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To Kingston and back again; a New Year's journey or,

Young Geoffrey VS the ravages of age!

Our son, the driver!
Our son, the driver (I'm so proud)! Carl the Second takes the wheel.

Raven had a brutal couple of months at work and insisted that a post-holiday holiday was in order.

Kingston (Ontario) being reasonably close by, and boasting one of our favourite eateries, the humbly- and confusingly-named Pat's Restaurant, which serves up some delicious fare that, I'm told, is about as authentically Cambodian as one is likely to find in a small Ontario city, I rented a car and packed up the family for a whirlwind getaway last Thursday morning. (Yes, more than a week ago now; I've been busy.)

Raven had also got us tickets to see something called Lumina Borealis, an interactive sound-and-light show held in and around "historic Fort Henry". I had feared we'd be standing around watching a display similar to that which shows up on Parliament Hill every summer, a technically impressive, but edifyingly bourgeois entertainment, which we would passively consume while standing in the damp and frigid Kingston night as it was projected upon the Fort's walls.

Image of one part of the Lumina Borealis light-show in Kingston, Ontario.
A wall near the end of the Lumina Borealis show. Pictured here are people hurling orange snowballs at the display; a hit results in sound and a reaction from the imagine.

Happily, it was a good deal more interesting — and fun. It was cold (a damp cold! And for those of you who live in warmer climes, a dry cold is a lot easier to handle), but the show — a variety of sights and sounds, including physical objects, light-images and microphones into which we could speak or sing and affect the visual goings-on upon the walls around us — more than made up for it. We probably did the circuit in 45 minutes, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I had thought I would.

If you have kids, they'll love it.

But I digress. Aside from the Pat's (Cambodian) Restaurant, the other memory I had from our last visit, was of the best biscotii had ever tasted.

Come morning, we left Carl the Second in charge of our motel room and set out in search of coffee — and biscoti.

Carl the Second guards our room at the Super 8
Carl in Charge! Our son was proud to be responsible for protecting our room from strangers and nose motel employees.

I didn't remember the name of the place, but had a pretty good idea of its location, and it didn't take too long for me to find it. Coffee & Company at 53 Princess Street. We entered and took our place in line. When it was my turn, I ordered a Large coffee (sensibly, they do Small, Medium and Large; that's it, that's all) and not one, but two, biscotis. The second I asked for in a bag, as I wanted to take it home with me.

Dream on, Young Geoffrey!

Two biscotis became one, then almost none, in very short order. (After snapping the photo below, "almost none" become "none".) And when it was time to go, I found myself lurking near the counter and smiling and nodding at the young woman in charge with all the deranged charm of a temporarily sober drunk at a family gathering..

The remains on the tray. A small piece of a once mighty biscoti.
The remains on the tray. Yes, your Honour, it was delicious. I regret nothing!

"I need another biscoti," I said, brandishing the empty bag into which she had earlier placed my second. "To go."

She smiled and nodded in return, as if I weren't on the edge of drooling. As she reached the glass jar in which the biscotis were on handsome display, I blurted out, "Make it two. No! One. No! Two! TWO!"

"Are you sure?" she smiled, a kindly Pity dripping from her eyes like sweet honey.

"Yes," I whispered, and stared as she set about her labours.

She grinned and tonged one, then, two, then three biscotis into the little white paper bag. As the third dropped from sight, she winked at me and mouthed, Don't say anything!

What could I do but grin and nod, then shake my head emphatically in reply?

When Raven and I left the cafe, I asked her, "Do you think she gave me the third biscoti because she thought I'm a hot stud or a cute old man?"

"Oh please!" quoth Raven. "A cute old man."

The sun sets on Young Geoffrey's Youth or,

A young woman struggles mightily to extricate foot from mouth

Our son, the model!
Carl II somehow travels backwards in time, to when all was a panda's paradise: black and white!

Back in Ottawa, I worked a late shift on Saturday that saw me home after 03:00 Sunday morning and in bed close to 05:00. And up again far too soon, for a soccer game at 13:00 hours.

