BFFs Meet Up At Last!!! (a/k/a Help! I Got Nature On Me!, a/k/a Three Bitchin' Babes)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Note: Please pay no attention to the claims of a certain leggy blonde Canadian hussy regarding the events surrounding our recent historic meeting. The poor lass is no doubt misguided due to a diet consisting of poutine, Labatt's, and maple syrup. Mine is the One True Post.

Also, neither April nor your humble blogstress harmed any polar bears, moose or koalas during our Wild Weekend, no matter what the pending lawsuits say.

You may now commence reading about our (mis)adventures. Much more to come too - soon!

Thank you!!!!

***

Well... it finally happened.

What is "it," you ask?

History, that's what.

Or, to put it differently...

This happened!!!


Yup... April & Cass finally met in person!!!

Follow below the fold for our individual takes on what was a wonderful (and much too short) get-together!!!



After far, far too lengthy a delay, which entailed overcoming somewhat less-than-impressive bureaucracies in both nations, Cassidy was finally able to venture forth from Beantown and pass through the fabled Maple Curtain to Toronto to meet her sisters in blogging, Alice and April.

It was as wonderful as you might have imagined. Leading off with her take is the lovely and talented Miss April!!!

***

Help, I Got Nature On Me!
The greatest international BFF meet up since Yalta
I will leave it up to Cassidy’s superior blogging skills to recount the blow by blow details of her visit to Canukistan. Beginning with the strip search at Canada Customs....sorry was I not supposed to mention that?

I want to deal with a couple of personal issues, the first being memory. I met up with Alice and Cassidy on Friday in Toronto. I took the GoTrain into Union Station which always brings back memories of my time working for BMO’s Cebra division on Yonge and Bloor.

The bank wasn't as exciting as my later career in automotive television but I enjoyed working in Toronto (Canada’s self proclaimed centre of the universe), the hustle and bustle...the great record stores.
Acting as tour guide, I took the girls on an alternative tour of the city with particular emphasis on my old hang out of Queen Street East. The original hipster part of the city, rich with clubs, cool clothing, book and record stores back in my day.

It was amazing how little had changed. the first stop was Kops Collectibles, my fav record store that had reverted almost completely to vinyl, where upstairs you can still listen to 45s before you buy them. I think I even recognised one of the owners as he came over to speak to us. I am positive he didn't recognise me.
vinyl hounds on the prowl



We also hit Sonic Boom and a great clothing store further down Queen called, where we discover our new favorite dress brand, StopStarring.

juke box at Sonic Boom

It was emotional returning to the place I spent my late teens early twenties. It was in the University of Toronto libraries that I would haunt the stacks for any book on transsexualism. I never found the one I that could have made a difference, Harry Benjamin’s, Transsexual Phenomenon. Instead I remained lost failing to recognise myself in the psychological texts that relegated our kind to a footnote on sexual perversion.

(here is a link to a pdf of the entire book....you're welcome.... http://www.mut23.de/texte/Harry%20Benjamin%20-%20The%20Transsexual%20Phenomenon.pdf

Mere blocks away up Spadina was Camh (the former Clarke Institute), given its prior reputation it was perhaps a good thing I never learnt of its existence back then.

 

It was as if I were travelling in time, the woman I am now walking the same streets I walked as a confused and angry young man. I remember passing by stores displaying fashions I could never dream of wearing, Like the hapless protagonist in Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five, I felt myself break loose from the moorings of time. Like the layers of an onion past and present unwound leaving me emotionally drained.

Later we would visit my former home in Huntsville, where I had first become aware of my transsexualism (of course I didn't know that term back then, all I knew was that I wanted to be a girl). I hadn’t been back since I was seven.



My heart ached for the younger me, the years of pain. I wanted to cross that boundary and tell me that I could save myself , to be brave, to live an unimaginable and seemingly impossible future.

OK back to the great international T-Central meet up. I had met Alice before when she visited to test drive a new Corvettes, so we had already bonded as sisters of blessed acceleration.




Cassidy and I have known each other for longer, dating back to the dark days of our early blogging career. Starting with frequent comments on each others posts to phone calls and endless pun filled texts we became best friends. Often we joked that we must be sisters and speculated on which parent had “strayed”.

