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  • Writer's pictureWellington Lambert

South of Moosonee 14



-15F/-29F

(Click) Jutta recording

Why didn’t I get married? (laugh) … Ok, well, I think I was born into the wrong time. Since I can remember I’ve had to try and understand people out from the outside looking in. I didn’t have friends, not real friends. I once had a strong relationship with a man I knew at in Toronto, but my connection to him was more than an attraction, it was like we knew each other in another life. That was the closest I had ever felt to what I guess we call love, that connection. I still have it, I still feel it. Just like I feel my father right now, and my mother. (Pause, door closing sound in the background)

Forgive me for saying this, but marriage is a ridiculous institution, I know that makes me sound bitter, but in my opinion, you shouldn’t celebrate finding someone you’re attracted to, give it twenty years. If you haven’t killed each other, celebrate that. (Laugh, cough, sip)

(click) end of Jutta recording

*

I’m in London.

Saying that sounds weird. Like I’m a world traveler if you don’t add the Ontario after it.

I’m staying at the adjudicator’s apartment. The one who told me about auditioning for the choir. He seems nice. I remember him talking about breathing and my diaphragm when he was adjudicating at the festival. I really didn’t pay attention, I’d already won. My only competition was this French kid from this big French family that lived near my theory teacher. They also had a daughter that competed in piano and was always competing in the same category as my sister. When she would play, she would move her body up and down like she was dancing with the music. Once an adjudicator told her to not do that as much. He didn’t say it because it changed her music, he said it because he didn’t like what it looked like. I thought that was weird, telling someone to feel less while playing music, didn’t make sense. But how you feel and how you express those feeling seemed to be different in English and French people. English people are more up tight, I know, I can feel it in myself. There’s never that letting go feeling.


London is flat. I thought I would be seeing tall buildings, but they all seem short. I was hoping this would be my chance to go into an elevator, press a button, feel it move.

The adjudicator calls it the city of trees, there are a lot of trees.

*

He took us out to dinner on the first night. I am staying at his place with two other guys. One of them is into sports and talks a lot, the other one is quiet.

The waiter came by with a cart that had pieces of cake on it. I took the walnut cake. It was amazing.

*

I am sleeping on the fold out couch in the living room with the kid that talks a lot. I prefer the talking to no talking, that way I don’t feel like I have to say much. When people are quiet around me, I feel like I have to keep talking to fill in the silence. I end up saying the stupidest shit.

The quiet kid slept with the adjudicator in his bed.

*

First day of rehearsal and I’m screwed. Everyone already knows the music. I thought we would be learning the music when we got here, but once the conductor moved his arm everyone sang there part perfectly while I struggled to sight read my way through it.

Every few minutes the conductor would stop and scream at us. He says we sound worse than a bunch of cows, which seems like an odd comparison. He is mad all the time. He gets a ride with the adjudicator I stay with. When he comes in the morning, he is still angry. He looks at me with a hate I am familiar with. Like I don’t deserve to be here. He might be right.

The quiet guy is still quiet.

*

I made friends with two girls one from St. Catherine’s and one from London. Girls are the only ones interested in being friends with me. They wanted to go drinking in a car in a parking lot outside the rehearsal space. It sounded fun, but when I got there, I found out they had invited two other guys. It felt less like fun and more like competition.

Not sure why guys are such assholes around girls, they want to insult me constantly, it’s weird. They think I’m an obstacle but I’m not. Sometimes though I’ll be extra friendly to one of the girls, just to piss them off.

*

Puff the magic dragon

In grade four all the students were in the auditorium getting ready to watch some awful movie about personal hygiene. Every Friday we were marched into the gym to watch a movie. The subjects where different each time, but I can’t really remember anything but the hygiene movies. That day the projector didn’t work, and for some reason my teacher decided it would be a good idea for me to go up in front of the school and sing Puff the Magic dragon. I didn’t want to do it, but as soon as students in my class saw that I was uncomfortable, they screamed fake encouragement at me. Nothing passes the time better than watching someone, who isn’t you, embarrass themselves in front of the whole school.

I think the first lines I sung where Puff the magic Dragon, lived by the sea, (then it’s blurry)… Someone told me it was about drugs, smoking pot. Maybe the magic dragon is what Peter can see when he gets stoned. I wish I could see a dragon when I get stoned. We’d become friends, travel together. I won’t need anyone else, except my drug dealer…and a job, to buy drugs.

*

We had a half day off today. I met up with the girls. We went to the house where one of them live. No one was there. There was plastic on the furniture in the living room and cigarettes arranged in a small glass container on top of the living room table, like candy. I remember the cigarettes more then the plastic. I thought it was weird that parents would leave that out for anyone to grab. Like my friend who has playboy magazines in his family bathroom for anyone to read.

