Knowing my name is about as useful as a vibrator without batteries. I’ll spare you the disappointment and move on instead. My parents were teenage lovers growing up in the late sixties. It was all they could do but to catch only the fringes of social upheaval brought about by their peers in more meaningful parts of the world on campuses and in city parks and large fields off big urban centers. The place they lived aspired to reach the 5,000 mark one day in order to call itself a city officially, although the population seemed divided as to whether they wanted the extra attention or not. High School meant driving to a neighboring city – that was actually a city – in order to attend the region’s only high school.
My father grew up poor but he didn’t know it. Big house, father owned a garage, he worked, and he had a car to drive around carefree in his teens. My mother, on the other hand grew up knowing it, living in a stone house with no electricity, no running water, and the bathroom was outside somewhere. But the view was good. I know this to be true as later as an adult I traveled back to my roots and drove up that road to the top of the valley and stared at the stone house that still stood there overlooking the valley. Great view indeed. I wouldn’t be surprised if a condo development is there now.
High school sweethearts they were. In typical fashion my dad would pick up ‘his girl’ and they would cruise around, my mom being his arm candy and he would act all macho with his thick rimmed glasses and a desperate 70’s mustache trying to overcome puberty. The story of their engagement begins with the two of them driving around when one of my dad’s friends comes up to the car and says congratulations to my mom. This is how she found out that she was engaged. It wasn’t that this was an arranged agreement between families or any other cultural formalities. It was simply foreshadowing to the rhythm of communication that would under gird their marriage for the next several decades.
Their graduation came and with my mom looking to escape her simple living and my father wanting to do the same – but perhaps there was a bit of ‘fuck you mom and dad I am going to be with this woman I love despite what you say or do’ type of thing going on as well – they both took off through the mountains to the start of the prairie provinces. Not only was their plan to have a couple mountain ranges between them and family but they went north where for sure the weather would serve as a meaningful barrier as well.
My father would share that his best friend during the time they were in that big city in the north would be his sledge hammer for inevitably his car would cease up in the middle of an intersection, which would be his cue to pop the hood and give a few wacks to the starter in order to get the car going again.
It was there that they found solace above a butcher shop. It was in that butcher shop that he began his career, and it was in that city that they decided to spend a lunch hour down at City Hall making their life decisions a bit more formal. They waited to be called Mr. and Mrs. until the same day as his mom’s birthday, just to stick it to his parents even more, but that day fell on a Sunday so they needed to wait until Monday. Close enough I guess they thought.
It was also there that I was conceived. I don’t know if they actually thought it through or if it was the romance of the situation that overwhelmed them both. The noise and various romantic sounds that would come up through the floor boards, not to mention the various aromas found in a butcher’s shop, the bitter cold that met them every time they went outside, and would eventually drive them away from that big city in the north and back home to the simple valley in the warmer climate of a coastal province.
And so they left their love nest in the north and with me beginning my journey into this world they traveled back to their familiar haunts. Here they settled down, closer to the neighboring city that could actually be called a city, where my father found work in an abattoir, because what could be more romantic then what they had in the big city in the north?