9.6 Silent Hill

Yeah, yeah, yeah, if someone talks about the weather, means they have nothing interesting to say. They are boring. I know. Call me boring. What a shitshow it was here in Toronto this past weekend.

My girlfriend and I were supposed to drive to Ottawa last Saturday night. You know what started happening on Saturday night? Ice pellets, freezing rain, crazy wind. I read that there were over 500 collisions on Highway 401. I did not want to be collision #501.

Look, I know we live in Canada and all, and people always shrug and say, “What do you expect?” But, come on. We waited it out to see how the weather was Sunday morning. It was worse. A thin layer of ice covered the streets which was getting thicker by the hour. We waited it out so long that we decided to forget about it. Good thing too because we were supposed to return from Ottawa the following Tuesday. You know what happened in Ottawa on Tuesday? It snowed. This is mid-April.

So, somewhere around Sunday afternoon at 2:37, the final winter straw broke my back. Winter broke me. You see, I’m cold-blooded. I wear long underwear under my pants all winter - doesn’t help. If I don’t wear the long underwear, it feels like I’m naked from the waist down. You’re welcome for that image. I am cold all the time. Maybe I’m just getting old, maybe I have poor circulation. Why don’t I live somewhere else then? Good question. The problem is that I love this city in the spring, summer and fall. I like living in Canada. I am a United States citizen, but who wants to step into that mess down there at the moment? I want to pretend that by suffering through winter, I appreciate the spring and summer more. This argument is wearing thin, let me tell you.

There was a part of me that was still a bit on edge from a drive we undertook from Montreal to Toronto. As we started out, the sun was shining and all was right with the world. We passed an accident going the other way and the traffic was lined up for kilometers. We were winning. As we drove west, we got deeper under some dark forbidding clouds. The sun disappeared and it started raining as the clouds covered the sky overhead. The wind was so strong that it was challenging keeping the car in the lane.

Then the fog rolled in. We kept passing signs along the highway that read, “Be Aware: Possibility of Fog.” Thanks for the warning. The fog became so thick that it was difficult to see the road. We had entered Silent Hill. Naturally, no one adjusted their speed or driving and even though I was going the limit or just over, cars and trucks zoomed past us. At times, there were no signs of cars behind us and eerily we awaited the apocalypse. It was raining so hard that when a truck passed you, the spray from its wheels rendered you blind for a matter of seconds.

Let me take an interlude here about trucks. Hate’em. Sure, this probably stems from that time a couple of years ago when I got hit by two trucks on the Gardiner Expressway, but whatever. Before passing a truck, I hold back for a bit. Watch them, they like to sway all over the road. Sometimes obviously, sometimes in more subtle ways. Until I assess and deem them competent drivers, I will not pass.

On our way back from Montreal, my girlfriend swears she saw a truck driver face down on the steering wheel having a nap. Driving through Kingston, Highway 401 turns into three lanes and I was in the middle. A truck on either side of me passed at exactly the same time. They kicked up so much water that I was sure we were going to die. I couldn’t see and I knew there was a bend coming up in the road. I just held steady and even prayed to whoever is up there. Somehow we made it. So, yeah, I fucking hate trucks. The only way we actually made it home was because of my girlfriend. She was not judgemental about my feelings towards trucks and spoke encouragements to me throughout the trip that took way longer than it should.

Last Saturday, when it started freezing rain at exactly the time we were supposed to be leaving, I packed our stuff into the car anyway. I’d see what the driving conditions were like. Yes, even though the collision numbers were jumping by 100 by the hour. On the way to pick up my girlfriend, I thought, Maybe we could do this. Maybe we could start out and take our time? So what if we slide into a ditch, I had my long underwear on. We could forge out in the wilderness, build a fire, learn to live in the cold. Our skin would become hard and acclimatized to the snow and ice. When the thaw came, the warm sun on our shoulders would be akin to a spiritual experience. And then I almost got into an accident five minutes from my house. We went back home and didn’t leave for two days.

So, what I’m trying to say is: Fuck you, winter.

Paul Dore