Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Eleven questions from a former friend

My friend moved away. But she's not willing to just let our thing drop. So she’s asked eleven questions ‘to get to know me better’. Okay, AJ. Thank-you. Here you go:

1. Describe your transition from secondary school to post secondary school.

Accidental. It was midway through July, 1989 when I realized Grade 13 (an Ontario thing at the time) was optional. I was smoking tea rolled in Bible paper on a clandestine deck in the woods at the summer camp where I was working, and it was raining. I had an important lifeguard for a girlfriend at the time so I couldn’t give the decision much more than a couple hours attention. The ink ran on the paper but I mailed that college application the next day. In retrospect I don’t regret much about that summer but a little more thought about my choice of college might’ve served me better.

2. Where is one place you’ve been that you would tell others is “forgettable”?


3. Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why was that teacher so great?

Easiest question of the lot: Mrs. Walker, my Grade Three matriarch. Of all the forks in my road, the one she patrolled was almost certainly the most crucial.

4. Favorite Canadian band?

At the moment it’s Corb Lund and the Hurtin’ Albertans.

5. What kinds of books do you read just for the heck of it?

Robert Frost, Czesław Miłosz, Walt Whitman, Joseph Brodsky – their Collected Poems.

6. If there was just one thing that you wish you could be a little better at, what would it be?

I’ve had a persistent prayer since I was maybe 18 based on a recurring theme in the Psalms; it’s about the way wisdom and humility only travel together. I don’t know why it first occurred to me to offer it, or why it keeps popping-up, but the request comes from somewhere either deep inside me or, more likely, from somewhere or someone beyond me. I’m pretty sure it’s true: I could be better at both.

7. What do you wish you knew when you were 16 that you know for sure now?

Here’s a bit from Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry:

“You have been given questions to which you cannot be given answers. You will have to live them out – perhaps a little at a time."

“And how long is that going to take?”

“I don’t know. As long as you live, perhaps.”

“That could be a long time.”

“I will tell you a further mystery,” he said. “It may take longer.”

8. How do you think you have the greatest influence in your work?

Probably in ways nearly opposite to what would be the most obvious answer to this question. Maybe it’s in whatever happens when I share a sandwich with my abrupt but gentle Ucwalmicwts tutor, or in that few seconds at my two o’clock appointment when I could’ve said something but didn’t, and just listened instead.

9. Describe what retirement will look like for you.

I expect Melanie and I will finally be finished with our adolescent jostling of wills and come again to naïve joy, holding hands.

10. You have a meeting with an important person to talk about an important thing. Who is that person and what are you going to talk about.

My guess is it’ll be with one of my parents about the recent or imminent death of the other. In a way I’ve been preparing for that conversation for years, but I won’t be ready for it.

11. What eating establishment do I need to go to if money, distance, and time were of no concern.

Buy a slab of Chinook salmon off the docks in Tofino and cook it in butter over a camp stove in Long Beach mist.