Friday, January 05, 2007

Flashback Friday: Fire at Hunter and Water

The Flashback Friday: Feminist Edition will feature a story that has something to do with being or becoming a woman or feminist. This series will continue until I run out of stories. I love having guest bloggers. If you have a story you want to tell and you want to be a guest blogger here, please email me; or feel free to link to your own story in the comments. Thanks to Sunshine Scribe for the Flashback Friday idea.

One day in first year, I went to visit my friend at Trent in Peterborough. I borrowed my parents' car and drove. I think it was in January during Christmas break; I don't know but it was really fuckin' cold. We debated whether to drive downtown from her room in residence and leave it there overnight, or leave it at the rez and take a bus. I don't know why exactly, but we decided to drive downtown and come back and get the car the next day. Thank goodness.

We went to the Trasheteria, an 'alternative' dance bar. We drank and danced and laughed. I noticed a guy exhibiting all the traits I admired in a guy at a bar. He danced well but with a clear sense of humour and a hint of self-mockery, he was good-looking, and most irresistible of all: he was apparently attracted to me. I was still a virgin, but I did occasionally enjoy leaving bars with guys I'd just met.

One time, while I staying with my parents, my friend and I met two very cute if totally alcoholic roommates while at a bar in the Shwa (Oshawa: Armpit of Ontario). I phoned my parents and told them I was staying at my friend's place, but I got totally busted the next day when we couldn't get anyone to come pick us up and I had to work or something. I remember my mom told me to look up the word slut in the dictionary because I might qualify. I protested that I was still a virgin, but she said that a slut is as much about appearances as about anything that actually goes on. Whatever. (Do I need to spell out that I really hate the s-word and the way it's gendered? Frankly, I don't even like the concept. If someone chooses to be promiscuous, I don't see what business it is of anyone else's.) Later that day, I asked my mother if she had ever enjoyed a casual sexual encounter. "No!" she replied with horror. "Well," I said, surely with a mischievious glint in my eye, "Don't knock it till you've tried it." I loved shocking people, especially my mother.

Anyways, back to the guy in Peterborough. My friend went back to rez and I went off with this guy, who said we could go to his friend's place. I should have noticed that he looked a bit cagey about why we couldn't go back to his place, but I didn't. So we hung out in his friend's living room, and we weren't there for very long when the phone rang, and the caller was looking for the guy I was with. When he hung up, he said he had to leave; he had to go home. Apparently, it was his girlfriend on the phone! A girlfriend he lived with!!

He said I could still spend the night at his friend's place, but I didn't feel comfortable with that, so I left with him. I guess I was walking to where my car was, and he was walking home, so we walked together for a bit. I was still in shock. I really couldn't believe this was happening. And then we saw the fire. A building, at least four or five storeys tall, was on fire on the corner of Hunter and Water. There were fire trucks all around, and water running down the street. It was really really cold, but I could feel the heat of the inferno on my face.

The guy called his girlfriend from a payphone, and told her there was a fire and he'd be home soon. Apparently there were a lot of fires around Peterborough then. An arsonist was suspected. That guy pushed off, and I was left standing, breathing in the icy air and scratchy smoke, cheeks hot. I couldn't believe what a total shit that guy was. I felt like the fire represented my loss of innocence, my faith in humanity flying away with the smoke. I was almost surprised that no one was screaming from the burning windows, but thankfully it seemed that anyone in the building had made it to safety. I watched the fire a little longer, the way the flames shimmied and moved, watched the irony of a firefighter stopping for a smoke break, listened to the roar of the flames (I had no idea that fires were so loud!) and tried to think what to do.

(I know. I was terribly naive, although I find it sweet that this incident, which was really not so bad at all, was my loss of innocence.)

By this time it was probably 3 a.m., and I hadn't drunk that much, so eventually I figured that I would drive my car back to my friend's residence. I phoned my friend, and finally she answered, and she told me how to get back to her dorm room. It was so lucky that I had driven my car downtown, because otherwise I wouldn't have known where to get a cab (if I could even get one at that hour) and I would have had no idea how to get back to the rez on foot.

The building was completely destroyed by the fire, and the next summer there was a brand new parking lot in its place, smooth and barren. I searched the area and the wall of the building that used to be adjacent to the one that burned for some leftover soot, some tiny mark of charcoal, any kind of evidence of what for me was momentous, but there was nothing, no sign.


Mad Hatter said...

Wow. Great writing here, Sin. I have one of those "didn't know I was being casual with a two-timing asshole" stories in my past too. There was a similar symbolic event to that evening that represented my loss of innocence.

And you know, it is taking all my energy NOT to quote Joni Mitchell right not.

Beck said...

I think that many people have a time where their experimenting with casual sexuality comes to a sudden, horrified stop.

Mad Hatter said...

Me again. I am hijacking your comment space (sorry) to let Mimi and Alpha Dogma know that I have been trying to comment on their blogs over the last few days but word verification has been screwing up--e.g. i can't see the word that needs to be verified ever. I took down word verification on my own site for this very reason.

I am saying this here b/c I know they both read your blog regularly but I'm not entirely sure the same is true for my blog.

Thanks for the space.

cinnamon gurl said...

Mad, what's wrong with quoting Joni Mitchell? (I'm actually not all that familiar with her work, so feel free to quote away...)

Beck, sadly that wasn't even the sudden, horrified stop... that came later. But I think you're right.

Mad again, hijack my comments anytime... I love comments! (Even if they're purely administrative and aimed at other bloggers.)

I hate word verification. I never get it right the first time, despite squinting and pondering for several minutes before committing myself. So far I've never used it, and haven't gotten spam yet...