“who killed that bird put on your windowsill?”
Lyrics to Remedy by The Black Crowes
Sitting here in a booth at a diner in Edmonton, Alberta I get a feeling of panic and fear. Looking around I see only three other people seated to dine, it could be that it’s 9:30 local time and not really meal time, or it could be that there are better places to hang out around the bustling town. In prior years I could have used the term “fear and Loathing in Edmonton” but that would typically reference an activity laced with drinking and recklessness. This diner scene is much different, there is a sense of tension in the air, the room is thick with the smell of pancakes and nobody is eating them.
Canada, you sexy bitch, I don’t want to leave you tomorrow. If anything I’m planning an escape tonight from the luxury accommodations of Morris the Truck and justvstart walking west. I can see myself walking into the brisk darkness, toting only my zebra print backpack and perhaps my designer purse…. Scratch that, if I’m going to pioneer in the wilderness, Michael Kors doesn’t really belong. Slipping away without letting anyone know, not knowing where to go or what to do, just disappearing like a fart in the wind. I sit here thinking about it, trying to figure out how to construct a shelter from sticks, how do I skin a bear, how the hell do I start a fire without a lighter and gas? Could I actually survive the wilderness?
Yes. Actually, I’m positive I could. These past three weeks of living on the road have taught me a few things about myself, three main things really, that I doubt anybody with a nine to five would ever find out about themselves. These things actually hit me all at once while singing along to the song “remedy” – that line I quoted above about the bird on the windowsill, I felt like my bird was killed.
One thing I realized is that I really don’t have anything to go back to. South Carolina has burned me too many times and actually I feel like I should run in the opposite direction as fast as humanly possible. Other times when I’ve left the country I’ve felt the same sort of way, I don’t want to go back to the US, now it’s getting a little more specific. Perhaps it’s not the US I have a problem with, just south Carolina. I need a fresh start. Edmonton has opened my eyes, not only to a cleaner way of living, but to the sock sad state of where I’m going back to. Just look at the damn news, Anderson South Carolina is becoming the murder capital of the upstate, and really the punishments getting handed out are lame. Here, boy howdy, you fuck with someone, you pay dearly. Just this morning there was a guy who beat another guy to death, they didn’t hesitate to give him a life sentence. That’s reality bucko, and if you advertise that you will have to pay for your crime, you’ll be less likely to do it. Seriously though, if you thought you’d get off the hook in three years for “accidentally” besting someone to death, wouldn’t you think a little harder about actually taking action? Not here, buddy, you’ll be making license plates for the mounted police for the rest of your life. That sort of thing will certainly kill the bird singing on your windowsill, actually, it’ll take away your windowsill all together. No more window for you, just the cold hard bars.
Too often I cling to my tangible objects, and being here in Canada, I have realized I have too much shit. I don’t need half the stuff I tote around in my backpack, and if you were to peek in my closet, it’s even more shameful. I’ve been trying to fill every single aspect of who I want to be by trying to pretend I’m something I’m not. Who I “want” to be and who I “pretend” to be all add up to who I “present” myself as. I walk around life hanging my head like a beaten dog because I feel inferior to everyone in the world. I’m the slime, and as slime, stuff sticks to me, stuff that doesn’t matter. Take for example being at the gym today, I felt inferior to every damn person in there because I’m fat. I’ve always felt this way and in an attempt to curb this feeling, I’ve amassed a collection of workout attire that is embarrassing. The people at the gym here just looked like normal people, doing normal workout stuff. I felt so out of place, I felt like a damn pimple on a princess. The longer I stayed, the uglier I started feeling, which in turn made me run faster to get my damn workout done. I’ve done this to myself time and time again, allow stuff to get to me and instead of actually addressing the actual issue, I just find sick ways of torturing myself to distract from the real feeling. If I were to walk out into the woods to become a pioneer, I wouldn’t have to worry about impressing the people at the gym, I don’t think the bears would mind me. I wouldn’t need a windowsill, I’d have birds all around me, no walls, nobody to judge me.
Then there is the realization of, well, reality. I’ve been an absolute vagabond the past three weeks. Losing your job will do odd things to you, beyond just making you tighten your purse strings and pinching the penny to the last drop. Adventuring throughout the States, I had no problem dropping a buck or two for a truck stop drink or a post card, but after crossing into Canada, my debit card ceased to work. I have no access to funds of any sort right now, I’m 648 miles from the border and I could care less. I’ve been scheming ways to make money, enough to buy a few provisions for my voyage into the woods and maybe a map, yeah, and a bottle of Bourbon. Then my mind switched into gear at the thought of Bourbon and forgot all about getting provisions, I would spend all my money on Bourbon, all the money that I would panhandle for, and buy a big ass bottle of Makers Mark….I could make a sign that says “stuck in Canada, don’t want to go back, take me home with you”. I could become a pet to some Edmontonian, I’d mow grass or something, fold laundry, play Fooseball. It wouldn’t work, because as soon as I got my hands around that sweet neck of Bourbon, I’d strangle the life out of it and myself at the same time. If I were to cross Bourbon and pioneering I wouldn’t last a week. It’d have to be one or the other. If I were to choose the Bourbon, I wouldn’t care if I had a windowsill or a bird. I wouldn’t care about anything.
Which is probably why I’m sitting here in this diner, smelling pot roast overhearing a guy using the “f” word and whimsy in the same sentence. I quit caring about the important things and focused on the narcissistic person that Nikki became. Oddly enough, as I’ve been traveling, I don’t like to think about the Nikki I was, I’ve developed an alter ego. Before you start pondering whether I’ve lost my mind, I have not, still very sane. My alter ego, Singh Wu, isn’t so panic and impulsive. She calmly approaches life and makes good decisions, she takes care of herself, she even brushes her teeth twice a day and wears deodorant. She respects others, she expects to receive respect, she helps others and takes criticism with a grain of salt.
“There lies a bluebird that had flown away.”
Townes Van Zandt – Catfish Song
So for me, I’m thinking of all the birds that sit and sing on windowsills, and all the birds that say “screw this nonsense, I’m outta here.” Aren’t we all like birds, flying through life, finding perches here and there? Don’t we all yearn to spread our wings and fly to new heights and sillsbut talk ourselves out of it for some damn reason. Where are the birds that have already flown away?
I saw a sunset today, from two different directions, one heading south, one from the north. It was the same damn sun, same damn sky, but totally different scene. It reminded me, right there in the yellowhead highway, life is how you look at it. You can see the bright colors of purple and orange on the setting horizon, or you can just see the darkness that is night. I took pictures, of course. Which one do you see?
I also was looking at a mountain peak, what I was supposed to send (what the tablet told me to see) and what I actually saw were different.