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REJOINDERS 2005-02 (Feb)

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Dylan Blacquiere writes...

Okay, I'm finally sitting down and writing this, listening to Sarah Harmer and Great Big Sea on the CD player, making a conscious decision that I'd rather do this instead of writing my Master's thesis. "Gargoyles" has already scored me a fiancee and a passion for writing, so if the show screws up my degree for me, I'll consider the score even. (It's not much of a sacrifice, though - write a Gathering journal or write about garlic compounds deactivating enzymes? Hmm…Gathering. Definitely Gathering.


My trip actually started late - I had to go to school and finish up some microsome incubations, which involves taking poisonous solvents and mixing them with tiny little flecks of protein from pieces of human lungs. I kid you not. I am Anton Sevarius in embryo. But it wasn't just that; I skipped off on the weird science early to go home and do laundry and then get my money changed to American dollars, and then, after grabbing the requisite cup of Tim Hortons' coffee (medium with milk, not quite the Canadian double-double institiution but it was close enough) and then drove to Ottawa to spend the night at Wingless' place. It was a fairly uneventful night, as all we really did was plot our route and reassure Wingless' parents that yes, I was a capable driver and yes, we knew how to get to the bus station to pick up Laine, and no, we really didn't want food because we'd already had supper. I finally got to sleep at midnight for a four-hour nap.


