I come in peace

August 17, 2011

90 mph


West bound.


Out of Montreal, it’s 1:14 AM


I had journeyed from Ottawa to a small bar on Rue St Denis to make peace.


Now I was on my way back with peace in my heart.


I went to tie back a thread that had first been hand picked and woven in 2008.  And life happened.   Hers, mine, his, theirs… I did not want to leave the misunderstandings that had been coloring the truth, live on, the anger and the emotionalities I did not want them to rule the future.  Who am I to think I can change the color of things?  But I am an artist am I not?  So I can at least try…


There is always a sense of unreality when I land in Montreal. It’s only a Tuesday night but even on this sleepy mid-week night, nowhere else in this sleepy country can such a vibe be found.


To find myself on these streets, at this specific latitude and longitude on Beowulf… it must be a dream.  Seems like a thousand years, no, like five thousand years have poured into the vase that will contain the whole of my life since I grew up here in this province. Vague images summoned : the displaced, scared college girl…  the little girl wrinkling her nose at the polluted air after leaving her beloved fields at home…   come to think of it, I was mostly always here against my will…  Now from the height of those 50 centuries, it seems that all I can see are my mistakes.


The bike whistles and growls. I’m following the directions from the GPS, the pink ribbon glowing in the night,  turn left, turn right, then the little victory flag ; you have arrived.  I park next to a Harley Davidson, It’s 8:55 but I still pay the 25 cents for 5 minutes of parking, just in case, I don’t want to anger the parking Gods as my parking record is clean so far.  I remove my helmet, gloves, earplugs. I look across the street, here I am.

For lack of better words I told her : “I come in peace.”  Hugs. What else can be done?  Is it the correct course of action?  I don’t know.  Am I a troll brutally trampling over a flower garden?  I don’t know.  I sure hope not.   All I know is that I mean it and hopefully that it will communicate.

I watched the singers sing, the players play, the spectator spectate. I sit between two friends, fellow artists, westerners, beautiful souls. It is a balm to have them here next to me. They tie me to some sort of past, to a shared history, shared dreams. We were all upcoming, Western Canadian Francophone artists. Now we are all on different trajectories, like planets in a solar system.  Tonight we are having an eclipse, we all shine. It simply is good.


B. came over and offered me a shooter of vodka.   She came, woman of the world, both hands carrying the little glasses, each dressed with a neatly cut piece of lime.  It was a peace & love offering.  She looked so purposeful.  I had to say no, I was embarrassed to have to say no, socially it is the wrong thing to do…  her face expressed dismay.

I think of this need we have to dose the moment with alcohol.  Wrah, wrah, wrah.   Bottoms up in a righteous gesture, then a wipe of the mouth with the back of the hand, as if trying to prove something while the fire of the liquid burns the insides and nullifies the mind. I looked around trying to find takers but no one was game.  The shooter glass passed from hand to hand to hand, this without disturbing the piece of lime and landed back in her hand.  “I’m sorry.”  I said lamely.    I had to ride the 200 KM back to Ottawa I explained to her ear and through her long blond hair over the noise of the band.  I was trying to find a way to salvage the dance, but toes were already crushed.  She took the drink and disappeared in the recesses of the bar.

The night came to an end with a call and answer chorus pleading : “take your time…” a blues song about guys wanting to go too fast and girls not wanting to go fast enough. The crowd is warm, ready and lubricated. Heads are craned towards the stage, smiles float dreamily on lips, hands will clap when prompted, hips move, feet tap. The climax has been well orchestrated.


I chose that moment to use the washroom so I wouldn’t have to partake in this sing-along.  Songs containing such cliches about men and women irritate me to no end. It takes all the poetry and improvisation out of life, reducing us all to a drooling mass of horny, predictable beasts… After that, we don’t stand a chance in hell to get anywhere with any kind of grace.

90 MPH on the 417.



I do a shoulder check and I see the moon over my left shoulder.


Oh moon, oh moon… Your light is my cloak. For thousands of miles you have bestowed upon me the grace of your watchful stare. Then I remember. I am found. I am home.

