We arrived in Calgary on Thursday night – ahead of our travel schedule. The group stayed a couple nights with the directors of Two Wheel View, a really excellent charity that teaches bicycle workshops, donates bicycles, and organizes international cycling trips for youth. Rick and Tanya were super inspiring people. Not only are they philanthropic in their community and welcoming to travellers, they also have done some epic bike trips themselves. When their sons were just 4-, 6-, and 8-years old, they took a family cycling trip that had them loop down and around North America for 14 months while homeschooling their children. That’s one amazing early-childhood experience. I’d love to be in contact with them in the future, hopefully as a volunteer with Two Wheel View.
I spent Thursday to Sunday half-way between being a part of the group and returning to “normal” life. Even though I was home I had a hard time separating myself from Ocean2Ocean. Thursday evening I ate dinner at Rick and Tanya’s, then Friday night I slept over there too. I’ve found it really difficult to sleep alone in a proper bed with so much space around me. I’ve grown so accustomed to being wedged into a smelly, noisy mass of at least six thermarest-ing cyclists, all cuddling to keep warm. It’s Monday now, and I still haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep.
On Saturday afternoon we volunteered at The AREA here in Inglewood. It’s a place I’ve felt quite connected to for the last six or seven months. I first became aware of its coolness when Locomotive Ghost played at their Harvest Festival in the fall. Since then, I’ve volunteered from time to time, helping David Winkler with a variety of labour work on the property, as well as doing sound for concerts. In April I held my Ocean2Ocean benefit there as well, so it felt appropriate to bring the group and give back in some way. While we helped out with digging another swale for their permaculture gardens, David explained about some of the plans he and his wife have for the space. I am so inspired to see that this city with its lonely-soul, money-focused reputation can support a community space that is built firmly upon collaborative planning, open-mindedness, and volunteer efforts. The AREA has a great many exciting projects in the works, from urban agriculture to paint fights to tattoo fundraisers. They’re currently in the running as a non-profit organization for a Fuelling Change grant through Shell Canada. Please sign up and vote for them.
Saturday evening I organized a casual house concert/potluck for the group and some of our friends. Locomotive Ghost entertained our guests for a a good while, and fumbled joyously through our unpracticed arrangements. I’ve never felt so welcome or so comfortable on stage. I even forgot my spoken word part in “One Night Left” – something that is a constant terror of mine – and got over the anxiety right away. I then performed a solo ukulele number on “stage”, which I’ve never done before. Every effort felt safe and rewarded. The party continued late into the night, and we celebrated whole-heartedly before settling into tents, beds, and couches. I was so glad to share music with my Ocean2Ocean friends and host them for a night in my home.
For me, the trip is now over.
Ocean2Ocean has moved on and I’m still here. I miss them already. Between this experience and Katimavik (and there isn’t all that much distinction), I have gained more good friends than in the rest of my life put together. These people motivate me to do things, and they make me feel so thoroughly appreciated. There are many exciting opportunities unfolding in front of now that I’m back in Calgary. I have a great deal to consider with work, school, music, sound engineering, poetry, sustainable lifestyle choices, family, travels, new friends, and volunteer opportunities. It feels like all of these things are calling me at once. The challenge now is to bring the same passionate O2O energy as I am faced with active choices and unknown pathways.
I can’t tell whether to grieve or buckle down to work. I feel like an author trying to conclude an epic novel, and I now appreciate how hard that must be. I get to take the easy way out though. I know this life-defining thrill will have a sequel.