Thursday, October 14, 2004

ode to Claire

The indomitable Claire is here! Hurray, hurray!

Some history: Claire Louise Crimp, my best friend, and I grew up together on Cape Breton Island. We met when I was three; apparently I said, "I love everybody!" and she said, "Even Willy*?" and I said, "Even Willy!" Thus, she assumed I was a right happy person, and decided to be my friend.

We've had a few rough patches (doesn't any friendship?) but overall I would say Claire is one of those few people who know me better than I know myself. We played Barbies at 8, commisserated about jerks/boys at age 12, rode Colin's legendary school bus to the Northside at 15, and shared travel stories at 18. Claire taught me to snowboard, sing loud, and appreciate the finer points of life. (Those would be numerous, mostly gustatory, pleasures, such as 'banana dessert', a confection so simple and yet so profound that it leaves people thinking about it for months afterward.)

This past summer, Claire and I were both lucky enough to have jobs in the same place: North River. Basically, we returned home for summer jobs, me predictably and she unexpectedly. She worked at North River Kayak; I at the pottery shop. And now Claire's job is finished and she is cycling--yes, cycling--from Cape Breton Island to Montreal. In the words of Claire, "This trip has become a silent scream for women everywhere..." Everyone's reaction has been: "A woman? Alone?" And Claire feels (and I think she's mostly right in this) that she's at no greater risk than any guy doing this. You can get raped in your home street, you can get attacked anywhere. If you're careful, you can get along fine, even thrive, as Claire is doing, on the open road.

I picked her up from the bus stop, she'd taken it from Amherst to here, as the hurricanes were pelting the Maritime provinces. On Saturday, she plans to take off, heading for Quebec. She has cut down everything she needs to the bare essentials: clothes, tent, sleeping bag, cookstove, first aid kits (one for humans, one for bikes), and journal. In total her gear weighs 60 lbs. The going is cold, and the pinkies on one hand are having trouble straightening, but all in all Claire is having fun. When she gets to Montreal she's got a place semi-lined up, and she's looking to spend the winter there.

In the meantime, though, she's here with me! She made my flatmates and I a fine supper last night, a baked cauliflower in cheese sauce, with a fresh salad. Yum! And this morning, after I got back from my early morning English class, we took our bikes to Odell Park and then along the river west along the Valley Trail. It's amazing how quickly you feel you're out of the city! Yellow leaves covered the trail and we talked about all sorts of things as we alternately 'strolled' and raced along on our bicycles. This afternoon I am going to take her to a class, political science, and then there's a lecture on 'eco-feminism'--I'm interested to find out more.

No doubt there'll also be some pool played while Claire is here. There's no-one I'd rather have beat me at the pool tables!

*Willy has also been a dear friend for a long time, apparently since the age of three. I don't know if he'd agree to that, but it's my blog, and he doesn't read it, so what's he going to do? He's lucky I'm not slandering him on a daily basis. I also travelled with him, out to BC, where he morphed into a partying snowboard instructor (like you do, in Whistler) and I, into a nanny/writer/janitor/pie queen. I always was an odd one.

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