Up at 4 a.m. through the miracle of circadian rhythms - the alarm clock of course fails to go off, just a harbinger of mechanical problems to come, but otherwise nothing more than annoyance. We got to the bus station at about 5:30 to pick up Laine, who'd arrived on the bus from London at 4 and was quite cheerful for having waited in a bus station in Ottawa for an hour and a half. Finally we left Ottawa and took off for Brockville (and yes, we stopped for Tim Hortons' - when you leave Canada, you have to have their coffee, because it's going to be a while before you can partake of such an institution again.) We got our birth certificates and passports out, and crossed the border at the Thousand Islands bridge near Brockville.
Now, no offense to America, and I do realize that things are a bit touchy with homeland security, but I hate crossing the border into your country. Hate it. Your border guards are all cranky and as soon as you mention you're going to a sci-fi/fantasy convention, you're screwed. I still bear the scars of crossing at Sarnia last year to go to BotCon. However, to my surprise, this guard was nice, and even expressed a bit of bemused wonder at the fact that people were going all the way form Ottawa to New York to talk about gargoyles. "They have a convention about that?" he asked, but it was a nice tone of voice, the sort that you know he's going to laugh at you for being a geek as soon as your back is turned, but he was friendly enough, and off we went to the heart of a foreign land. Laine slept a lot, and Wingless patiently put up with me switching the radio station every few minutes, though he did sometimes make me pause whenever he heard a nice oldies song that he liked. The true Canadian spirit of compromise.
The rest of the trip was mostly uneventful, though we did get lost in Scranton, Pennsylvania and found ourselves lost in a pleasantly scary sort of town with white houses and little statuettes of Elvis and the Virgin Mary on every front lawn. But we eventually made our way to New Jersey, where we promptly missed an exit and then missed the Lincoln Tunnel. I blamed it on the newness of driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, though I might have done better if I'd not been peering at the Manhattan skyline through the window instead of the highway signs. But make it we did - into the Lincoln Tunnel and into the hell of traffic in midtown Manhattan.
Why are there lanes on the streets in Manhattan? No one ever uses them. I have no idea how seven lanes of traffic can fit on a street that's clearly marked with four lanes, but somehow, Manhattan managed. I knew it was the greatest city in the world, but I had no idea that the mathematically impossible was commonplace here. But you know what? I figured it out, and soon we were driving around like pros. I even cut off a New York City taxi cab and lived to tell the tale. That was when I knew that I belonged, when some guy in a cab behind me was shaking his fists and yelling incomprehensible curse words. I wonder if that's how Peter Jennings feels, driving to work every day.
We got the car taken care of - I should mention that we drove Stormy's car, so leaving it in the care of the valet was a bit of a worry, but we decided to let it go. So in we went to the hotel, and we started looking around for the well-hidden registration desk. We got our stuff safely stowed in consuite until we found our roommates, and soon I had met Chyna Rose, Kellie and Stephen Sobotka, who were kind enough to give me a place to stay for the weekend. After a brief settling-in period, I started wandering around, looking for unfamiliar faces with recognizeable nametags. I ended up in the banquet room for a panel on myths and history being given by Kathy Pogge, Lynati, Batya and Greg Bishansky, who all had very intriguing thinsg to say. I raised my hand to offer a comment and Kathy asked me who I was.
"Oh, hi, I'm Dylan Blacquiere."
They clapped for me. I sort of wondered why nice things like that didn't happen at school, but it was flattering beyond words and that was when I knew that I was going to have a good time at this convention. I know that sounds cocky, and I would have had a good time if they'd booed and thrown pencils at me, but still…