*

We did the performance tonight. They recorded it to make an album to give to us later. My name will be on the back of the album, it’s kind of exciting.

*

Both the other guys left. It’s just me and the adjudicator. He said I could sleep in his bed with him if I wanted, but I wanted to sleep on the couch. That way I could listen to the Gold Rush on the radio with headphones on. I discovered Lene Lovich singing My Lucky Numbers One. I loved it. I want to hear it again. Right now, Kate Bush is my favourite, I discovered her at the Circle of Sound, the record shop in the mall. Cool people hang out there like they hang out in the smoking area at the school.

*

I’m home, nothing has changed.

*

Puff the magic Dragon

In grade four all the students were in the auditorium getting ready to watch some awful movie about personal hygiene. The subjects where different each time, but I can’t really remember anything but the hygiene movies. That day the projector didn’t work, and for some reason my teacher decided it would be a good idea for me to go up in front of the school and sing Puff the Magic dragon. I didn’t want to do it, but as soon as students in my class saw that I was uncomfortable, they screamed fake encouragement at me. Nothing passes the time better than watching someone, who isn’t you, embarrass themselves in front of the whole school. I think the first lines I sung where Puff the magic Dragon, lived by the sea, (then it’s blurry)…

Someone told me the song was about drugs, smoking pot. Maybe the magic dragon is what Peter can see when he gets stoned. I wish I could see a dragon when I get stoned. We’d become friends, travel together. I won’t need anyone else, except my drug dealer…and a job, to buy drugs.

*

I remember telling my friends that I could tell the future with a candle. I would crush some sparklers and get everyone to sit around a circle in a dark space. I would light the candle and sprinkle the sparkler dust over it, ask a question and blow once for yes, twice for no, three for maybe. The best result was a maybe answer. It didn’t take long before my friends became bored with it. After that, I convinced them to build a bomb shelter off Sturgeon Road. I could sell them the idea, but I just couldn’t make it stick. We managed to dig a huge hole, but it stopped there. I wanted a secret room underground, but after a certain point all they cared about were girls, not adventure. After that point all my adventures lived in my head and stayed there.

*

I fell in love with fire. Any kind of fire. Small fire, big fire, wood, clothing…plastic. I was amazed how almost anything could disappear into ashes with just an increase in temperature, a big increase. I enjoyed the striking of the match. The sulphur smell and the anticipation of how the chosen material would burn after lighting it on fire. I was hypnotized by the flame and how it could reduce anything to nothing. I wanted that power; I wanted to be fire.

*

Went to the Christmas eve midnight mass at St. Marks church. It is the only time the church is full. The minister spends half his time talking about how shitty it is that no one comes to church the rest of the year. It’s like this is his time to really say how he feels. I don’t think he realizes that when he talks like that it makes people not want to come back. No one likes being made to feel like shit.

Part way through the service the Indians come in. They sit in the back. No one seems to know them even though they kind of live with us. The service doesn’t seem like a real Christmas midnight service until they arrive. They are like that distant relative no one talks about.

The best part of the service is when they put the candles out and it fills the church with that smoky, waxy smell.

*

Memory is weird.

I remember Dermot, but I don’t know when and why I stopped knowing him.

I remember him being my best and only friend when I was little. I remember going to his house for play dates arranged by our mothers. His mother reminded me of the woman who played Mary Poppins. I remember his house being very quiet and clean.

I remember his father would come in the back door and shower in the basement after coming home from work.

I also remember his mother was the director of the kids’ choir at church. She made singing fun. She would always bring treats to give us after practice. There was something about her that made me want to make her like me.

I remember Dermot and I would kiss each other goodbye.

I remember my mother telling me boys don’t kiss each other goodbye.

I remember thinking that was strange.

*

(click) Jutta recording

Am I afraid of the dark...interesting, that question contains quite a few bits and pieces in it. For example, the dark offers a blank canvas for all our fears. It sets in motion a physical response that says be prepared, for everything, but that’s not possible, so fear becomes the overwhelming response. When we have no control, our brain grabs onto anything for safety, it needs to calm down, to find a safe spot. Sometimes I look into the forest at night, from my window and think, what if something horrible comes out of the forest and starts walking towards my window. You see, most of time, you create what comes out of the dark. Some people find it exciting to be scared, but that’s only because they have never experienced the true fear of what lies in the dark, waiting.

(click) End of Jutta recording

Ok, Jutta is beginning to scare me.

*

Christmas day was the usual.

Mom bought us too much stuff and Dad hated it.

I think my mother wants us to have what she didn’t, and my dad doesn’t want us to have what he didn’t.

They’re both right, and wrong, I think.

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