Like any teenage girls (despite our advanced ages we are in our second adolescence, whether we want it or not) we have had our falling outs and making ups.

Because of work and family commitments I could not meet Cass at the airport, that honour went to Alice (thank you for all your driving!!!).

Cass at Toronto Airport

More suitably for our shared interest in all things retro we met at Toronto’s grandest building, Union Station on Friday morning.
 
The girls had stayed the night before at the historic Royal York Hotel across the street.
Royal York on the left....yes Toronto has regular airship service
The hotel’s Library Bar is now our headquarters for planning world domination or at least a revival of travel by airship. They make a mean grapefruit vodka cocktail. I had one and it must have been a double, I quickly spilled my guts about the terrible relationship I just ended.

For me there was no awkwardness, we were old friends....well we were even though we had never met outside the bounds of communication technology. I felt absolutely comfortable in her presence, Saturday night after a trip to the Falls and Niagara on the Lake we watched the Candy Darling documentary and stayed up till well past three am talking about everything.
Candy and Tennessee William
Sunday morning we were to leave to visit Alice’s super cool cottage in Huntsville, I spent the morning rushing around getting ready while fighting back tears. At the time I was at a loss for my emotional state. I believe now that I was upset by the prospect of facing childhood demons and that the first half of Cass’s trip was over and yes she would eventually have to leave. I wanted Her and Alice to live in the same town as me, no make that on the same street, so we could hang out all the time.
 
Kilbear Provincial Park on Georgian Bay

Alice's four cylinder Chevy II powered boat
When Alice and I said goodbye to Cass at Pearson airport I was glad I had my emotional melt down the day before. Still it was hard not to get chocked up. After I picked up my car from airport parking, Alice was kind enough to wait out rush hour traffic with me over coffee, otherwise I might had cried all the way home. Damn hormones....

The good news is that a return engagement is planned for October, stay tuned.

*****

Three Bitchin' Babes (With an Extended Cameo by B.B. Halle) Conquer Canada: A Tale of Camaraderie, Caffeine, and Apple Pie (Plus Lots and Lots of Beaver Jokes)

 Well, after Miss April's lovely introduction of me, I suppose I have to deliver the goods, don't I? (Thanks *so* much for that, bitch!)

My arrival was not, in fact, met with a strip search by Customs, I am happy to report – although there was an awkward moment. (Cass’s Travel Tip: Canada does not, as it turns out, still use beaver pelts for currency. My apologies to a thoroughly befuddled Currency Exchange clerk…)

Once I negotiated my way through Customs and figured out how to get to the main part of the airport (signs in Canada are… unique, I discovered, or, in this case, non-existent), I was thrilled to be met by Alice. Being vertically challenged by comparison (I’m 5’-7.5”), I had to stand on my tippy toes to take part in our long-delayed hug. lol It was worth it though; she is a great hugger!

It was wonderful to meet her in person at long last, so much so that the exhaustion I felt (I was up until 3:00 AM the night before packing, for reasons somewhat beyond my control) dissipated, although my creaky voice belied just how tired I was.

As the visit’s unofficial Designated Driver (I second April’s heartfelt thank you!), Alice gave me a quick guide to various Toronto highlights we passed on the way to our hotel.

As April noted, at Alice’s suggestion we had booked a room at the Royal York Hotel. Upon entering the ornate lobby (it took my breath away, quite honestly), we knew we had chosen wisely and found a home that was a reflection of our collective glamour and refined tastes. The fact that I tripped on the way to check in no doubt went unnoticed, dazzled as the other guests understandably were to be in our presence.

 We managed to make it relatively unscathed to our room, although we made the unwise decision to take the stairs; the condition of the stairwell declined in direct proportion to our ascent. We somehow wound up in what seemed to be an abandoned maintenance area, at which point we decided that there was much to be said for modern conveniences such as elevators after all.

Finally we reached our destination – but not before we snapped photos of ourselves basking in our surroundings:


The desk clerk had very kindly given us a room with what she promised was a spectacular view; she did not lead us astray, as you can see:



Once we managed to tear ourselves from the hypnotic lights of the CN Tower, we returned to the lobby for a late dinner at the Library Bar. As April mentioned, the Library Bar lives up to its name: dark, but not too dark, with elegant, wood-paneled walls, a cozy ambience, and comfortable tables. And as the name would suggest, books were everywhere, even on the windowsill next to the table where Alice and I were seated.