The rest of the afternoon was meet-and-greet, and I got to talk to Lynati, Greg Bishansky, Batya, Constance, Kathy, Patrick Toman, Spacebabie, Mooncat, Princess Alexandria, A Fan, Brooklyn Magus, Gorebash, Guandalug and quite a few others who I'd been looking forward to meeting for a long, long time. It really was like meeting old friends, and I don't think I've ever felt quite as much at home amongst a group of "strangers" before. I got to check out the art rooms, too, and there I met Ellen Stolfa, and I swear to every God that my heart must have leapt up to my nasopharynx, because she just gave off this incredible, radiant aura of joy at being there and when I hugged her, I felt a bit of it wash over onto me. We had a wonderful introduction, and when I left to get cleaned up for the opening ceremonies, I really do think I was floating towards the elevator.
I met more people at Opening Ceremonies, too…Mara and Aaron and the rest of constaff, Sarah the Great, Revel, Siryn, IRC Goliath and so many others that the names are just running together in this haze of fond memory and reminisence. And then we went in and I first saw Greg Weisman, Thom Adcox and Vic Cook, who looked vaguely surprised that things were still happening seven years after the first Gathering but still put on one heck of a show. All the old stories were new for me, as I'd never heard them, and I got to see the original pitches and the Bad Guys reel and all of those treasures for the first time. I thought they were great and I had a wonderful time sharing in the excitement and anticipation of the Gathering. I even got a few people who came up to me and asked questions about writing, and that was grand fun.
After that, before the OtherCon round robin panel, Kellie and Chyna Rose took me across the street for Sbarro and we got pizza and I bought a beer. I did not go into Rick Mercer "Talking to Americans" mode, though I was tempted, and I was grateful for getting my first taste of New York outside the hotel. We went to the OtherCon Round Robin, hosted by Mooncat, who got us going on a scenario involving Owen Burnett and Maria Chavez. I met more people here, like Diamond Debbie, and while I spent a lot of time in a futile attempt trying to get the bottle cap off of the Corona (I never did succeed and I left it in the hotel room fridge and as far as I know, it sits there still) I also had a great time. I also earned a nickname, which I will not share here, but it involves a word that I used in my contribution for the round robin that starts with the letter "c". And to think, I used to be considered an innocent. Then we went for a walk, all the way up Sixth Avenue to Times Square, where I betrayed my roots as a small-town Prince Edward Islander by looking up instead of forward and almost knocking over a few of the natives. Even now I still treasure the fact that on midnight on a Friday night, while all of my friends from school were sitting on the Margaritaville patio in Kingston listening to waiters from the Lone Star introduce themselves as "Rustler" and "Chuckwagon", I was standing in Times Square.
I was standing in Times Square.
Wow. I wish I could tell my parents, but they still think that I was in Ottawa, visiting friends for the Canada Day celebrations. I'm such a liar.
After that, we went to the OtherCon mug-a-guest, where I met Allaine and was present for "the revelation", which I thought made sense. I also tried to ask a question, one that I knew had been asked countless times before, but I just wanted to get my voice in the room. It was something about where gargoyles fit on the taxonomic tree, and Greg said, of course, that he didn't really know. (I also suggested that if Lexington wanted to get married he could move to Toronto now, and Thom thought that was pretty funny). Like everyone else, we finally got kicked out at 2 a.m. and I went back to my room, feeling the pleasant glow of my first night among so many friends. Or maybe it was the couch I was sleeping on. Whatever it was, I did manage to get a good night's sleep.


