I’m in a hotel room in Fort Nelson, BC, and I can’t sleep. It’s 22 below outside, the snow is glistening, drifting, fine space-dust beneath the streetlamps, air so cold the ground squeaks and the wind bites your fingertips with little teeth, and I can’t sleep. My craigslist ride is fast asleep, snoring, his glasses on the nightstand, the other couple that’s riding with us is out at the bar, some bar they found in the snow, in this desolate, stark aluminum bunker of a town, spread squat in a bucking sea of clumpy, stunted spruce, getting drunk, arguing. It’s hot in this hotel room. So hot I was in the other bed with just the sheet, tossing and turning. I can never sleep when it’s hot. Last night I slept in the car, we were in Prince George and I just wanted air, wanted no more blasted car heat and drying motel heat I just wanted cold clean air and a few square inches of personal space free from the shouting blank-faced humor of our driver and the charming tiresome yammering of the other riders, and it was only fifteen not twenty below so I slept in the car, curled perfect on the leather backseat in a nest of five hundred geese, dreamt gentle colorless dreams and woke a living being, free at last. But then it was back in the car and if yesterday was the honeymoon period, each of us sleep deprived, up at four a.m. to meet like secret lovers and slip across the border as the sun cut through the morning water haze, clouds, fog, all of it, talking as best we could, calling each other brilliant and lucky and high on the adrenaline of freedom, of leaving, and doing it together, as strangers, and it was all the more amazing because we were so different, then today was whatever it is that comes after the honeymoon phase, the part where you realize that you can’t stand your shipmates (and the captain, in particular, but isn’t that the way it always goes) but you’ve commited to this journey across a sea of deep winter and now you are bound to it, so help you god.
Drama on the highseas.
I am going to write more about it when I get to Alaska. For now I will type this drowsily, and once I have it out I can sleep, and put my earplugs in against the shouts of TV down the motel hall, the other guests here, for god knows why, in this place that is a living, breathing, winter, so distant and rural and sparse and yet classy, because it is canada, the grocery store full of organic produce and bulk nuts and hardy, hatless locals in fancy coats and bare fingers and shining tasteful haircuts.
And I just want to sleep outside in a snowbank, not in this horrid airless hotelroom, but it is too, too cold.