Tuesday, December 27, 2016

SPIROCHETE—Spiralling Around the Lake

Etymology: Greek, speira, coil, chaite, hair

2. Spiralling Around the Lake

I am an advertising production coordinator with over forty magazines in my charge. Southam Murray is a thriving company, vibrating with enthusiasm and excitement that soars above the clacking of the bindery and rhythmic swirl of presses. From time to time the industrial hum is blasted with the glare of sirens alerting everyone, especially pressmen, that paper has jammed somewhere in one of the two-story monster machines. The scramble to remove the jam is like an ant colony called to action. From my office in the production department that I share with my assistant Anna, to the pre-press area where film for the ads I oversee is updated, laid out and masked with RubyLith, where proofs for my approval are pulled, it’s a quarter of a mile. Battery operated scooters with mounted baskets to carry proofs and portfolios, tubes of film, envelopes of copy and transparencies are available to everyone. I never ride a scooter preferring to walk through the plant to see what’s on the skids, wave to coworkers in overalls, hairnets and hardhats. There are over twelve hundred employees at this location, although a large wound is still being healed, a gaping hole left by coworkers laid off when Eaton’s catalogue ceased publication.

I've moved again to a one-bedroom suite on the ground floor of an apartment tower close to a small grocery store and just one block away from where, Mondays through Fridays, I board the first of four busses and one train work. Access to transit is important as I do not have, or want, a driving licence. My unit has oak parquet flooring and saloon doors to a kitchen with modern avocado coloured appliances. I find it über inviting and imagine I could stay for years. 

I landed here because the rent, at one hundred and fifty dollars per month, is affordable for me, a twenty-two year old living alone, although I could easily budget more. This is the fourth apartment of my own. Nilz has helped me with each move, built some of the furniture, gifted me with knickknacks and shared my bed. But he's never moved in, choosing instead to live rent-free at his parents’ large home in a nearby suburb even after he finished university. I resent that we’re not living together after nearly four years.

Nilz and I plan a quick trip in the Cutlass around Lake Ontario for the Victoria Day holiday weekend. The roads are good with improvements having been made on both sides of the lake for the upcoming 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Late on Friday night after a long week of work we pack our gear and head to bed exhausted. We're up at sunrise to access Highway 401 and head east. We talk and listen to tunes on the eight-track as we ride along. 

Near Ganaoque we stop for the night at a dingy but convenient motel. Sunday morning we make our way along the St. Lawrence River. There's no traffic at the border and we roll into the US without being asked to stop. Crossing the river marks the turnaround point for our journey. We head back through upstate New York. There are historic mansions, state parks monuments and viewpoints at every turn. It's an exotic adventure for us driving along the winding lakeshore. Although it's just across the lake, we feel far from home when we check in at a waterfront motel. The journey is easy. Everything feels right.

With no time pressures as our adventure continues early the next morning we cut inland toward Niagara Falls and Goat Island, for a different perspective of the raging waters than the one from the Canadian side with which we are familiar. It's not a holiday in New York and there's a bustle of regular workday traffic around us. After loading up with our quota of cigarettes, my choice being the long, slim and colourful Eve brand, we return to Canada across the Niagara River via the Rainbow Bridge. Bored border guards wave us through.

Niagara Parkway along the river and Lakeshore Road get us back to Mississauga. When Nilz drops me off at my apartment after dinner at his parents' place, we've driven a complete circle. 

At home, as I relax in a bath, I inspect a small swollen area on my right leg that’s been aggravating me all day. It looks like a mosquito bite. It's slightly swollen with a tiny red dot in the middle. I rub it lightly, climb out of the tub and into bed.

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