Nathan's is expensive, and the hash browns were weird - not what I was used to at all. But it was still a nice breakfast with my roommates, writers all, and I got those first cups of oh-so-precious coffee into me that gave me the strength to go across the street and peek around at Penn Station and the accompanying K-Mart with Kellie and ChynaRose. You still have K-Mart in the States. That's so cool. I also got a chance to see Greg Weisman near the London Suite, where I thanked him for indirectly getting Stormy and I together. He told me that he was surprised how many couples get together because of Gargoyles. None of us knew that another one would be entwining during the course of this year's Gathering, of course, but now part of me is wondering if some year a bidding group won't try to sell their Gathering bid on a mass wedding ceremony to be held at the masquerade.
My morning, however, was geared towards the coffee meeting in front of City Perk in the lobby, where Patrick and Allaine and Ellen and I were meeting to discuss the upcoming panel on creating memorable characters. It was a great conversation (with more coffee) and we managed to come up with good discussion points that we hoped wouldn't be given to empty air, since our panel was opposite the TGS discussion. But we actually had a good turnout with lots of interested, interesting people. Not only that, but Ellen, Patrick and Allaine made the panel seem like a discussion among friends, and I think that I had my best time sitting in the London Suite, just talking about writing and characterization with people I admire and others who were as interested and intrigued about creating people as I was. It's things like that panel that make me realize how much I love crafting things with words. Writers really are my favourite people, and spending any amount of time hanging around with them and talking about it is always a treasure.
After that, I stayed in London Suite where I took part in Kathy's "Three Scenarios in Search of a Plot" workshop, where I wrote a scenario that had seems bizarre now but at the time, having Brooklyn crack jokes about beaver dams in bathtubs to a Quarrymen with buck teeth seemed perfectly reasonable. I had a great time here, too - it was a great way to stay sharp, and hey, when am I gonna pass up a chance to scribble stuff? I also met a very nice girl who wrote her scenarios in storyboard form, and she wanted me to have them because she liked my writing. I kept them, and they're in my apartment right now, one of the many souvenirs I kept.
Right after that was the Crossover panel that I was giving with Lynati and Norcumi, and that, again, was excellent fun, though at the start I was surprised to see Princess Alexandria in the room. "I didn't know you wrote crossovers," I said.
"Oh, I don't," she replied. "I just want to hear you say 'aboot' again."
The panel went fine, and after that, I went to soak up conversations with friends, since almost five hours in London Suite was starting to get me itchy for socializing. I went to ConSuite where people were filking songs, and Laine and I played a couple of songs on the tin whistle and bodhran. We are so having a kitchen party next year in Montreal.
The radio play was fun, too - I didn't audition, mostly because I didn't think that my accent would let me score a part, but it was still a treat to watch. Claw stole the show. True artistry.
While we waited for the banquet to start, I went to look around the art room some more, where for a while I got insnaely jealous because I can't draw stick men, but I also got to look at some truly wonderful artwork by some incredibly talented artists. At the banquet I sort of wandered up to Nichelle Nichols and shook her hand as she walked in. She was incredibly gracious, and gave off an air of serenity and patience, though I think part of it was the fact that this, not being a Star Trek convention, meant that people wouldn't come up to her and ask her to page Starfleet over subspace channels "just for them". I sat with Kathy and Wingless and Guandalug and Seth and Duncan, and we enjoyed our meal tremendously (though the Caesar salad was a bit too strong, I found, but hey, if that's all there is to complain about…) Nichelle gave gracious answers to many questions, and the passion and artistry she gave off when talking about stage performances, well holy Jeez. Amazing woman. I was glad I got the chance to eat a lemon meringue tart in the same room as she. And I got more coffee, too.
I didn't get dressed up for the Masquerade, and I sort of regret that - next year, if I can dye my hair blond and my skin green and somehow make wings, I'm going as Bonavista. But there were so many great costumes, and I got to sit and enjoy them with Lynati and Mara and the rest of constaff, who were just a sheer joy to hang around with. Revel as Vinnie was my favourite, I have to admit…there's something about "whoa" that just conveys so much depth and emotion, even more than John Travolta would ever be capable of. Awesome, Revel. The rest of the masquerade seemed to flash by, with the art awards and the souvenir shirts - I got a hoodie, and I wore it all night afterward, I liked it so much. I got Mardi Gras beads from a very nice person dressed as Gruoch, I saw Thom Adcox give the ritual Dropping-of-the-Pants, and later on he made fun of my accent too. I got to have a nice chat with him and Greg, and I found out that Thom had done some work in a tarvelling show across Canada a few years back. He said he's always liked the country. I think he'll enjoy Montreal.
After the masquerade, I stayed for the start of the Rocky Horror showing - I got the letter V written on my forehead with lipstick and I won the contest for all of the Rocky Horror virgins, though again, I think I'll leave that to the imagination. However, I skipped off before the movie started, as I finally got the chance to go out with Ellen Stolfa for a beer and conversation. It took us a while to find a place, and when we did, it was a dive Irish pub just across the street, but it was still wonderful. I like Irish pubs better than most bars anyway - never found one that's steered me wrong yet.
And here was where the magic happened.
Oh, of course that's hyperbole, because it was two friends talking over drinks and occasionally cursing when the Chicago Cubs lost ponts to the Boston Red Sox on the baseball game tuned in on the TV over the bar, but on the other hand, this was what I had come to New York for. Meeting friends. Maybe this will dismay the constaff, who did a wonderful job in the art room and the auction and all the rest, but in the end, the Gathering is, to me, about Gathering with friends, and doing so with a person and friend that I admire so much just seemed to encapsulate the whole experience right there. We talked about Chicago, we talked about classical music. We talked about September 11th and what it had meant to both of us. We talked about writing and we talked about nonsense and it was just so wonderful that I'm babbling about it and I know but I really can't help it. Just a conversation among friends, in the end, but at the same time, it felt more real than any conversation I'd ever had with any of my friends from school in bars or anywhere else. I will treasure that beer and that hour and a half beyond anything else that weekend, which is not to say anything bad about the rest of the Gathering, but that's just the honest truth. Ellen, thank you.
It wasn't over then, of course - we went back to the hotel and had another writing conversation with Mandy Ohlin till well nigh 3 in the morning, and then we ducked down to Mooncat's room and talked with she, Princess Alexandria, Allaine and the Bizz for a while longer. And then I crashed, said my good nights, and went to bed, where I drifted off to sleep feeling more connected with everyone at the Gathering than ever before.