Not having eaten since the morning (nearly 14 hours earlier), I devoured the entire bowl of peanuts and pretzels our waiter brought us before poor Alice could snag even a handful. Having temporarily done away with the hunger tremens, I celebrated being on holiday by actually ordering – gasp! – alcohol.

As a self-confessed lightweight - the only hangover of my entire life resulted from consuming approximately 1.5 bottles of beer - this was a rare occasion (as in my first in a year). But I chose wisely: I ordered a Mill Street Royal Stinger Honey Beer, made with honey collected from the bees in the aviary atop the hotel itself. It was absolutely wonderful – so much so that I almost finished it. Almost. (A girl’s got her reputation to think of, after all. :D)

After a yummy meal, we retreated to our room. We needed our beauty rest, after all, for Friday was the big day: Miss April would be gracing us with her presence, and we would meet for the first time in person.

After what turned out to be the only less-than-wonderful meal the following morning ($30 for two bagels and coffee?!?!), we checked out and crossed the street to the spectacular Union Station, where April would be arriving after taking the train into the city. Her arrival was delayed slightly, but before we knew it her train had arrived.

And then… she was there. While a commemorative plaque is certain to be in place already - to be joined by a statue of appropriate grandeur in short order – we were unable to detect the paparazzi who were snapping away to document the historic moment. Accordingly, Alice took it upon herself to preserve the big moment:


(Again, note me on tippy-toes…)

After three years of email, texts, phone calls, appallingly bad puns, and more dirty (OK, filthy) jokes than you can possibly imagine, we were together at last. April is even more beautiful in person than in her photos (I know, how is that even possible???), and just as sweet (and funny) as you would expect.

Like April, I too felt instantly comfortable, with none of the (understandable) awkwardness one might expect at first; it was as if we’d known each our entire lives – all 29 years each of them. (No comments from the peanut gallery…)

Kidding aside, it was remarkable, to the point that Alice commented on it to me several times during my visit. April and I found ourselves finishing each other’s sentences, laughing uproariously at the same jokes as we watched favorite episodes of Archer, exchanging ever-more-ribald jokes, and generally behaving like, well, a couple of teenaged girls. (Puberty has its good points, it turns out!)

I must at this point salute poor Alice. She not only drove mind-boggling distances during our time together, but she endured hour after hour in a car with two ditzy chicks looking to see who can make the stupidest joke or the most stomach-churningly bad pun possible. (The result: a tie, of course.) She was her genial self throughout, however, for which both April and I are eternally grateful. How she managed to endure is a testament to the eternal good nature that seems to be part and parcel of being Canadian.

We spent Friday exploring Queen Street East, as April noted. Not surprisingly, we spent a considerable chunk of time in record shops, given that all three of us are music fanatics. Alice made some terrific purchases (an Everly Brothers compilation highlighting their criminally underrated Sixties output, a Sixties Motown anthology, and a wonderful Ry Cooder live show from the mid-Seventies that I personally vouched for), while I limited myself to a single disc, the Grateful Dead’s Live/Dead album. (I kept threatening April with playing it the entire visit; along with fusion jazz, it seems I have discovered her personal Kryptonite.)


I must confess – I wasn’t aware of the turmoil April experienced during our time on Queen Street East, nor in Hamilton. That said, I understand it very well. It was the reason I moved as far away from Boston as soon as I possibly could. While I’ve since returned, for reasons it took me some time to fully understand, I too feel the same storm of emotions every time I pass through my hometown – something I do as little as possible, quite frankly.

After years of therapy, and with the insight that comes from finally living the life I was supposed to live all along, I can look back at the lonely, frightened boy I was and put his struggles in their proper perspective.

The intensely painful feelings he experienced – of anger, confusion, shame, fear, and self-hatred – are still present, albeit to a somewhat lesser degree, every time I’m forced to spend any time at all there. It is a similar experience on the increasingly rare occasions when I visit my parents in the house where I grew up, There, the ghosts of my unhappy childhood and adolescence are almost palpable, to the point of being nearly overwhelming at times.

