Extraordinary stories from everyday life on the edge of the world

Stories

the best thing about us is the people we know.
 

Commercial Drive // Saturday, 1.12am

Rachel has the soft willowy elegance of a former ballerina, and I only hope that my red lipstick can keep pace with her. The boys are sleeping overnight at the home of their friend and hers, which means we can get as wasted as we want to, tonight. She seems fairly determined; it's been a while since she's gone out. The first song that plays as we drive from Kitsilano toward her friend's house in Grandview is "Never Ever Ever," which I've managed to avoid hearing in full, until now. The next one that comes out is Metric "Gold, Guns"--it puts me in a decided mood that now seems funny and dramatic to recall. But I get this way sometimes…watching the brassy lights fly past in reflection on the car windows, keeping my fidgety fingers out of my carefully fluffed hair, feeling excited as a kid going on their first plane ride and yet feeling the sort of desperate insistence on a good time from the local who is conveying me on this adventure. To me, it's an adventure; to them, it's a brief reprieve.

I don't really understand why this feeling of "How is this my life?" happens, in moments as mundane as this. We're just a couple of girls, going out for drinks with a couple of friends.

But I've never been to Vancouver; I'm the foreigner; to me, it's an adventure; and maybe I might be an adventure to them, in a way, if I do it right. If I tap into this magic I feel and convey it back to them.

Jess is just returned from a camping trip with her new boyfriend--a childhood friend with whom romance finally broke out. She shows us a picture--he's strapping and woodsy-looking. We drink Heinekens in the living room while she eagerly tells about how perfect he is. I wish I could remember some of the details, now…the only one I remember, actually, is the one that she hisses exuberantly, apropos of nothing, just as we were walking out the door:

"He has a huge cock!"

 

We meet up with Mike, a friend whom Rachel says sometimes annoys her with his matter-of-fact rightness about her relationship woes. He is always right, she admits, but still… He has an impenetrable benign face, that betrays no affect when I stop to take a picture of a vintage Thunderbird parked by the curb. He does, however, proceed to tell me about the Shelby Cobra he recently got to drive.

We go from a brewpub with expansive beer offerings and expensive sweet potato fries, to a Hungarian dive on Commercial Drive (I think), with blue lights and clear drinks of particular potency. I'm not drunk, I don't think…or maybe I am…somehow, I find myself telling all four of them about my addiction to diet pills during my last year in school. And it doesn't feel dramatic, like a confession, and it doesn't feel tawdry, like I'm trying to impress. It just feels good, because I've never simply flat-out told anyone about it.

Rachel, whose posture indicates she might well be drunk now, nevertheless regards me with sobriety.

"That's really good to know," she says. "Because honestly, I always felt like I couldn't talk to you because you were too good. Like I might corrupt you."

"Oh!" I cover my mouth with my hand. "Because I felt like I couldn't really talk to you, because I was so oversheltered. I felt like I was supposed to evangelize you, or something, and I didn't know how, or want to."

I know she knows that part. She smirks compassionately, and that's the end of that, forever.

 

Mike steers the three of us back to where the car is parked; we end up back at Jess' house somehow; the roads are deserted, and we're only a few blocks away. While Jess makes up the fold-out bed in the front room, I put on an old T-shirt from her dad's rugby days, and Rachel looks with despondent fatigue at her phone.

"I'm crazy about this guy," she confesses, her voice dryly lugubrious.

I don't know where she ends up sleeping; as for me, I wake up strangely light, and happy, and full of words. Jess' computer is open on the dining room table. I log into Gmail, eat a fistful of kale chips, and start to type.