I was sort of dreading this day, because so many of my friends were leaving, but I still managed to have a good time all the same. I went for a walk with Kellie and shared breakfast with her, and then wandered around through the last events of the Gathering. I checked out the auction for a while, and then went to the Team Atlantis panel with Greg. I had no idea what Team Atlantis even was, so I was going in completely cold, but still, seeing the storyboards and hearing the tape of the cast reading of "The Last" was still a great experience. I never was too fussy on Atlantis, to be honest, and hearing Demona invoke a magic spell just before Milo Thatch screams "Jiminy Christmas!!" will never strike me as the most congruent moments of storytelling, but it was still fun.
The closing ceremonies were sad - I didn't want to see the Gathering end, though I did finally get the chance to sit down and talk with a few people I'd missed, like Leo and Flanker and Arno and Robert. I also somehow managed to win the raffle ticket for free registration to next year's Gathering in Montreal, how about that? It's like winning the 50/50 at the hockey rink, only much cooler. I think I will always remember some of the room clapping and cheering when I went up front to have the ticket checked. It was almost as if people were actually happy that I was going to Montreal. Well, good news - I paid twenty bucks anyway and signed up Stormy to come with me, so next year you get to meet us together. Nous penserons que le Gathering 2004 sera tres, tres, bien. If that's wrong, I'm sorry - my French is Acadian, so I plead cultural assimilation. I clapped till my hands were sore, I bought the picture that Revel had drawn of Whitbourne getting Lexington drunk to win at a hand of poker. And then, when I could postpone it no longer, I managed to somehow say farewell to Ellen and Allaine and Kelly and all the others who had to go, and then I set about trying to find a place to stow my swag for the night so that we could stay one more night in Manhattan. And I did, and so a whole crowd of us met in the lobby with Greg Weisman (who looked and acted for all the world like he had not expected his time as a writer for television to lead him to a career as a tour guide-cum-babysitter for straggling Gargoyles fans who threatened to get lost on the subway at every turn.
I went with Mandy Ohlin, and we ended up in a crowd with Princess Alexandria, Mooncat, Leo, Brooklyn Magus and a few others as we took in the sights, both of the subway system and Coney Island. Once I figured out the turnstiles, all was well, and we first stopped at Ground Zero to pay our respects.
This is sort of hard, because I came there with the perspective of someone who knew he was very much the outsider. I've never been to New York, so I've never seen the Twin Towers standing there, and on September 11th all of my news was coming to me through the radio so I didn't see the television signals and pictures that everyone else couldn't stop watching until much later. It's been mostly cleaned up - the site looks like a construction zone, as though something's being built instead of having been cleared away. Yet at the same time, its impossible not to feel the echo of the towers. You can't help but feel, looking at this empty space, that there should be something there, and your eyes are drawn upward in a reflexive motion as you try to imagine how the outlines of the towers looked, how they must have blotted out the sun and dominated the cityscape. And then it hits you, the enormity of what happened here, and you just can't help but feel this slow yet overpowering sadness that just fills you up, right to the brim. People died here, you think. The world changed here. And you feel guilty for lingering, because it is a memorial site, but at the same time, you can't help but tear yourself away.
Part of me wondered if it was appropriate to have a good time at Coney Island after this, but the more I think about it, the more it seems that the only way to fight such sadness is to revel in the simple pleasures of life that come after. So we left Ground Zero behind us to rejoin the world beyond, but at the same time, that place never really leaves you.
When we got to Coney Island, people were clearly in the mood for some fun, so off we went to pay good money for the priviledge of riding vomit-inducing roller coasters and eating greasy midway food, and I miss the place obscenely. It's like a cheesy parody of a midway, and you can tell that its glory days are behind it, but at the same time, it's filled with nothing but pleasure and fun and amusement and it's impossible not to have a good time. We went on the Cyclone twice, and I just about got thrown out of the back seat. Dislocated ribs? Pfft. I went again. We also went on a fruitless quest to find the funhouse from "The Reckoning". I asked Greg which one it was.
"I don't know. Maybe Demona and Fang wrecked it," Greg said. He sounded vaguely bored. "I don't really know which one it was. I didn't have anything to do with the artwork."
So we went to Dante's Inferno, which seemed like it might have been the one. Never, never go into a funhouse where the ticket booth warns you that no refunds will be given. Mooncat and I shared a car and we went through an irritating darkness where plastic witches and vampires jumped out from coffins lit haphazardly with strobe lights. I don't know what was scarier - that a door in the place almost cracked me in the elbow, or that we saw a woman cowering in her boyfriends arms when they got out of the car. Oh well. You can't go to a midway without blowing away money on at least one crappy ride, and hey, it was Coney Island.
We went on the Ferris wheel, we went on the Zipper and almost got concussions from the change falling out of our pockets. We played skee-ball and won tickets that we blew on happy-face mini-frisbees that we all signed, and that disk is still in my souvenirs pile as well. We ate midway food and watched breakdancers who didn't seem to know that the 80's were over. And Wingless threw a water bottle at me; he claims to have been startled by a moth, but really I think he's just violent beneath his pleasant, friendly exterior. And then we went back to the hotel, where I wandered up to ConSuite and watched Cowboy Bebop for a while before surrendering to the lack of sleep and going to bed, my last night in New York City.


