Dearest Winnipeg, as my new hometown I felt I needed to tell you some things. I wanted to send you a love letter, a few love letters, just so others may know how sweet you are. How you're so unflashy, and so very honest. How your simplicity makes room for deep conversations. I think I may love you...but I know it's too soon. This little ode to joy is for you. Enjoy. xo
Back in March 2007, our west coast life was neatly packed up (haha - neatly. I like how much more tidy and organized my fantasy life is than my actual life) and waiting to be shipped off to the promised land called Winnipeg. I was driving in The Blube (our blue Subaru - aka The Blueberry) when DNTO played this song. I can't remember what it was, only that it moved me somehow. It got right into that little tiny cranny. Y'know: the place reserved for teenage crushes. Well, the song ended and Sook-Yin Lee said it was a hometown band, somebody called The Weakerthans (http://www.theweakerthans.org/). So I called Jay at work and told him about this great song. Now normally I'm pretty lazy and wouldn't go through all the trouble of calling, but I like to find meaning in mundane things. I thought it was a sign.
Fast forward one year later. The Weakerthans have a permanent high rating on the iPod. The Prairie Poets they're called. Lyrics so intricate, so hurtful, so impassioned, so raw, so rockin'. They speak of prairie life, of Winnipeg, of mundane existences and yearning. They speak to me. Even the kids sing along to the lyrics, they know the songs so well.
My 7-year old and I are dining at Prairie Ink restaurant. As we put our coats on I look at the table ahead of us: I gasp. My daughter senses alarm: "What, Mom? What's wrong?" I steady myself. I manage to squeak: "It's him." Poor child has no idea what I'm talking about. I am in the full throes of teenage stupor. I am looking right at John K. Samson. Front man for The Weakerthans. And not only is he in front of me, he is sitting with a friend of a friend! Yes, I have the chance to casually meet him. But I freeze. I am frozen. I am giddy. I rush my daughter past and get outside. "It was the singer from the Weakerthans!!" I gush. My daughter, though only 7 years old, proclaims: "Mom, do you LOVE him?!" Yes, I am incapable of wearing a poker face. It's all out there. I clear my throat and say "Don't be silly! Of course not." All the while feeling guilty that somehow I've just cheated on my husband of 15 years.
Flash forward to April 2009: finally our chance to see the prairie poets live. We loved every minute of it, although Jay had to endure me dancing in the aisle and shouting like an idiot. I warned him. He had to expect it.
A few weeks later, as I sat in my car waiting to turn right on to the Maryland bridge, I watched a cyclist approaching. I patiently waited. And you know the old adage about how good things come to those who wait? John K. Samson, in all his geeky glory, rode his bicycle past my car. And I swear, he looked right at me and nodded. Or winked? Yes, it's my story and I say he winked.