On Wednesday morning in Mish, I wrote in my journal:
August the 6th, Wednesday--what we laughingly call "hump day" at work (the day you reach the "hump" or the middle of the week--and once over it, everything is running downhill towards a resting time!)
By the end of that day though, I was just so tired, it may have been "hump day" but it felt like I was stuck on the hump.
I had been up with the dawn after maybe 5 hours sleep, in order to have some precious solitude. We had a full day of our regular activities, then the community bbq and the dance.
It was about 10.30 when the dance ended. The dark parking lot was full of people leaving the community centre. Our weary team packed up our coolers; the food that was left; the pots; bbq and the cotton candy machine and set about getting the equipment and the 9 of us that had been at the dance, back to the school.
My little Honda Fit was more than a little worn with wear. It was covered in the sand that works its way into every crevice of every thing on Sandy Road, and I noticed that the back windshield wiper was hanging down, loose. The car looked like I felt.
A woman with two boys approached asking for a ride home. People on the reserve mostly walk everywhere as few people have cars. My car was packed with stuff to take back to the school, and Paul was in the passenger seat. I couldn't bring myself to refuse the request so I said I would come back to pick her up once I emptied the car. But when we came back to get her, she was nowhere to be seen.
I got out and moved to the passenger seat so that Paul could drive back. He drove carefully as the sides of the unlit road were dotted with wandering dogs and people walking home, alone or in groups.
Once we got back there was still the clean up of our coolers and other equipment so that it would be ready for the next day. At that moment, with my feelings not my finest, it was best to be quiet.
And really, I felt so lonely for Paul. The trip had been a heavy load for him; starting with the many details of coordination ahead of time; driving the 24 foot truck in the city of Toronto the day before we left, picking up donations, then going to the church and helping to pack it, with a team of volunteers. We drove in separate vehicles, and once we arrived we were both busy separately and I was just one of the rest of the team.
At the beginning of the week in Mish I saw that our focus on the trip was not "us" but others; but I was missing him.
Of course he would not have known that by my silence on the journey back to the school. And when we unloaded the stuff in the kitchen and we all worked at cleaning up, we interacted awkwardly.
It was after he left to go to the classroom he shared with the other men, that I picked up the small gift he had given me that afternoon when he came back from a trip to Pickle Lake. I had been busy in the kitchen and he had held it out, saying with a smile, "This is something to hang in your car."
Now Paul is the one who hangs things in his car; things dangling from my rear-view mirror distract me. I hadn't really looked at it properly when he gave it to me, just said a quick thank you.
But now I looked at it. And when I did...well, I clearly saw "us." I felt loved by it, no matter how unlovable I felt at that moment.
And it helped me get over the hump of selfishness and self absorption.