The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nowhere to Hide

by Tricia Dower

On Monday, October 6th, we left the States where a surreal presidential campaign and a financial market free fall have left many Americans angry, afraid and confused. Despite the Gestapo-like announcement that the washrooms would be locked and we were to remain in our seats as Customs and Immigration officials boarded the train, I was relieved to arrive at the Canadian border at Niagara Falls that evening. For a moment an irrational fear that I wouldn’t be allowed back in gripped me but, an hour and a half later, the train with me on it was cleared for the trip into Toronto. As we sped past vineyards, Stelco’s belching stacks, and the Burlington Skyway, I thought: ah, home, where the banks are solid and the politics dull.

How stunning to find the Canadian financial markets in a tailspin, Liberal supporters in Toronto threatened by slashed brake lines, and support for the Conservatives disappearing as quickly as everyone’s retirement savings. What happened in the US had spread while we enjoyed a news blackout on the train. I find it blackly humourous that Harper called an election he didn’t need to at this momentous time. I’m now looking forward to October 14th almost as much as I am to November 4th. As the ancient curse goes, ‘May you live in interesting times.’

I’m writing from the library in Wellington, Ontario, a short walk from a B&B where we booked the least expensive room for a week but, due to fortuitous circumstances, were “bumped” into one with a huge Jacuzzi tub and a four-poster you need a stepladder to climb into. Unexpected luxury on the cusp of a possible depression. A special reward after a night in a New York City “budget boutique” hotel where Colin felt compelled to check the sheets for bugs.

I wonder if this trip will be the last before a sustained period of belt-tightening frugality. I’m storing up good memories just in case: reading from Silent Girl and attending a high school reunion in my old home town; watching New Yorkers dance on roller skates in Central Park; napping to the sound of waves on Lake Ontario. It’s all good, now that so much else is all bad.

Photos: (1) Silent Girl’s US launch in the lobby of the old movie theatre in Rahway, NJ, that was built in 1929. The theatre has been turned into the Union County Performing Arts Center and renovated to look almost exactly as it did when I was a kid. I’m standing in front of what used to be the candy concession. (2) Reading (and signing) with me was talented poet and fellow Rahway High School grad Andrea Hollander Budy. Check out her website. (3) Leaving Rahway for the 25-minute train ride into New York City.


Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Remember when 'conservative' meant 'good with money'? Or at least 'fiscally responsible'? This new lot are so blinded by ideology they don't think practically at all. Old-school conservatives should vote liberal if they want the economy back on track. Welcome home Tricia!

Sun Oct 12, 06:44:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Thanks, Andrew! It's good to be home.

Sun Oct 12, 09:51:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Great to have you back. That B&B sounds like it was magical. Who knows, the way things are going south of the border, I just might have to return to the motherland...

Wed Oct 15, 03:43:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Andrea Hollander Budy said...

Thanks, Tricia, for inviting me to read with you in Rahway, New Jersey, where I too graduated from high school. You moved to Canada, and I moved to Mountain View, Arkansas, which, while it's in the United States, feels like another country compared with Rahway.

Sat Nov 29, 02:25:00 pm GMT-5  

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