The Canadian years, 14, Monday rituals

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Tuesday 18 November 08:59


Monday rituals


It was still dark, through the skylights in the basement came the faint glow of the lamp post outside. I looked at my watch it was almost time to get up. I had slept very poorly. The house was new and had its own sounds, creaks and other indefinable sounds which fade away during daytime, but stand out at night, vulnerable as you lie in your bed in new surroundings. Add to that the fact that the 14th street was a busy thoroughfare and that our house was close to the big intersection with traffic lights. The intersection of 14th Street and 5th and 6th Avenue, which were really near us. A major North American city never sleeps and at night sounds are magnified. The sound of continuously accelerating and decelerating vehicles carried away in the freezing cold and was now very clear. After a few weeks it would seem quiet because your brain would filter sounds away that were normal, and just as residents next to a railway track do not hear  a train or tinkling bells, I could have sworn after two weeks that I slept in a quiet neighborhood, where silence reigned the night. The human mind is a wonder, in this aspect.

My brother was lying in a bed, a few feet from me sleeping and snoring away the sleep of the innocent. I put the light on above my bed. You could not fault the basement, it was nice and warm because of the large boiler, which at night spread a delightful warmth. Now I swung out of bed and immediately my head filled itself with worried feelings, ‘what would the new school be like?’ I hated to always  be new somewhere. I was ‘the new kid in town’.  Like the traffic that could be pushed away, I knew from experience that I would not know any better within two weeks. There was a sink in the corner, not a modern one like you see in bathrooms, but then it was a cellar, so you only wanted something functional in a place that would be rarely visited. I suspected that the tap hanging above a trough-like fixture was meant to fill the boiler at times. The bulb on the ceiling hovered above my head and I looked at the piece of old mirror above it, cracked and ancient. Below the mirror was a wooden plank screwed against the wall and there in a cup, was my toothbrush.


I brushed my teeth and peed in the trough and let the water run briefly, I suspected that my brother would do the same, the bathroom toilet was upstairs. I gave myself a chicken wash and got dressed. I was wondering how my day would go. I sat on the edge of my bed, to put my boots on.’ Hey,’ I said to my brother while I put my foot in the narrow opening. ‘It's time to get up.’ ‘You talk too much,’ my brother replied,’ leave me alone’.’ It really is time’, I insisted.’ I will decide that for myself’, he said and turned around. ‘Allright’, I replied,’ you know best’ and walked away towards the stairs. It was a staircase of wooden steps, you could just barely call it a staircase. It came out into the kitchen, I stuck my head under the tap and took a sip of water. ‘Do not drink from the tap,’ the voice of my father came bellowing out. My father was reading in the living room. ‘Holy cow’. I thought,  ‘control was total’, how had he known that I had been drinking from the tap?’ The realization came at once, he had heard my boots stop in the kitchen and he had not heard me open the cabinet, nor had he heard ringing of glass against other glass. ‘Yes, Dad’, I replied,’ sorry’. He had probably slept poorly himself.


‘You can start clearing snow,’ continued my father's voice, ‘only up front, because behind, it is only cars driving through the alley’. I put on my coat and a horrible cap that made me resemble the famous Pooh bear and went out to safeguard our family against lawsuits, caused by broken legs of fellow Calgarians, lawsuits that I would prevent now.  I went hard against it, because it was bitter cold and I just wanted to warm up inside, before it was the time to go to school. A few drops of sweat formed on my forehead. The wind with an icy cold rush would cut your breath away.’ Phew’, I was at the end of 'our' sidewalk. With a satisfied feeling I walked back over the cleaned sidewalk and stepped into the warm kitchen where my oldest sister was preparing breakfast. It was a sweet and caring sister, she had always taken me into protection and she was like a second mother to me. She had just made some toast ready for me and put a cup of tea down.

‘ I have prepared some sandwiches for you,’ she said. She was such a loving caring person’ Hey,’ she said, as she took me into consideration’, you have ice on your forehead.’ The sweat had frozen solid and when it came loose  I had three blisters there. I had just learned an important lesson about the climate in Alberta, you don’t mock it. You could never wet your lips as you walked outside, because then you got cracks in your lips, and if you were sweating, the sweat would form blisters. I thanked my sister and moved over our clean path to the sidewalk, into the white world, towards Queen Elizabeth highschool.

San Daniel 2014

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