Despite a two week lay-off for seasonal gorging, the game was a good one, hard-fought and close, ending in a 5-5 tie. And, more importantly from my personal stand-point, I played better than I feared I might, running hard and placing some nice balls, if I do say so myself. I even assisted on at least one goal.

Anyway, at one point early in the second half I and a young team-mate called Maddison, with whom I've shared a team a few times before, found ourselves on the sidelines, chatting.

"You're doing really well today," she said. I demured as one does, but she insisted, "You've really mastered the one-touch exit. And you really move! You run just as hard, and pretty fast for, uh ...

There was an expression bordering on social panic in her clenched jaw as she realized her near faux-pas.

Jesus, the things people take offense at! Or might take offense at.

I smiled widely and said, "It's okay, I know I'm a little older than most of you guys. I'm not under any delusions about that."

She nodded, sheepishly, then added, "I don't know if I qualify as young any more myself."

"Oh please! You're under 30, aren't you?"

"I'm 26."

I laughed. "I'll be 52 in February. You're still pretty young from where I stand!"

And I thought, before I took the field again, how strange it is that merely verbally acknowleding an obvious truth — such as, that a man twice her age is "older" — can be frought with such anxieties.

And yet, I felt an echo of Maddison's nerves myself, when she answered my guess that she was under 30, with the information she is 26. Might she, I briefly wondered, have been hurt that I didn't suggest she was under 25?

But there you have it. Like almost every older person I know or have known, I don't feel like I am the chronological age that I am. But (and unlike many, I am blessed with my bike-riding, soccer-playing good health (and nevermind the arthritis and possible tendonitis)) I can't help but become increasingly self-conscious of the fact that Young Geoffrey is, in truth, well into his middle years.

Post-scriptum, for Nellie

"Powderfinger" is one of my favourite Neil Young songs. Bad history, but (I think) beautiful poetry, in metal.

He came dancing across the water
With his galleons and guns
Looking for the new world
In that palace in the sun.

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I'm writing this entry (or at least, will have started it) at YOW, the Ottawa International Airport. I am not here to work but rather, to await the return of my sweetie, home soon after almost three weeks over-seas.

Three weeks: not an insignificant amount of time. Close enough to 6% of a year, if you want to put it in perspective.

And temporal perspective is something that's been hitting me a lot lately. More or less since I turned 50, come to think of it.

Unlike any previous milestone, this one gives me pause. I suspect the physical deteriorations of my parents, and a favourite aunt's early-stage dementia has something to do with it, but so to does the sheer extent of my own existence.

To put it another way: If three weeks is not an insignificant length of time, than 50 years is a fuck-load of it.

It's not just a lot of time in terms of a human life. Think about it. The first half of the 20th centure — 50 years — saw not one but two World Wars and a Great Depression, not to mention the widespread adoption of technologies like the automobile, the airplane and the televison, but also the invention of entirely new art forms: film, comics, jazz, rock-and-roll.

My own half-century is even more spectacular. Space-flight. Computers. The internet. Fifty years ago, homosexual acts were criminal acts, and a husband could not, in law, rape his wife.

All of which is to say: though I don't feel old (or even, much older), I've rather suddenly become all to aware of the passage of my time. Of goals and dreams unacomplished, of mistakes made. Of the sudden tangible reality of my own mortality.

I have become aware of death in a way I never was before. Or rather, of my death.

It's not that I am afraid of dying. I'm an atheist. Death holds no terrors for me. Rather, it's that I feel ... disturbed at the prospect of just how little time I have left. Let's face it: the odds that I have another 50 years ahead of me — never mind 50 good years — are not in my favour.

I dunno, really. There really isn't much point to all these words, other than a sudden desire to articulate what has been inchoate sensation, this realization that time is running short, if not quite (yet) running out.

I hope it proves to be a spur of some sort, something to goad me into making better use of my time than I have in the past. I do still feel as if I have the talent and brains to make something at least somewhat memorable of my life.

