Writing builds character. Or is it the other way around? The sad thing is that too many characters are caricatures that fulfil an odd addiction of an audience to do as predicted, to make everyone satisfied in knowing what is done next.
The core of real character is outside the details and patterns we project. Characters are inconsistent. They must be. They must be what is not expected. (And then not.) That is how we behave, what we need to understand our traumatized self.
As predictable as we might think people are, we aren’t. And if we are, that is death. A character needs to be nebulous. It is in that that a story spirals light.
The Young Chronicles details my 1983 hitchhiking trip across Canada. Having completed the Toronto-Newfoundland leg, I continue west into Ontario.
June 26, 1983 Mileage 226 miles
Ride One: Metis Beach to Levi, PQ. Beige Subaru with a dashboard like a cockpit. Jane (forceful, elitist), Daphne (said little) and their dog Rocky (stunk of sea water).
Walked a few kilometers and took ferry into Quebec City. Sat on the boardwalk and watched a juggler get all of the attention while the flautist was ignored.
June 27, 1983 Mileage 268 miles
Ride One: Quebec City to Pont du Quebec (just across the damn bridge). Blue Rabbit.
Ride Two: Pont du Quebec to St. Georges. Beige Subaru (same as Jane’s). French anesthetist. Colt cigarettes, moose hunter. “The separation meant nothing.”
Ride Three: St. Georges to East Montreal. Brown Honda. Young Quebecois.
Ride Four: East Montreal to West Montreal. White Fury. Wore sunglasses, was stopped for speeding and played “Judge’s Card”. Gave me a pack of smokes. “We’re on this earth to help each other, man.” Gave me a soul shake.
Ride Five: East Montreal to Hawkesbury. Brown Rabbit. Old guy with sideburns and woman. Misdirected them so that I could get closer to Ottawa. (They were going to Lachute.)
Ride Six: Hawkesbury to Ottawa, Ontario. Fancy sports car. French guy with bushy mustache. Smoked a spliff. “All right, all right.”
Stayed with Tara (friend from Queen’s University) and George.
June 29, 1983 Mileage 268 miles
Ride One: Ottawa to Carleton Place Turnoff. White Cadillac with digital read-outs. Clean-shaven, curly haired guy. Took scenic route along the river. From a small German village.
Ride Two: Carleton Place Turnoff to Pembroke. Dark red Rabbit. Liked The Who, The Dead and David Bowie, but not a fan of “peace and love shit”. Owns a VCR and apartment.
Stayed two night with Rene Zwiegle (friend from 1982 Europe Bike Trip) and her family. Her mother (Japanese) taught in Africa and broke her family ties temporarily to marry Rene who is German. He encouraged Rene and I to go on ‘midnight walks’. Mouse turd on my desk.
July 1, 1983 Mileage 181 miles
Waited for 3 1/2 hours.
Ride One: Pembroke to North Bay. Grey sports car. Guy in his 50s who had just retired and had worked on the Trans Canada Pipeline. Daughter going to Western University.
Ride Two: North Bay to Ahmic Habour. Brown Rabbit. Tanned guy with mustache, very well travelled because of his work in telecommunications. Constantly talked about all of “the twats he had snatched.” Hung around while I waited for my father to pick me up in the boat.
July 3, Ride Three: Parry Sound to Sudbury (Brown VW Rabbit) Driver was moving to Portland to study herbal medicine.
July 4, Ride One: Sault Saint Marie to Wawa (Custom Chevy Van) Driver wore fancy track pants. Loved the country and understand “its power”.
I waited in Wawa for three hours and considered the graffiti underneath the giant goose. Wawa sucks! Fuck Wawa! Jerky Fuckwell, I Slept Here.
Ride Two: Wawa to Thunder Bay (Silver VW Rabbit) Alison and Jane Wright. Got stoned with them. “Electric knives are fine but freedom is incredible. God, I’m happy to be alive.”
Climbed on top of a train in Thunder Bay depot to take a picture; almost fell off when it began to move.
July 6, Ride Three: Terry Fox Monument to Sunshine (Brown VW Rabbit) “You have to like sitting at the side of the road.”
July 7: Ride One: Sunshine to Winnipeg (Blue Colt, pictured below) Dave and his nephew Sean, Indians from Winnipeg. Dave enjoys the silence of the forest, forest fire trivia and is obsessed with sex. Lots of “Bloody Red Baron Beaver” jokes. Had dinner at their house – salad, chicken, baked potatoes and beer; wife joked that I had dinner with Indians and wasn’t eaten.
June 27, Ride Two: Pont du Quebec to St. Georges (Beige Subaru) Driver was an anesthesiologist: “The separatist movement meant nothing.”
Ride Three: St. Georges to outside Montreal (White Fury) Driver got stopped for speeding, used ‘judge’s card’ to get off. Gave me a pack of Matinee cigarettes. “We’re all on this earth together, man.” Stayed in Ottawa and wrote on “the silken void” and “First Impression Syndrome”.
June 29, Ride One: Ottawa to Carleton Place Turnoff (Cadillac) Took me on scenic route to see Ottawa River shoreline.
Ride Two: Carleton Place Turnoff to Pembroke (Dark red Rabbit) Saw space shuttle over apartment building, not too thrilled with “peace and love crap”.
July 1, Ride One: Pembroke to North Bay (Grey sports car) Driver had worked on the Trans Canada Pipeline.
Ride Two: North Bay to Ahmic Harbour (Brown VW Rabbit) Driver was well traveled across Canada; constant barrage on how many “twats he’d snatched”. Stayed at Ahmic Lake for two days at my family’s cottage.