The Slow Lane Chronicles is a column the Undercurrent began running in 2005. It’s been absent a while so, being rusty, bear with me. Oh, and apologies for the rather heavy use of brackets (I shall work on that).
Okay, so say I’m on the ferry talking. To whomsoever. Let’s say Dean Nickle. Great guy, amusing children, nose to the grindstone etc. We’ve only just sat down and the ferry is easing out of Horseshoe Bay; people greet one another, a man orders a bagel, a toddler lurches by.
Another trip on our beloved Q of C.
After that overlong departure announcement that needlessly uses the word “deemed,” Dean tells me something. Anything. Like maybe – and this is an example, Dean didn’t actually tell me this (nor did anyone) – he says a petition has been presented to our newly elected council seeking a bylaw that would make it illegal to build a new home on Bowen.
“The issue has split council down the middle but there’s no word yet on the mayor,” Dean adds (but not really.) “The petition is from Preserve Our Ontologically Pristine Island (POOPI), a group lead by long-time islander, Nimby Bowen.”
(Slow Lane note: in real life there is surely no actual person named ‘Nimby Bowen’ and if there is then he [for Nimby is almost certainly a male name] was likely bullied as a child, which is a tragic and entirely different story.)
Anyhow, after the Queen of Capilano’s mercifully shorter arrival announcement (that is now inexplicably played about halfway through the trip) comes and goes we make land in Snug Cove. I walk off thinking about Dean’s dramatic news concerning Nimby Bowen, POOPI and the proposed bylaw.
(Bear with me, we begin to approach the crux of this.)
I venture up my street to find none of my neighbours about, not Mary-Ann or Paul Welsh, Carmen or Mikey, not Hudson Henrique and his Amazing Band of Brothers, not Chris Speight, Susan Hogan or Joy Nickle. Neither Eve or Jackie LeRoy or their father, Rod is around; ditto Paulo Schneller-Wayne. Tracey’s at work, the Boy away playing hockey.
No one to share the big news with.
So two days pass in which, occupied by life, I do not think of Nimby Bowen. Then a friend, this time let’s say it’s Paul Lieske (who is in fact my best friend, on Bowen) reminds me of what I heard by saying (though not really): “Sure was a close election, hey?”
In this fictitious scenario, by association Paul’s rhetorical question brings back that ferry conversation. (The crux grows ever-near!) However, what would almost certainly happen is this: I will remember what I was told that day but not who told me.
“Maybe it was, Matthew Harrison. Doug Wood?” I might say to Paul (but didn’t). “No, it wasn’t Doug. Barry Pynn? Sarah Haxby? Will Husby? Nah, I’m jamming on phonetics now. Oh, hey: Keona Hammond. Ann Ramsay? Dave Taylor? Wait, Dave moved off-island a while ago. Jeez, no idea who told me.”
This doesn’t only happen on the ferry (an extension of our Happy Isle) but anywhere on Bowen, and only on Bowen. I’ll remember what I was told, where I was when told (third set of comfy seats up from cafeteria, facing Rich at the till, for example) but not who told me. Likewise, I often can’t recall which islander I’ve told something to.
I could worry about advancing age over this but since arriving 15 years ago it has always been so. No, it is more apt to blame this not on a poor memory but a quirk of memory. On my simply having a hippocampus for which Bowenians present as a kind of homogeneous and friendly lump of one. A giant fleshy, effusive aggregate, akin to a single individual creature.
And why not? After all, we have more similarities than differences, sharing not only our humanity but Bowen places (the Tuscany, turf field, Knick Knack Nook, that pathway up to Village Square, etc.) and a multitude of Bowen experiences (hiking up Mt. Gardner, ferry overloads, Bowen Facebook sites, Halloween in Deep Bay, etc.)
So then finally we arrive at the crux: leaving aside my quirk of memory I submit our similarities help us through events like oh say…a razor close election that made Skeels over Rhodes by 14 votes in 2014 seem a landslide. We can still warmly greet one another in the line-up at the Ruddy, stand side-by-side in a Spelling Bee or collectively rant at the next car to butt into the ferry line-up. We remain (as my hippocampus insists upon seeing us) as one.
And I wasn’t told that – I figured it out on my own.