A detour is not supposed to be that complex a thing, yet somehow, in going out to grab a bagel for breakfast, I ended up on the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I looked at the buildings from up on high, considered myself satisfied, and then went back down. It's the sort of thing that my dad would do, so I did my filial duty by playing tourist.
Monday was spent packing and getting ready to go home. I said my farewells to all of the others, and Wingless and Laine and I began the process of getting the car back and leaving Manhattan.
Cue the ominious Hitchcock music.
I should have figured something was up when the security system on Stormy's car started frigging up, but we eventually got it to work and made it out of Manhattan and into New Jersey. We stopped for lunch and started heading west on I-80, and then we stopped for gas at a dinky little town where the attendant yelled at me for trying to pay with exact change. We got back on the highway and noticed that the radio was buzzing and that the electrical systems were starting to screw up, one by one by one. When the speedometer started reading that we were barrelling down the highway at almost 150 miles an hour (though were were only going 75) I decided to pull off to the side and stop the car.
Well that worked fine. However, the car wouldn't start again, no matter how much I prayed or cursed or begged. We called for help, we got the car onto the shoulder, and I kept trying, but nothing worked. The car was as dead as Demona's chances of winning Homemaker of the Year in Chatelaine magazine.
Of course this wasn't really happening, I told myself. I haven't broken my fiancees car in the middle of New Jersey and not have her CAA card. I haven't stranded us in New Jersey. Any second I'm going to wake up in New York City and find myself lying hungover after that beer on Saturday night.
No such luck. Not only that, but the tow truck we had called apparently thought we were stranded in some other New Jersey, and just wasn't showing up. We tried everything else we could think of - we stood in a line at the side of the road and tried to look pitiful, and Wingless even took out his white cane to appeal to the heartstrings. We were having crazed images of people finally stopping for us on the road and asking if we'd broken down. "Oh, that's too bad," we imagined them saying, and then we'd picture them digging into a paper bag that they'd keep for just such an occasion. "Here, have a cookie," they'd say, and then drive off. This didn't happen, though we'd laugh hopelessly about it for the rest of the night.
Eventually a New Jersey state trooper pulled up and called another tow truck, driven by a guy who looked for all the world like an extra from "The Sopranos". The mechanic promptly loooked at the car an announced that we'd need a new alternator. We somehow managed to squeeze four of us into a three person cab - after I saw him drag the car onto his flatbed so that the tailpipe scraped the asphalt and gave off sparks, of course - and then he drove us to his repair shop in Kenvil, New Jersey.
"New alternator, and a new battery," said the mechanic, half an hour later, after Laine and I had spent ten dehydrated minutes in a battle of wits with an insolent pop machine. "I could fix it in about a half hour, but I'm not going to. See, my five-year-old son's first baseball game is tonight and I can't miss that. You'd be better off getting a motel and staying the night. I'll get to it in the morning."
They did drive us to a nearby motel, though - I have nothing but good things to say about that mechanic, I just wish we'd never met them - where I found out that the cell phone would only make emergency calls outside of Ontario and then had to use my phone card to call Stormy, her parents, and then Wingless' parents to tell them what had happened. We got yelled at by the motel owner who wanted to see my drivers license even though we got the room in Wingless' name, and then we went in to find the fragrant odour of mildew and moist linen. A real catswinger of a motel, as Laine said, but we were just grateful to be off the highway. So we tried to make ourselves at home. We walked to town for supper, to a mom-and-pop Italian place where the panzarotti was made with cottage cheese instead of mozzarella, and then to a grocery store to get a phone card to replace the one I'd used up. The first store had no phone cards; the second did, along with a very nice lady who deduced that we were from out of town and said that she hoped we enjoyed our stay in Kenvil. I felt a shiver go down my spine, knoiwng of countless horror movies that began in exactly that way.
We went back to the hotel, where I tried to phone Stormy again, just to reconnect and talk to her, since at that point I knew that God clearly hated me and wanted to talk with her. However, in New Jersey, phone cards require payment of five cents a minute…which I only found out after leaving my change in the motel room. Our first conversation went something like this: "Hi, Mary, I really miss you. We're all okay, but I wish you were here. I love you very much what the hell do you mean I need to put in a nickel? I'm using a phone card! Oh, for @#(^!…" followed by disconnection.
I remember thinking that every god in every pantheon clearly hated my guts.
Eventually I did find enough change and Stormy and I had a long conversation where I told her about the Gathering and we talked some mushy stuff too, interrupted by the constant swatting of mosquitoes and the annoyed grunting of another guy who wanted to use the phone. Once I hung up, I went to the motel room, and Laine, Wingless and I stayed up for hours watching cartoons and laughing like morons at the situation. The bathroom leaked, right over the toilet, and poor Wingless just about killed himself in the shower when he tried to grab onto the curtain rod and it slipped. It was a dive, and we knew it, but at the same time, we couldn't deny it was an adventure. We all thought that whatever was jinxing us might end by midnight, so when we finally turned in, we of cousre stayed awake laughing some more until midnight came. When Wingless checked his glow-in-the-dark alarm clock, the light startled me on the other side of the room and I screamed and almost jumped out of the bed.
We were supposed to have been home by now. Looking back on it I'm glad it happened - we were among friends and we did have a reluctantly good time, and Laine and I are even considering telling the tale in comic form. I just wish that it had been on purpose.