But by god, I guess I'd better get cracking!

Right. Speaking of time, Raven's plane will be landing in about five minutes. Time to wrap this up; time to pack away my miraculous portable computer, time to stagger downstairs and wait to hold her in my arms once again.

Life may be short but, as my mother has taken to saying, lately it has also been good.

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Down three goals at the end of the first half, playing short-handed the entire game and forced to accept a sub from the opposing team when their captain — and only girl playing — went down with a knee injury, the @UOttawa-A's of the Ottawa Footy Sevens Recreational Soccer League faced inevitable defeat with heroic defiance.

Early in the second half, they found the back of the Zinedine Shenanigans' net, then found it again. The Shenanigans struck back to re-gain a two-goal lead, but by the time the clock showed less than five minutes to go, Young Geoffrey answered the call for a sub at forward, despite spending most of his career on the back end of the pitch.

Young Geoffrey, the oldest player on the pitch, saw the ball land four metres in front of the opposition net and drove towards the orb. Eye on the net, he pivoted on his left leg and left fly with his right. The ball curved towards the far corner, even as a team-mate's foot lashed out and caught his ankle with a might blow. Young Geoffrey went down like some ancient oak crashing through the underbrush, yet he kept his eye on the ball and gloried in the sight of the netting billowing outwards.

GOALLL!

His team-mate went down as if in sympathy. "Jesus!" said Greg, "I'm sorry! Are you okay?

Young Geoffrey was already getting to his feet, even as the referee and players from both teams began to gather round like hyenas sensing blood concerned recreational players.

"I'm fine, I'm fine," said Young Geoffrey as he rotated his ankle to verify his words. "We scored, you know."

"You scored," said Greg, "that was yours!

The final four minutes saw the Shenanigans push for the trying goal with all their might, but despite their extra player, the uOttawa - A's held on for a victory well-earned.

* * *

I get mocked for my braggadocio, by colleagues at work and even by ostensible Best Friends, but fuck it. I was a fat(ish) kid as a youth and, though I loved to play pick-up hockey at the local (outdoor) rink, and soccer at recess in grade school, I was never under any delusion I was an athlete. I only once played an organized sport — soccer, the summer after grade five or six.

My sainted mother remembers me as a plucky little boy who "trundled bravely down the field". Thanks, mom; you make me sound like a dancing dog, as if it were a miracle I could play at all.

Anyway ...

Anyway, outdoor shinny gave way, in my teens, to indoor drinking and smoking and I kept up those virtues until well into my 40s.

So you know what? That at the age of 50 I find myself playing with and against "kids" who are mostly in their 20s and 30s is at least partly due to having had the wisdom to choose a robust set of ancestors, the truth is, I am proud of myself, as well as grateful.

It is fun to find myself getting better a fucking sport in my Late Youth, and watching that ball go into the net was an absolute joy, somehow made even sweeter by the fact of the kick that took me down almost in the same instant.

* * *

My god! Has it really been more than five years since I gave up that noxious master, tobacco? (It has.) A whole tenth of my life, now that I've passed the fifty year mark! The rate at which the passage of time continues to accelerate is as astonishing to me as it is appalling.

Which also means that another 5th anniversary is almost upon me: About a week from now will mark exactly five years since I reached over and draped my arm over Raven's shoulder. And, shortly thereafter, kissed her. (She made me sleep on the couch that night. But deigned to share it with me.)

We moved into our own apartment some three years ago or so, and are now about to move again. This time into a god damned town-house! Two floors. Carpets. Landlord a non-profit housing organizing, instead of rapacious slumlords (rent miraculously only $100.00 more than we're currently paying for the shoddy, mouse-infested hovel we'll call home for another two and a half weeks or so).

50 years old and a townhouse! Can it be that Young Geoffrey is not quite so young as he once was?

Hell, I dunno. All I'm sure of is, these entries would come a lot easier and more organically, if I wrote more of them.

I'll try ...

April 2017

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