It’s colder than I expected. The damp night air slowly finds it’s way through the woven fabric, the swelled polyester of the lining and the leather. I can sense the air insinuating itself in every possible crevice in my armor. I also sense the buildup of engine heat hanging around my calves. A mix of hot and cold, life and death.

I am lying on the tank, my elbows tucked in, feeling the rounded shape of the tank, loving the contact point with all my heart. I am a wind jockey. My feet on the rear foot pegs. I stay out of the stream of cold air behind my slight windshield.  My right arm slowly gets colder and colder, a spot of fog appears inside my face shield.

The miles roll under the wheels. Beowulf feels like an impregnable fortress. “She will serve you well” Zanya had told me. She was so right. This engine mounted over two wheels, charging through the night steady, unstoppable.


This road is so civilized. This night ride is a sweet, comfortable one. I remember crossing the mountains from Altadena to Lancaster through the Angeles National Forrest in the middle of the night… That too was a two hour ride… Twists, turns, ups and downs, blind curves, falling rocks, risks of flash floods, cold, wild animals, limited vision, yet impossibly magical. Every crossing was a test of my skills and instinct. It was a victory, a test of trust and teamship with the machine. It was deliverance in the night when  the warm air would hug me as I would finally hit the flats of the 14.  Unlike that, this here road is like a ribbon with a silk interface unfurling under the blue moon between evergreens that do not tower and frown over you. This is a road that leads men to believe that they are in control.
The smell of manure…  Pictures of worn wood beams painted over too many times to count. Straw underfoot. How long ago was that? I don’t know.  Blind woman in the night remembering odd particles of her past. Meaningless bits brought on by scents.


Wisps of fog.  White and confounding if only for one second.  The vegetation in the ditches is silvery white in the gleam of the headlight.  Like the playthings of fairies.  Sweet, impossibly beautiful in the dark night.


And the tarmac rolls on. The hands are light on the controls. The guitar slung over my shoulder is barely perceptible. A car. A semi. I pass them delicately. I come in peace.


Ottawa’s orange glow precedes the city. And with it, the air always warms. The exits multiply, the trees get scarcer. Funny enough, every time I see this city’s profile in the distance, I smile.  There is one slight regret : The ride is almost over.  This is so beautiful, so perfect.  Calm.  It’s almost 3 AM and there is almost no one on the streets, I can glide along unheeded.


I pull off the 417 onto Metcalfe exit, I straighten up, open the face shield and am greeted with a blast of warm damp air.  “Oh!” I exclaim and smile again. The city is giving me a warm welcome.   I get to the apartment, push the large key in the garage door opener. The brown creaky contraption sighs and grinds it’s way up and I plunge into the catacombs of the parking lot.


Written under the spell of La Lune a moon and motorcycle song from Michel Marchildon http://www.myspace.com/michelmarchildon






7 Responses to “I come in peace”

  1. If I understand your post correctly, it sounds like the peace-making might not have gone as perfectly as you’d hoped. But if the refusal of alcohol is the reason for your peace offering to not be reciprocated, then I guess maybe it couldn’t have been more perfect in the first place. The blessing is that you had the intention of making peace, and YOU made peace. Your description of your ride back to Ottawa with peace in your heart and all the years of foggy tension now behind you was a beautiful picture. Ottawa is certainly a beautiful city. I can still remember the flight in 6 years ago. What you just described was immeasurably more beautiful.

    Forrest (Seraphim)

  2. Michel Says:

    .. il est très beau ton texte.. merci.. et bonne route…

  3. mq01 Says:

    beautiful, i could feel the welcoming warm wind with your words

  4. Bob McEachern Says:

    Any updates since Aug 17th

  5. Aaron Says:

    Reading your words always takes me on a virtual ride. I can feel the wind and the temperature on my face. I know the curves you speak of on Angeles Crest hwy and I begin to lean through the curves with you. Then, eventually, your message stops and my ride is over. I feel like I am actually stepping off of my BMW or Harley after reading your post. As redundant as it sounds, I along with the rest of us Southern Californians miss you and impatiently wait for your return. Take care, be safe and hope to be riding along side you soon.

  6. Oh Aaron, it’s not redundant. I miss you all so much. Thanks for writing, it warms my heart. And… still ride with the medal on my heart.

    all my love to you and the family

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