Sunday, September 13, 2009

RIDING LIGHTLY AS THE WORLD TURNS

I started writing this blogpost late on Saturday night (despite the date on this post, it's now Monday the 14th).  Jon and Lillian (Ian's parents) had driven in from Grey County, getting here at about eleven in the evening.  They were bouncy still, so we went out for a walk in the warm night air.  Being out late on a Saturday night, watching the young people in couples and groups out on the street, led me to think about the Saturday night date, and all the hope and expectation and fear and worry that can go along with it, especially when we're young.  So when I got back in I stayed up late writing, and this is how I began:

"Here it is, Saturday night, the big night of the week, especially for young people, for heavy dates and taking risks and feeling free of the daily round.  I remember in February of first year university finding my roommate Nancy sobbing in our room one evening.  There she was, eighteen years old and a great person, attractive and popular, but in pieces.  Why?  Well, the tragedy was that for the first time since grade nine she had no Saturday night date. 

I was amazed, stunned is perhaps more accurate.  My high school life had been quite different from hers, almost date-free until the middle of my second-last year, and then once again date-free in my graduating year.  And now when I look back, all that social effort and worry on Nancy's part feels so imprisoning.  I was just an out-of-it kind of high school student, tall and awkward, so I never felt particularly entitled to a date, if you know what I mean.  And I'm grateful now not to have grown up too fast, not to have felt the huge pressure to be socially successful in high school, with all the attendant pressures (that I barely guessed at at the time) to be sexually active...

The Toronto International film festival (TIFF) is on right now, and yesterday I saw a very strong film called My Teheran for Sale which tells a story set in modern Teheran, amongst the young people, in their twenties, whose generation has been lost, squeezed out by the repressiveness of the current regime.  They go to illicit parties and make and listen to underground music, and develop plays and other theatre, and if they are caught are subject to imprisonment or whippings.  It's horrible.  And yet what is wonderful is the will to take the risks in order to try to live fully.  There's a sense of vitality that is irrepressible and heartening.  And this despite the hardships suffered by individuals as they struggle to breathe and expand their horizons, despite the regime.  Do see it if you can.

And on another topic, last Wednesday the guys all started classes.  A good friend, who is staying with us temporarily, was also due to start her first full day in the classroom this term (she's a high school math teacher) on Wednesday.  So I said I'd cook supper Tuesday night.  I bought a blade roast from Gerald at the Trinity Bellwoods market, and some yellow and green beans and two heads of vigorous romaine.  I got back from the market to find extras, good friends of the guys, who seemed pleased to stay for supper, so instead of cutting a steak off the roast and freezing the rest, I cut it into three steaks and grilled them all (over charcoal, on the domed  Weber, so simple and good).  

There were eight of us, in the end, and we almost licked the platter clean!  What a treat that meat was, freshly butchered, never frozen, and from a grass-fed cow raised in Grey County, two hours north of here.  I sliced it then dressed it in the usual Thai salad way with lime juice, fish sauce, some minced chiles, sliced shallots, and lots of fresh basil and mint (no coriander leaves on had).  We ate it with rice, the lightly cooked beans, and a huge salad.  And we all agreed that the meat was spectacular.

Tonight it was Ian's turn to cook, so he started early.  By late afternoon there was a huge batch of chocoalte chip cookies (he used good baking chocolate chopped up) and a skillet cake on the counter, keeping company with the Cretan biscotti he'd made two days ago.  And then for supper he cooked a huge stack of fresh corn (three cobs each), tender green beans I'd bought today from Ted Thorpe at the market, a cucumber salad (dressed with shredded shiso and mint, some Malden salt, and a little cider vinegar), and organic bacon from Grey County.  Everything tasted of itself, and it made us all so hungry!"

All that was all written on Saturday night.  Now it's Monday evening and in between we've had the most spectacular hot bright days and clear limpid nights with star-strewn midnight-blue skies.  Lovely!  I saw a wonderful experimental full-length documentary on Sunday morning, the film Jon and Lillian had come here to see, made by Phil Hoffman, a friend from Grey County who teaches film at York University.  He's a lovely guy, and very well respected too, by his peers.  The film is called "All Fall Down" and it was entrancing and sobering, beautiful, both its images and its soundscape, and also haunting.  And when the lights came up afterward, there were a bunch of people from Grey County, all delighted to have seen Phil's film.  It was such a pleasure to see them all in that unfamiliar place, a fairly alienating cinema complex...

Later I went with another friend to a documentary about a dynamic and extraordinary pair of performers from New Zealand, legends in their own time, called the Topp Twins.  They are so free, so themselves in every situation, and so creative and funny and serious, all at once.  A rarity at TIFF, the audience stood and cheered at the end of the film, so exhilarating was it.  

And tonight as I whizzed (well, it's all relative, but I was rushing along on my bicycle) through the warm night air, coming home from a Women's Culinary Network meeting, I had time to realise how lucky I feel these days.  This time last year I hadn't thought of getting out on a bicycle in the city.  And now it's getting to be second nature to head out on my red Diamond Back, a bike that I rode from Kashgar to Gilgit 23 years ago, yikes! and that I am absurdly attched to and sentimental about.  I fear theft, as any cyclist in Toronto does, but I feel so much more confident now out on the street, even in rush hour.  Yes, I will be careful, I AM being careful, helmet and all, but oh, the freedom!  It's just wonderful: autonomous and light as air.

1 comment:

Morag Johnston said...

Glad you joined us cyclists! I was thinking of you just today and wondering how you're doing. It sounds like things are going well.