I’ve had a fever for the past week and as per usual, my perception is distorted. Fevers tend to do this to me, which I assume happens to everyone, because of terms like ‘fever dreams’. But no one talks about fever dreams. It must take a real intimate bond to share the reveries that despotic brain-boiling viruses submit the body into—a bond that I can’t even share with myself, because even when I think, post-fever, about anything I had been so deeply embroiled in during my illness, I can recall nothing.


But when I’m in the throes of fever the terror is all too real. I have Proustian memories tinged with Thompsonesque loathing and Burroughsish plot lines. I can remember things I had not thought of in decades. I re-experience events that I had completely forgotten about. It’s like viral fevers activate my memory lobe, which is already fairly active. And  when I’m not catatonic with fatigue and waves of vivid memories, I fall into a sweaty sleep that seems as surreal (but acute) as an acid trip—except that I remember these with alarming accuracy, unlike the fever dreams. (It probably doesn’t help that when I am in the depths of sickness I am dosed with dextromethropan hydrochloride-laced medicines to help me breathe.)


The term ‘fever dreams’ does not do the waking daydreams justice, though—sometimes English is such a powerful language with no force—‘fuck’ is its greatest acheivement, and it is considered bad form to use it freely—and even though German usually has the granduer of introducing long-winded words for academics to throw around and pine for how beautifully intranslatable they are, I will go further and shit all over their tongues. I call these hyper-intense, fever-induced trips through memory carfie (from the Spanish, carcel de fiebre, or fever prison, which is much more attuned to how I feel about the whole situation, and doesn’t sound beautiful or musical, it sounds just as awkward and ugly and stupid as it is).


But carfie or not, I had a trip to Jasper planned. The eastern slopes of the Rockies are one of my favourite places in the little bit of world I have experienced, and are a prime location to celebrate both the spring equinox and an early birthday.


It’s a six hour drive. I have done it handfuls of times. But, you see, we have a 2000 sedan with 325,000 km on the odometer and a crack in the oil pan, so our method of transport wasn’t reliable by any stretch. It doesn’t help that after fourteen winters of ice, gravel, and broken pavement, the ball joint of the front passenger side creaks every time you turn the wheel more than ninety degrees. It’s a bad omen, and sounds like the car cries a little bit every time you change directions.


A hundred and twenty-five kilometres down a highway lightly dusted with snow and well-padded with ice is a great time to grab the wheel tight—which was great, because it was just then that the ball joint decided to crack in two and send the passenger wheel off into the ditch. The front axel dipped and threw up sparks as the car skidded around and around and nearly got pummeled into oncoming traffic by the loaded semi who had been tailgating me, waiting to pass.


So there we were on the side of the road—but wait—this never happened—I’m sitting back home eyeing the piece of shit car in the driveway right now—but we did go to the mountains, that was true—and the ball joint is creaky—but—


Fucking carfies, man. One minute you’re careening around the corner in a deathrace with the barricade of a bridge, and the next you’re in Batman pyjamas realizing the mug you’re drinking from has been out of tea for a long time.


Time for a Nyquil nightcap…washed down with NeoCitran…I mean, it’s been years since I experienced my ninth birthday, and the time is probably ripe to re-experience those hours with the linguist who spent weeks trying to get me to pronounce L’s properly when I was five…“But how would you sing la-la-la-la?” “Ya-ya-ya-ya-ya”…She would be so disappointed in how much I mumble now…I wonder if she would enjoy my new word…And I wonder if that guy who robbed me on the bus when I was fourteen still has my hash pipe?


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