Wednesday, Feb. 01, 2017 @ 5:25 pm
I watch the props start to turn, slowly at first, and then rapidly until the blades disappear. The roar from the engine obscures all other sound. The frequency deafens me - even the high pitch whines from the crying puppy blur into the loud silence.
The city below. Ball diamonds ablaze. The roads arteries lit up amber and flowing steadily with strings of dazzling beads - either white or red, depending on the road orientation to the city core.
When the pilot announces to prepare for landing, I turn to the man beside me. He's about my age. I've been dying to talk to him. His mussed up hair tinged with grey. His casual clothes. His thick black earrings. I stole a glance at his iPhone, and my heart lurched to see that he was listening to a CBC podcast. But I read my book steadily for the first 30 minutes of the flight. Finally, I muster the courage to break the silence. He immediately responds. It's so easy; he too wants to talk. In a two minute conversation, we discover how our paths have crossed many times throughout the province, living in Prince George, on the Island, and then finally until we sit beside each other on this plane.
I deplane onto the runway. Long wool coat in hand - I'm out of practice with this. A dry cold wind, smell of pulp mill. Minus ten or so. I struggle to pull on my jacket while juggling my book, carry on, and handbag.
In the airport, I watch as he falls into the arms of his father. His mother standing proudly to the side. The raw, honest love of family, in airports. The adult son, a man, greying hair, yet always a son.
I sit in the airport hotel shuttle. A man in the front seat. I talk to him right away to stem off awkwardness. Again, the strings of connection. He lives in Prince George. We talk about his job for the provincial government, something to do with fish and pulpmill effluent; I tell him about the project that I'm working on here, something to do with a water system and a First Nations community.
I check into the hotel. Riding the elevator to the third floor with a woman impeccably dressed in a suit dress, perfect hair, perfectly a size 2, balancing a full glass of red wine. Lurching a little on her heels. Slurring her words a bit, "This is how I roll," she quips.
After settling into my room, I pull on my toque and head out. I wander the deserted downtown streets. Piles of sand and ice at the corners of parking lots. I talk with the cashier at the grocery store for ten minutes. I jaywalk across an empty five lane road. Women lean against the side of a brick wall at the rear of the pub, drawing long breaths on their cigarettes.
I stay up too late, watching cable TV and drinking tea and eating chocolate. Polishing my nails army green to match my blouse.
I dream of Liam. I dream that I press myself into him, fully clothed, the way we did more than a decade ago after long nights of drinking. The perfect bliss of warm bodies together. In my dream, he moves in a way to allow more of our bodies to touch. It's the most perfect feeling, of being accepted, of being wanted, of being cared for.
I wake up to brilliant sun. Everything washed out browns, whites, pale blues.
This province is my Liam. I press myself into it, into all of the tiny nooks and crannies, and with each little nudge I find myself falling more and more in love.