Monday, April 26, 2010

Ashes to ashes.

I've slept with a few tomcats, a silver fox, a selfish stallion, my share of coyotes, and more pigs than I care to remember, but this weekend was a first.

I spent the night with a lifeless dog.

After going down swingin' through the trap door of Canada Writes, I hopped in a rental car and headed north. My rental turned out to be a Toyota, so I matted it – figuring I'd play the uncontrollable acceleration card, should I be pulled over by the OPP.

Canada Writes was a nerve-wracking blast and I had mixed feelings about leaving it behind. The contestants, producers, singers, Judges and GO-host Brent Banbury were all terrific. Fuck what everyone says about CBC – this was a smart, dedicated crew of people who appeared to love their jobs. I told everyone the show was airing next week so no one would listen to me making an ass of myself. Pity though, those who whereby missed Chloe's absolutely brilliant deli-meat rendition of Feist's, 1,2,3,4. As it turned out, "putting myself out there" as a friend called it – was actually fun – although having to censor my natural irreverence was like suppressing vomit. (Tune in to the final, May 7th, live from the "Peg".)

One of the nicest things about being back in Toronto, besides being surrounded by energetic people who get paycheques – is getting the hell out. Leaving the mosques and constipation of the city behind – heading north on Airport Road is a free spirit's dream. I noticed with a twinge of ire, that the townhome developments stretch almost up to Caledon now – identical rows of depressing housing meccas with names like Housewife's Leap and Laminate Ridge. It pisses me off to see lovely century farms being plowed over, making way for such thoughtless developments – but once you get beyond that, it's all good.

My past came back to haunt me north of Alliston, and I almost swerved over to pick up a six-pack of Lonesome Charlie, but then I remembered I was pushing 50, and going 130km for a reason.

I was going to meet my man.

An hour or so later, that first glimpse of Georgian Bay took my breath away, and I got all verklempt. Georgian Bay is the lover you never get over. The first crush. Just looking at the turquoise flecked with navy blue makes me all happy/sad and I want to dive right in. (Judge, Arlene Dickinson said my writing had a schizophrenic quality, but this isn't Dragon's Den, so screw her, I'm sticking with happy/sad. What does a beautiful, self-made millionaire know anyway?).

Pulling in to the the ski hill where I grew up, I finally caught a glimpse of my man. He was in the arms of another woman – in a cardboard box. My beloved dog Hooey's ashes. I left Georgian Bay soon after he died and I was finally back to get him. My plan was to take Hooey for his final hike and scatter his ashes in the field. The field on top of the escarpment I was about to climb. The field where I'd like to be scattered someday, to the tune of popping champagne corks and the occasional sniffle, snort, or "woo hoo, the miserable bitch is dead!".

But I couldn't do it. I just wasn't ready to let him go.

Hooey came into my life by accident. I was pregnant, alone, and dying for an ice cream cone. I stopped at the local mall, where a sign in the pet store window caught my eye: "Lab mix pups for sale". I looked at the half-dozen puppies bouncing around, then spotted a really fat fluffy one, sound asleep at the back. I'll take that one. For a hundred bucks, I got a bag of dog food and 13-years of selfless, unconditional love.

We hiked to my field, then I headed back to Toronto with Hooey as my wing man. The two of us flying down the highway, just like old times. Mindful of an early morning flight and my concern over getting him through airport security, we ordered room service and watched the hockey game, curled up in the hotel bed like comfortable, faithful old lovers. Just me and my box. Falling asleep, I noted he doesn't fart as much as he used to – but he's still "the one".

He'll always be the one.

Peaceful Acres is pet cemetary outside of Havenot somewhere. When it's time, call (902) 499-9289 or try