If there is one aspect of rational scepticism that I can be said to dislike, it is that I can't really believe that coincidences are fate. Certainly, I do find it preferable on the whole to think that my future is unwritten, that I'm not simply going through the motions of a destiny that has been fixed since the very beginnings of time. From time to time, however, events will occur that I imagine would make much more sense if there was such a force as fate at work in the universe. Sometimes small things; running into old friends you hadn't expected to see again, a second-grade test score which doesn't earn you a seventh-grade transfer to a different school which, in turn, leads to you hanging out with people who influence your choice of high school leading to a tenth-grade dream girl. I accept such events as random chance, just the one branch of possibilities I happened to experience instead of all the others. I've just been watching enough Heroes to make me wistful, I suppose. The particular coincidence which provided the creative spark for this post, well, it's part of a bigger story*.
I would love to start at the beginning, but should I try to isolate it I fear I would wind up starting this story with the genetic material which dictated the very chemistry of my brain. But then, ADHD being still poorly understood as I hear it, maybe the genes are just a part of some greater set of causes. At any rate, I would not be starting in a useful place, so let us skip a few chapters to the tenth grade dream girl. The chain of events from this point onward is somewhat more relevant. There's a three-year long relationship which she moves on from and I don't, for whatever reason. There's a friend who believed that my life in Ottawa had thereafter become stagnant, and so invited me to live with him in Halifax. At this point the ADHD – which I have been unsuccessfully attempting to deal with sans medication for several years now – comes right 'round and bites me in the ass. I have, therefore, been - how shall I say this? - “persuaded” to spend this year reflecting on my personal and academic ambitions in lieu of pursuing my previous course of study. It seems, so far, that my ambitions seems to revolve a great deal around the three-tube CRT projector in our living room in Halifax. Not much of a life, but I've seen some good movies. Art criticism, then? I imagine that's a hard market to break into.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
When I made it plain that my ambitions did not include spending a year in Ottawa living some two blocks away from the walking emotional torture rack I used to call my girlfriend, the next step was to ensure some sort of income for myself in Halifax. Gotta pay the bills, after all, and as “technically not a student” a number of previous avenues for the acquisition of wealth have become inaccessable. My parents considered putting me on a plane, but eventually decided to drive down in their newly- purchased 1982 Volkswagen Westfalia (camper type). Some of the prettier stops along the way I captured on film. Turns out that means mostly waterfalls. To wit:
These falls are just outside Quebec city. There is also a pedestrian bridge over the river, further down:
And the crossing (very wobbly, though you'll not see it in the picture):
Next, the view from the bridge looking away from the falls:
Continuing on the other side, there are bike trails which enter a forest. Therein can be found the following pond:
And, finally, there was this little man-made rock formation (lower middle, to the right) which was too darling not to photograph:
Part one of my much-vaunted coincidence occurs maybe two hours after these photos were taken. Two hours east of Quebec city in another town along la Fleuve Saint-Laurent, as they call it in those parts. This town:
Of course, we didn't actually arrive in Riviere-du-Loup proper until the next morning. Our van broke down on the highway as I was driving. We were maybe 40km outside of town. I had been driving a little fast that day, so at that time it seemed possible that 7 hours at what might have been 110km/h had simply been too much for the old girl. I say “what might have been” because at some point during its long history, our VW's speedometer had become calibrated to a system that was neither metric nor imperial. My father and I used mileposts and counting to discern our speed, and it turned out that what the VW said was 70mph was actually about 90kph (some 57mph, if you want apples-to-apples). Of course, it took us a while to get the counting right, so for a while we thought 80mph might be 90kph, that sort of thing. I affectionately dubbed the big numbers which had used to denote speed in mph “Intergalactic Units”. At any rate, the engine did not want to start again. One CAA towtruck later, and we were parked beside a 24-hour garage (sort of? Their towtruck service was round-the-clock perhaps, but their mechanics were not), worrying that the van would never start again. We cooked dinner on the propane stove (this is why you buy a Westfalia, people!), and then slept the night, hoping against hope that it might just be that the fuel filter had clogged. The next morning:
Riviere-du-Loup sits very near the teeny-tiny town of Cacouna. Shouldn't mean much to me. Shouldn't mean anything to me at all, except it does - because it mattered to her. The next day, with there being no sense waiting around in a place where the closest thing to civilization is an Irving Big Stop, we rented a car and headed into town. It was like walking with a ghost. It's one thing to avoid the sort of stimuli that remind you unpleasantly of an old flame, but when it's a place, well, there's really no escaping it. Of all the places we could have broken down, it was there. Times like those, you really wish it all meant something in the grand scheme of things, like you were meant to break down there and confront the demons of a failed relationship. But no such luck.
Stay tuned for Part II!