I inherited a tripod from one of my new roommates. It is basic but serviceable. I know there’s no way my camera will catch the moon missing, but the February 21 lunar eclipse is a good opportunity to take out the tripod and practice unmoving.
Speaking of (un)moving, things have been good here in Victoria, BC. I like my job a lot, am learning a lot and am struck pleased by the fortune of the whole arrangement: not just the experience from work and the observation of the library unschoolable—politics, policies, lumbering bureaucracies—but the chance to delay graduation to reflect on what I’ve been learning. These two years have gone so fast. I look forward to finishing school, but even more so, now, knowing I will be prepared.
Plus the custodian looks like Ronan Harris, and that can’t help but make me happy, every morning resisting a squealing salute. And a student union vendor serves the most amazing curry wrap and spicy daal with mango chutney dollop. I add one packet of pepper to remind me I’m a Midwesterner and swoon over the entire meal.
(Here’s a career fair in the student union, which included a Canadian Forces presence. The Students Against War set up right in front of them—with their clever coffin table, fatigues and pirate gear, merrily recruiting students to die.)
I have been homesick—and strange, to feel it now for Vancouver, the rogue, in addition to Minneapolis and the lingering Fargo ties that bind. Over Christmas Ben introduced me to Sims and P.O.S., a couple of Minneapolis hip hop artists I never had the chance or mind to get into when once upon a time we shared the same neighborhoods.
Now I’m tuned in near nonstop, all the Minnesota and Minneapolis references—landmarks and mentalities—making me miss, heart, home sicks. Check out the song “Hot Monotony” and not reel full-body seize fall down, I dare. I’m also completely in love with “15 Blocks” (Sims mp3 download from doomtree.net). Sims and fellow doomtreer Mike Mictlan play the Aquarium in Fargo on March 7, two shows. At least half my brothers are going, and god. I wish.
I text the teenage ones about the eclipse, as I bless their Saturday nights, rib their Valentine’s remind Mom’s birthday is tomorrow, try to make it special. Be good brothers and be good sons. I can send SMS internationally via Skype but the tech does not permit them to respond. This removes the question of whether they would.
When I talk to them on the phone I feel my age plus ten trying to recall being seventeen and the things I thought and did. More clearly I remember the things I didn’t do. Straight-edge, solitary, defined by an excess of absence. It doesn’t haunt me but it doesn’t help much, either.
So. How’s school.
Super Tuesday in Canada, alone, was the positive pits, previewing the expatriate election aches awful sure to multiply, divide me. I love my old precincts, neighbor feller citizens, I love the caucus vote voice, the sheen in our eyes knots in our throats with the ropes wrapped tight, one more year to month week night our hopes the halos we beat the apathetic with love your freedom to question your freedom. Love the decision between a black man and a woman. Love this festering wound up toy nation, a superpower out to lunch corrupt, incorrigible, where the only thing we have to fear is no fear. Ask not what your country can do for you, tell it.
I’m ashamed when ashamed and when having no shame, trying to shine light for curious Canadians so quick to cut down my scarycrow nation then horrified they might have done something wrong. Might have offended, might have hurt my feelings.
You can’t imagine what I feel, or how you could hurt me. Silly.
And I know I’m wrong, stumbling over totem poles, First Nations art.ifacts all over campus, so proud of the heritage you slash we destroyed, fall over the words proper to name aboriginal indigenous “we were here first” but I wouldn’t know the face of it—the faces of First Nations, I see echoes but no peoples—I wouldn’t know my own, before my parents were born? before forefathers stole theirs slash we slashed theirs. Rocking on our heels with quaint ideals, ideas of hell and healing.
Like the admission of shared guilt is what I want to shut us up. To bring us closer together.
People apologize for the size of the city. I must be real bored. They fail to recognize that I recognize (and that they might realize, too) the city has a history and an actual downtown where people work and shop and eat and play. Vic has its dislocated shopping malls, sure, but there is a downtown sector, core. The city has gravity. The city has old people and homelessness and hippie bohemians. “Home of the newly wed and nearly dead,” I’ve heard time and time again. Early blooms, hoarse British accents, blood on the sidewalks, pomp severed circumstance.
I buy packs of noodles and sleeves of spices from the oldest Chinatown in Canada. In two hours, five times I am verbally solicited, asked begged bullied for change.
I’ve gone dancing a few times. Victoria likes its Top 40, its teenage drinking dancefloor dryhumps and asymmetrical haircuts, fat sneaks skinny jeans and hopeless screenprint collages of birds and skulls and bullet swirls.
I did manage to find the house-heads. It’s been awhile, too long, since those indefatigable, predictable but hailed, true, beats blew around me. Not me over or away—every time a song dips dark, dirty, I howl the revelation, revolution, but invariably the tone turns bright. Forgivably. But sadly I am without an industrial fix.
Yeah, so, the transit sucks, I’m bikeless, and seafaring is not a lark but a journey. I’ve been to the water but once.
But I enjoy myself. I love the houses, the mosses, the impending spring everyone keeps promising me’s amazing. There is plenty to take my hand and shove.
So how do you watch a lunar eclipse? You take the tripod inherited from your new roommate in the city you know hardly a soul in and set up outside in the dead-end street courtyard and suddenly you’re part of the show.
You must be here for the moon.
We’re all here for the moon.
What about that phone pole, how’s that working for you?
Not working so well, thank you.
I thought it was supposed to turn reddish and brown.
And so Victoria strangers chat me up. Shoot me down. I make the mistake, apparently, of not reviewing or learning anew everything scientifically culturally humanly possible about eclipses, lunar and solar, planetary alignments in general, telescopes, time zones, and high-powered lenses, stellar phenomena and the forecasted skies of every city you can name in North America, go! You should also make this mistake.
People bike past and nod, stroll by and smile, tumble from their houses and shout where is it, tripod woman! Show us the waaaaaaaaaay!
I show them the way.
I twist the camera dial until dark is brought to light and the lights burn too bright and I think about the people I love and miss in other parts of this night hundreds to thousands of miles from me but looking at the same neat thing happening and though the tripod’s purpose is for unmoving, I walk into the frame and leave my ghost.