Thursday, Jun. 22, 2023 @ 4:56 pm
On Sunday afternoon, Father’s Day, we ride together over to the North Shore.
As we leave the park and ride across the bridge, there is a strange feeling of exposure, of bringing two of my worlds together. Going with Shawn to my hometown, to cycle together side by side along the same routes as I did as a teenager. Going with him into the forest where I grew up, a tender place that for me feels private. It’s like an opening up for me, to share this untamed and intimate space with him.
We cycle past the curb where I fell and scraped up my face. Past the cheap apartment above the car wash where I smoked weed with Darcy. Past the piece of shoreline where we’d go to drink after having climbed between the train cars to get across the railway tracks. Past the four way stop where I received a demerit on my driver’s test. Past the grocery store where I worked my first job. Past the stable where I leased my first horse, where I also had my second concussion after being thrown from my horse into the wall of the arena.
I tell him bits of each story until I feel as though I’ve said too much. What of this matters now?
We ride our bikes up the side of the mountain through the forest, up so much elevation that the air cools and goosebumps rise up on my bare arms when we rest. The forest is quiet as most people are at home barbecuing with their fathers.
Hours pass and our bodies begin to tire. On our last climb we are both suffering and become quiet. Neither him nor I complain. We finally reach the top and ease off our bikes to take a break before our long descent home. Before I can overthink my decision, I head towards a large hemlock and announce, “I’m going to pee behind this tree.”
He thankfully seems nonplussed with my wildness.
We ride recklessly down the trails, around rock armoured corners, over whimsical wooden structures, laughing and pushing each other, eventually bursting out of the woods into suburbia flushed and out of breath.
We spin across the city to the beach, and once arrived I take off my shoes and wade into the glassy ocean. The cold water a balm on my aching feet and calves.
“I don’t know whether to high five or hug you,” he says as we bask together in the warm late evening sun.
I let his question hang in space unanswered.
This is it, right? This is the question underlying the hours that we spend together, the defining question of our relationship.
What exactly are we?