There was a perverse coolness to waking up on Canada Day in the States, though I didn't want to risk it by wishing people a happy Canada Day when I went out for my morning coffee. For all I knew, the jinx wasn't over and I'd run into someone who was mad about Canada's stand on the war in Iraq and decide that yesterday deserved some sort of cap-off to make it even more wonderful. This isn't a comment on Americans, or the war - after a day like Monday, you just don't want to take chances. I was still mildly amazed that we hadn't been hit by an asteroid while we slept. But the jinx did end at midnight - the car was ready and in fine condition by 9:30, and we were soon on the road again, making the aborted trip home and getting out of New Jersey as fast as we possibly could.
And for the most part, the trip home was uneventful that day, almost identical to the way to New York only without getting lost in Scranton. We had lunch near Binghamton and then drove right through to the border, where we were caught in a hellish line. We were wondering if our ease in crossing into the States would be countered by hell getting back into Canada, but that wasn't the case. Apparently, when you enter Canada on Canada day you get a fridge magnet and a pin, both with the Canadian flag on it. Government-sponsored feel-good half-hearted patriotism. Welcome home to Canada. I've never been so happy to cross an arbitrary line in my life. And when we stopped on the 401 and got coffee and donuts from Tim Hortons, well…like I've said, there's nothing like Tim's to remind you that you're actually honest-to-God home. They had Canadian flags everywhere and I got a Canadian maple donut and I sang O Canada on the way back to the car. I'm not usually that obnoxious about it, but Tuesday was already making up for Monday quite nicely, and on our national holiday, besides. Poor Wingless couldn't get what he wanted, though - the iced cappuccino machine was broken. I almost bought him a cookie in honour of the day before, but he settled for something else.
And the rest is straightforward enough - we drove Laine to the bus station and said our farewells, and then I took Wingless home. After I got shanghaied into pizza by his ever-bounteous parents, I went home to Kingston and back to the real world.
I miss the Gathering; I wish time passed there like on Avalon, so that every hour would have the joy and wonder of a full day. But I still had a wonderful time, and I'll be back again next year (nowhere near Kenvil and with no worries of alternators, because damnit, we're taking the train) ready to do it all over again. I can't wait to see everyone again. A la prochaine fois.

Greg responds...

Yeah, but... you had to LIE to your parents about coming to the Gathering?

What? Are we not wholesome enough?

Response recorded on February 11, 2005

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