Almost ten years ago, after years of rumbling about it, Rusty and I finally made good on our plan to get the hell out of southern Ontario and move to British Columbia. We had the genius idea that we would sell almost all our worldly goods, pack up the cat and some clothes in the trusty hatchback, drive across the country (yes, with a cat), drop the cat off at a kennel in Vancouver, then drive some MORE up to northern BC, plant trees on the sides of rocky mountains for three months, then drive back to Vancouver and set up permanent base camp.
So, yeah, we ploughed our way through most of that itinerary fairly uneventfully (so long as you don't consider bear encounters, helicopter-fuel fires, and makeshift hottubs in the back of pickup trucks being driven by drunken university students to be "events"), and we were in the process of wrapping up our summer with a sojourn through the Rockies, from Jasper down to Banff, then due west to Vancouver.
It was evening when we got to Banff. Now, the sensible thing to have done would have been to find a cheap hotel room and then maybe stroll the streets, grab some fondue and overpriced fudge, and then eyeball the geodes in all the rock shops. Us? We blew off all that and went to see Independence Day.
Now, you have to understand that for three months we'd been deprived of not just total contact with family and friends, but also with the world of culture. The last movie we'd watched was Twister, and you'll know we were starved for the arts when I tell you we hooted and cheered throughout the second half of that movie like it was... I dunno... Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. (Sorry, that was a lame simile. I couldn't think of a good movie to end that sentence with, so I asked Rusty. This is what happens when you ask Rusty what kinds of movies he cheers during.)
Hmm... I just realized that the paragraph I just wrote is not germane to this story at all. Skip it if you want. This next paragraph, however, contains semi-important plot points. Not as important as the plot points in the paragraph after it, but you should probably pay attention anyway. If nothing else, it's good practice.
By the time we came out of the movie it was late... too late to rent a hotel room, in our considered opinion. We were reluctant to part with money we'd earned with our blood, sweat, and tears if all we were going to have time to do was sleep. (I don't know about you, but I don't feel like I've gotten my money's worth out of my accommodations unless I've watched a couple of hours of cable TV, taken a bath AND a shower, and used all the towels.) So we decided -- this is the part where it's obvious we were young and dumb -- to park in a truck stop (aka a parking lot) outside of Banff and sleep in the car.
We slept exactly as well as you'd guess, woke up early, pledged never to do that again, and started driving, full of piss and vinegar and fire for the open road. For about seven minutes. Then we hit a road construction site and were forced to sit and idle with all the other
Still stiff and cramped from our night of vehicular slumber, Rusty decided to get out of the car and stretch.
Okay, this is where the story gets interesting. But I realize that I've neglected a few salient points that I probably should have found a way to work in earlier:
- We'd been virtually incommunicado for months, but one of the few letters that found us was from Glark, sent many weeks earlier, merely stating that he'd been offered a job in LA and was planning to move there at some undetermined point in time.
- You need to understand that Glark is like the stinky little brother we never had. Until we started our little odyssey, we were accustomed to the pleasure of his company almost every single day. To say that we were experiencing Glark separation anxiety -- and that we were especially saddened that we knew not when we'd see him again -- is an understatement.
- As a statement of our platonic life partnership, Glark had designed a limited edition (limited to three, to be precise) t-shirt that prominently featured a proto-emoticon he'd labelled a "glark".
- Rusty had trashed most of his civvies while treeplanting, but had diligently preserved his Glark t-shirt. It being the only presentable item in his wardrobe, he was wearing it for our road trip.
- Rusty had bleached his dark hair platinum blond. (All the cool kids were doing it.) His own mother wouldn't have recognized him.
Rusty gets out of the car on the Trans-Canada Highway -- a highway that is 7,821 kilometres (that's 4,860 miles) from end to end -- wearing his Glark shirt. Minutes later, he hears his name being yelled. Then again.
You guessed it! It was Glark, who was driving to his new job! You're so smart.
Thinking about the chain of events that led to this serendipitous event is mind-boggling. What if we hadn't seen Independence Day and hosed ourselves out of renting a hotel room? What if there hadn't been road construction? What if we hadn't slept in our car, causing Rusty to need to stretch his aching limbs? What if Glark hadn't designed those shirts? What if Rusty hadn't been wearing his?
Is your mind boggled? Is your flabber gasted? Are you whelmed, perhaps overly?
At any rate, we hugged or something, then convoyed together to Vancouver, with a stopover in Kamloops or Kelowna. I always get those two mixed up. Maybe it was Vernon. Regardless, we got lots of quality Glark time -- with the added bonus of Papa Glark time; he was accompanying Glark on this trip and he is a lovely man -- so we were satiated with sufficient Glarkness to tide us over till our paths crossed again.
And that's how we all knew we were destined to be Best Friends 4ever!
Glark recently unearthed this Polaroid (remember Polaroids? They were the '90s equivalent of digital cameras for the I-want-it-NOW generation) he snapped of me and Rusty moments after we discovered each other on the Trans-Can. I have no idea why we're posing like that, other than to speculate that maybe it was subconsciously because Papa Glark used to be a cop.
Good god. We look so young. And HOT. Is it immodest to say this about your decade-younger self? I mean, yes, we were also filthy. Granted. And sunburned. And I bet we were feculent with road-sweat stank. Still, I wish we could jump into a time-travel machine and go back and have an orgy with ourselves. Is that wrong?
So top that story. I double-dog dare you.