One Last Dance in Killarney

A couple of crows laughed back and forth. I got up and left my tent. It was around six in the morning. After brushing my teeth and taking a leak, I stood for a moment and looked around our campsite. I could hear Jon snoring up a storm. The shy, early morning light peeked through the trees. This was our second trip to Killarney Provincial Park. I was getting married in a month. In reality, this was my bachelor party, a week-long getaway with my friends. I thought about the adventures we’d had in this park, the trails and the various lakes that had washed my weariness. I thought about the fact that our week-long getaway was nearing its end. We were to pack up and head home to Toronto the next morning. Mulling these thoughts over, while the shy, early morning light caressed my face, I decided to start drinking and smoke a joint. The crows had moved further away, but were laughing still.

I started a fire and boiled some water and made myself an Irish coffee. “Final day,” I thought, sitting back in my camping chair and rolling a joint. I knew that my friends would be asleep for a while. I knew that I’d be good and drunk by the time they rose to start the day. It didn’t take long for my veins to buzz with life. Alcohol had long ago formed a river inside me. I lit the joint and exhaled my first drag toward the treetops. The smoke hovered and danced to the symphony of crackling firewood and laughing crows. I drank and smoked and stared into the fire. “I’m getting married,” I thought and closed my eyes.

From time to time, out in the wilderness, nature forces us to reflect, to look back and retrace our steps. I’d done this many times before. So many times, I’d seen the scattered stories of my life in different fire pits, or stared at a distant memory in the view of some valley. Now, in my early morning high, I thought about Katie. I thought about starting our life together. I thought about us exchanging vows in front of our families and friends. I downed my coffee and pictured Katie asleep at home, our two cats cuddled up against her feet. “Wedding in a month,” I thought.

I made another Irish coffee. “Why not..?” I thought. Everything was changing. These lightheaded moments were all fading. Soon, I’d be married. There’d be no time after this for week-long excursions into the woods. There’d be no room for Irish anything or idle cigarettes and marijuana mornings. I thought about all this as I took the heaviest drags I could off the remainder of the joint and tossed it into the fire. The smoke filled my chest and I coughed. “I will roll another one,” I thought, “Why the fuck not…?”

By the time Samir woke up and came out of his tent, I was drinking my third cup of coffee and smoking my second joint. Jon was still snoring in his tent. Samir walked over and stood next to the fire. We exchanged nods. He yawned.

“Some water left,” I said and pointed at the thermos on the bench in our mesh gazebo tent. I offered him the joint, but he shook his head.

“Too early,” he said. I leaned back and continued to smoke. “I’ll have a shot, though,” he added.

“Let’s,” I said, getting up and stretching my back. We walked to our gazebo tent. We sat down and I poured two shots of whiskey.

“Cheers,” said Samir.

“Good morning,” I replied.

The shot burned its way down. It splashed into my already drunken gut.

“So,” said Samir, staring at me.

“So…”

“Last day in Killarney,” he sighed.

“Yup,” I said, clearing my throat and reaching again for the bottle.

“Going all out, eh Ben?” said Samir, a subtle smile curving the corners of his lips.

“Last day,” I said.

We nodded and drank. He drummed with his thumb against the bench.

“What do you wanna do?” he asked.

I shrugged my shoulders and tilted my head.

“Should I wake Jon?” he said.

“I don’t know,” I replied while I lit the remainder of the joint and got up and left the gazebo tent. He followed after me. Not sure what time it was, but I was drunk; drunk enough that I felt like dancing. I stood in the middle of our campsite, my arms stretched out to my sides, caressing the air around me, as I began to sway from side to side. I danced slowly to the beat of some secret melody. When drinking, you should stand to see how drunk you are. Once you know, you should dance.

“Practicing for the wedding?” said Samir.

I smiled, but said nothing. I was dancing with the forest, with the granite cliffs of Killarney. Soon, I’d be on my way, back to the city, back to work. Soon, I’d be married. Soon, a father…A new chapter awaited my arrival. I knew that such a dance would never possess me again. I was well on my way to being a different Ben. I danced with the forest one last drunken time and listened to the crows in the distance, whose laughter would outlive us all.

 

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