I can't ever pass by the Terry Fox memorial without stopping. That's just wrong. How could you call yourself a Canadian in good conscience if you do that?! It's simple... You can't!!
The last time I was here was when I was hitchhiking in the dark in late October in 1995 on my trip to move west. I came up here to go to an amethyst mine to try to find a kind fatty for Amy...my girlfriend at the time, from Madison, Wisconsin...Grateful Dead Tour Family.
It was a disastrous trip. I called the mine two or three times, and they assured me everything was cool. I took an 18 hour bus ride up here from Toronto, only to have them tell me that they had been closed for weeks!
"But I just phoned you guys two days ago?!"
It was a brutal journey from start to finish, and was the reason why I rolled into Vancouver with $20 and a backpack after 90+ hours on buses and hitchhiking, rather than fly quick and have fat cash in my pocket.
If not for them, who the hell knows...
I owe them a lot.
Learned the biggest lesson of my life though...
"Listen to my gut!"
Back to this area, from that trip, I came here in the dark after I had hitchhiked from Thunder Bay to come see my man, Terry! After I spent some time here, I started hitchhiking again toward a different mine that they said they'd let me in, but that it was covered in snow.
"Couldda used that information days ago before I left!"
I was here, so what the hell?! Might as well give 'er a go...
That didn't end well, so I bailed and found a place to sleep in the bush off of the highway for the night, so I could just hitchhike back to town in the morning, and then go see my friend, Jeffrey, who was living in Thunder Bay for school.
When I got myself sorted, it started raining. I had a sleeping bag, and a tarp, but no tent, so I wrapped myself up in the tarp like a burrito. That didn't go too well either, not because I was wet, but rather because I just couldn't get comfortable or sleep, so I said to myself...
"Fuck this, I'm out!"
I packed up my stuff, and even though it was pitch black, raining, and I was near 50km out of town, I went to the side of the highway and started hitchin' back. Surprisingly, it didn't take too long to get a ride.
When I walked up to the car to open the door, that's when I noticed police OPP patches on the shoulders of the people in the car...
Yes, I got picked up by the police hitchhiking in the dark and rain.
The guy in the passenger seat seemed kinda grouchy, but got out, let me in the back of the cruiser, and put my back pack in the trunk. I was a tad nervous when I was loaded in the back and he had my pack because I had some weed and hash on me. It made for a tripped out experience of a ride back to Thunder Bay.
The passenger guy was silent the whole time, but the lady driving was super nice. She said the reason they picked me up is so I wouldn't get run over by a truck speeding along.
I thanked 'em for that.
They dropped me off at a 7-11 that had a bunch of people out front, who I then became the spectacle for.
It was pouring rain, I had nowhere to go, and it was like 1:00am in the morning, so I felt it would be shitty to roll up on Jeffrey at that time of night, and a day or two earlier than I had said I'd be coming there.
The whole journey was nuts, and involved more police in Thunder Bay, and in Chicago, but I'll write about that another time...don't worry, nothing sinister, nor jailing, just repetitive interactions that seemed to keep following me around. (I just told a friend about that today, and it made her laugh quite a bit.)
Anyway, back to my main man...
Terry Mutherfuckin' Fox!!
I was a six year old kid when he tried to crush down Canada on one leg. One of the things I loved about him the most, his tenacity and perseverance for sure, but was his in your face attitude to the assholes trying to come down on him and say shit like he wasn't trying. I believe there was at least one speech somewhere, a CFL game, or in Toronto, where he called them out in front of the crowd to say it to his face.
"That's my kind of guy!"
He's the simple guy who became the larger than life character we needed then, and perhaps, need more than ever right now.
Terry epitomized hope. That was the name of his run...
The marathon of hope.
He was so much more than that to me though.
Endlessly inspiring for sure, but...
Tenacious and ferocious in the face of his own mortality. The modern day internet warrior types have no clue what the real shit is all about when you look at what he did, and the way he went about it, against the odds that he faced. An actual warrior...
A true warrior!
I have drawn upon Terry Fox in literally every triathlon I have ever done. When my body is screaming at me in pain, and doing everything it can to stop me, I dig in with a picture of him in my mind, the same as I did with Michelle when I drew upon my love for her that saved my life a month ago when I was facing my maker out in that deep dark cold lake.
I'm taking pause for a quick moment to look at the above paragraph I just wrote, and I see Michelle's name mentioned alongside Terry Fox, and it feels right to me. They both hold that same kind of power, just in much different ways, but of equal importance. Two of the same who have only ever pulled the very best out of me.
Titans of inspiration!
More and more, I am feeling ready to conquer the impossible path that has been unfolding in front of me for Michelle. It's time to be the hero of my own story and honour the underlying reason within that.
I'm ready for this! It's that simple... I'm ready!
It was kinda funny when we first rolled outta the van at the memorial. The lady was all over us about Fennario having to be leashed. She was super nice about it, but totally on it. As I had thrown my stuff in my van to leave, and couldn't even find my toothbrush for the first day, I didn't know where her leash and collar were. I've had dogs for just about 20 years, and they don't wear collars of need a leash. I do this thing called, 'training.' I see the collar/leash thing as quite demeaning, and can't stand them. Fennario is good in the bush when we get charged by bears, just the same as she is good to walk down the sidewalk and cross streets in town without a collar or leash...training. It was a bummer, but I wasn't leaving without seeing Terry, so I had to figure something out. All I could come up with was the extension cord I had out from charging my camera on my inverter. "Fuck it...we're rollin' ghetto!"
Fennario didn't care, and neither did I. The irony of finding a leash and collar demeaning, and here I was with her tied up with an extension cord around her neck, was not lost upon me. (Giggle.)
When we left there, we drove for awhile until we found a good spot to watch the sunset. I wanted to be right at the water, but despite so much water, that was actually quite tough to do. I found a good spot for it where we weren't disturbed, so that was nice.
Michelle painted a most brilliant sky for me as I wept while talking to her. I decided I needed to do the Terry Fox Run for her in a few days, and signed up while standing right there in tears watching the sky she was handing me from the heavens. I felt it the right thing to do, and the right way to go about it as well. I hadn't run in two years, but that was OK because Michelle is pure strength for me, so it didn't matter.
I can see you Michelle...
The contrasting thought though, is that when I think of the strength she gives me, it just makes me miss her more, and crumples me inside. My polarized emotions within her are quite fascinating. She just doesn't stop being amazing to my life...
But my heart still hurts without Michelle here...