July 18, `80
I cleaned up my bike as soon as I arrived In Saskatoon (gasoline the
running gear, apply new oil, check for loose screws, etc.), and then I
went to the laundry mat. On the phone, Jean said, “Sure, I’ll buy you
a beer.” When I went to her restaurant and drank my first beer, she
agreed to go to a movie with me. After a few more beers, I left and
went back to the YMCA, which, for me, was substituting for the youth hostel.
After that, I bought tickets for the 8:30 p.m. showing of The Empire
Strikes Back, and met Jean at the theater. We had a half-hour to kill,
so we went for a walk.
We got along pretty well, but Jean didn’t like the movie. She wasn’t
into Star Wars. Afterwards, we went for a beer, and at the first hotel
last call had already come and gone, but at the second one we got
served. In Saskatchewan there was no set time for “last call.”
I already knew Jean to be, from our conversation back on the train,
pretty damn independent. She was twenty-six years old, had just quite
a good government job (she said temporary jobs gave her more freedom),
and was in the process of selling her house in Prince Albert (a
relationship gone bad I guess, but she didn’t want to talk about it). She
had also made up her mind to join her wilderness girlfriends who were
homesteading on the Pacific coast. “You never had to worry about
mortgage payments,” she said, “Of course, there wasn’t any plumbing
and you had to expect 240 days of rain a year, but you got use to it.”
I always considered myself a nature lover, but a Paul Bunyan I am not.
I asked her if the girls ever got lonely living like that and she
said, “Oh, there’s men, but they come and go, and that’s fine.” I
wanted to walk her home after the bar, but she wouldn’t have any of
that, so we hugged and I said “goodbye.” She hollered back at me that
she would write.