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Vignettes From My Life To The Music Of The Tragically Hip

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TRAGICALLY HIP
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The summer after grade 12, driving the family minivan, down Duckworth Street. Boots or Hearts. Harbour Drive, back through Water and George Street, if it was early enough. Pigeon Camera. Back up Portugal Cove Road, bouncing wildly over the Rennie's Mill River bridge. Blow at High Dough. Through Wedgewood Park to pick up the always-late friend. Lionized. Up Logy Bay Road into Middle Cove. Looking for a Place to Happen indeed.

Back downtown. Fifty Mission Cap --- the always-late friend with the significance, the understanding. Up Signal Hill. We are So Hard Done By. My friends, singing beautifully, products and pride of an arts high school, as we drove to the end of summer, to goodbyes before university. Courage (for Hugh MacLennan). It's ending, the night. Fiddler's Green. 38 Years Old. Wheat Kings. A friendly argument over gas money. The last friend dropped home. Clearing out the fast food detritus, before the minivan returns to a pumpkin state. We'll Go Too.

This song is all about Canada, I proclaim.

The boy I will marry. I have a surprise for you. An airline ticket. And tickets to a Massey Hall concert. Come, I miss you. I fly from to Toronto. Pigeon Camera again. His friends. I pick a fight with the boy in the upper reaches of Massey Hall, confused over the implications of accepting this gift. We make up, I fly back. Years later, I explain. He understands.

At the mall with my sister, shopping. I have a job, a credit card. I can't believe you spent that, she says. Nautical Disaster. My CDs are all scratched, I huff. I walk away with five albums in a bag. My favourite band. We listen on the way home. This is a good song, she says. Grace, Too. Later, my brother and I talk. Greasy Jungle. We don't understand. Together.

On my way to Montreal from Kingston, in a car with four law school students. We will party to techno later tonight, but in the car, I insist on Fireworks. This song is all about Canada, I proclaim. OK, says one. Let's have Poets, too.

Living in Toronto with the boy, I meet an old friend from home who shows me the city. We drive in my car towards to Scarborough Bluffs. Bobcaygeon. I haven't seen him in years. I think of him every time their voices rang with that Aryan twang.

A little later. Hunched over a stack of cases. Music at Work. Too right. Then a long time where there is no time for concerts or new albums.

And much later, my best friend and her family at a cottage with me and the boy I married. The first concert happened the night before. They opened with Boots or Hearts, I say. My god, says my friend. That is all I would need to hear. Boots or Hearts, New Orleans is Sinking, and Poets. Sometimes, she drove her family's minivan that summer.

My son home from the Toronto ritual of summer sleep-aways camp. Eleven. Mom! There's this band! Can you download Wheat Kings? I show him my song list, and we sing about his grandparent's prime ministers. Pretty things.

Let's just see what tomorrow brings.

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