Friday, October 23, 2009

Odd moments of suburban transcendence, more stress dreams

So I missed my train one day this week. I had been trying to catch the 7:14 West Coast Express, and was obliged instead to wait until 7:44 - the last train and the one I need to be on to make it to work by 9. Since I had time to kill, I decided to go down to the Port Haney Wharf, a large concrete structure that juts out into the Fraser River, dotted with benches for sightseers, with a little wooden walkway that leads down to the water where it floats. I don't know if the wharf existed in its current state when I was a kid; I remember going down onto the log booms, where I would sit with friends or alone - the walkway certainly wasn't there. The river used to be a site of great comfort to me, its tranquil indifference to the noise and mess and falsity of the world helping me to calm myself and somehow transcend my own unhappiness: it was soothing, that the river didn't care, and would continue to flow on even if there were no people at all. Other memories: jumping from log to log with friends, eating take out pizza on the logs, watching a hot air balloon land on the far bank, watching seagulls standing on sheets of ice floating by turning to inspect me as they passed. There is a forested clearing nearby where I first kissed one girl I liked - she's a boy, these days, matter of fact - and later went to sit out overnight and "meditate," sort of - visited at one point by a small snuffling mammal that walked across the clearing behind me, a vague shape, unconcerned by my presence. I've seen lots of beavers in the area, even spying on one as it stripped bark off twigs, squatting on the bank of the river. Once, too, when the oolichen (or ooligan or candlefish or such) were running - sleek little fish that come through the river in numbers - I remember, with high school buddies, reaching down from a log boom and scooping one up with my bare hands. Though I've caught the train at Port Haney station many times in the last few years, I haven't visited the wharf once - maybe not since before I was in Japan. (I had an interesting sexual encounter with another friend on a dock off the Fraser during a visit home, mind you - but that's another story altogether).

The other morning, anyhow, I ended up on this walkway, at first thinking I'd find it a grim trip. The river smells not-so-good and on the way down, before you get to the water, you see the muddy banks, the uprooted trees, the logging debris and litter... you smell the creosote or whatever it is they coat the wood with to protect it... The water is brown and muddy and uninviting, too, tho' I gather the Fraser just "is" that way; it's always been a muddy river. Once I got down to water-level, though, it was surprisingly alive. There were big spiderweb-shaped spiderwebs hanging heavy with dew from the wharf, glistening in the misty light. Small (and some not-s0-small) fish were jumping, breaking surface and flipping, briefly visible before the splash - perhaps the same oolichen I once caught by hand. There were car headlights glowing ghostly in the fog on the far bank, and the general blurry greyness was appealing, soft-edged and ethereal. The sound of the water lapping on the wood, the cleanness of the cold morning air in my nostrils, the gentle rocking of the walkway... it was all very appealing. The big dead fish plopped on a logboom nearby was interesting, too, reminding me of the salmon runs I used to see all the time in my youth.

Then I saw something strange: a large brown shape in the water, heading against the current. At first, I rationalized that it must be an animal, to be going upstream - something propelling itself on its own. It was very clearly and consistently moving from the right to the left, west to east, against what I've long known to be the direction of the river. Surely a log wouldn't do that, even if there were a bit of wind on the water? Based on the shape, I guessed it was a large dog, so I made a bit of noise - a clap, a whistle - to see if I could get it to look around. Nope: and as it passed a bit closer, I did see that it was a chunk of wood or a log after all, and that, indeed - along with various other bits of debris - it was floating the wrong way up the river. So that's one I don't understand: the river can't have changed direction; Maple Ridge is surely too far from the Pacific for some tidal backwash to apply, and there is no way that my memory of the direction of the river is faulty - it MUST flow TOWARDS the ocean, not inland.

That one confusing detail aside, it's nice to have moments of peace like that. I'm not getting them at night. I keep waking up to pee, which doesn't seem to relate to my apnea, since I'm breathing okay with my CPAP; maybe this is the onset of diabetes or something? And my dreams are troubling - violent, ugly things. I had a dream a little while ago where I'd infiltrated some compound run by a religious cult or something, and was in danger of being caught out, so I had to kill one of the members with my bare hands. It was very unsettling - I'll spare y'all the grim details - and woke me up. Which is why, at 5AM, with an hour or so left for me to sleep, I'm sitting at the computer, writing this.

...But I should go back to my air mattress (I'll pee first) and see if there's another hour's rest open to me...

1 comment:

Mr. Beer N. Hockey said...

The Fraser is tidal up to Mission I believe. There's times the river is lifeless as a suburban nightmare.