However, as he recedes into the past, and I continue to lose my connection with him, I can now appreciate the tremendous courage, strength, and determination he showed in protecting me – us – for all those years the best he possibly could. As M, my therapist once noted, that was all he could do. It’s all any of us can do. I can see that now.

I am no longer ruled by the feelings and experiences he endured. But when the time is right, I will put them, and the places and things that remind me of them, where they belong – in my rearview mirror, both physically and emotionally. For the time being, however, I’m still in Boston –where I came from, but not where I call home.

I told both Alice and April that Toronto instantly joined a very short list of places where I instantly felt I belonged, along with Newport RI and Seattle (and to a lesser extent, Vancouver BC, which I think of in tandem with Seattle). I knew it as soon as we arrived in downtown Toronto, and that sense of being home became more and more pronounced as my visit progressed. I lived in both of those cities, and I would move to Toronto in turn in an instant if the opportunity presented itself. We shall see what the future holds, won’t we?

Back to the trip. :c)

We spent Saturday visiting Niagara Falls, which were as spectacular as I had been told they would be. I’d visited the American side several times in the past, but, impressive as those are, they pale in comparison to the grandeur of the Canadian side. Not only was it a Saturday, it was Independence Day in the colonies (as April refers to the States), so it was even more crowded than it normally would be. That said, it was not at all unpleasant; even the sometimes-surly Americans, who at times make me cringe, were on their best behavior. It must be something in the water…

Just like Marilyn

As you can see from the following photos, we had a lovely time together (including my favorite photo of the entire trip):



On the way home, we stopped off in Niagara on the Lake, a lovely little town that reminded me a great deal of Newport (that is high praise, btw). Working on a tip from the lovely Halle (more on her to come), we paid a visit to Cows, an ice cream shop/shrine to all things cow-related. As regular readers of my blog know, I have, well, a bit of a thing for cows. OK, a big thing. :D

As soon as we walked in the door, I was in bovine heaven, much to the wonder of April and Alice. The following gives some indication of just how excited I was to be there:



After several minutes, the girls realized they needed to stage an intervention, lest I drain my bank account and run up my credit cards purchasing all of the cow-related goodies I could possible conceive of. With much cajoling, I finally departed with enough to temporarily slake my endless thirst for all things bovine:



After our return, as April noted, we watched several episodes of Archer with Alice, who sensibly decided to call it a day. April and I, however, being inveterate night owls, adjourned to the next room, where we watched the deeply moving documentary about Candi Darling, who was part of Andy Warhol’s Factory in the Sixties/early Seventies. (She is the Candy who “came from out on the (Long) Island” to whom Lou Reed refers in “Walk on the Wild Side,” incidentally.)


We then stayed up until nearly 3:30, just… talking. Again, it felt as if we’d been doing so all our lives. I’ve since told my therapist that the comfort and familiarity we felt was remarkable, especially when you consider we had never met in person until the day before. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced in my, er, 29 years. ;D Call it what you will… I’m just very happy April is a part of my life. :c) (That goes for Alice, too!)

On Sunday we drove up to Alice’s cottage in Huntsville, where, as April noted, we paid a visit to her childhood home. April was clearly more emotional than usual that day, although I was unaware of the cause at the time. The current owners were a lovely young couple; it was nice to see that April’s former home – which was lovely, by the way – was in such good hands.

We then headed into town to pick up several apple pies that Alice had ordered from a local restaurant for our arrival. Both April and I adore apple pie, but graciously allowed Alice to have a slice (a small one) while we wolfed down several slices each as we watched yet more episodes of Archer. Alice suggested we watch the first episode of Sense8, a TV series developed by the Wachowskis (of The Matrix fame) airing on Netflix.

One of the characters, Nomi, is transgendered, and is played by Jamie Clayton, who herself is transgendered. I plan to write a separate post about the show, but I can say that her storyline in the first episode hit very close to home. Quite honestly, I had some difficulty following the show at first; there are eight main characters, each of whom was introduced in the initial episode. In addition, there was a great deal of whispered dialogue I found difficult to pick up, enough so that I was certain I missed several key moments.

While I wasn’t able to totally grasp the entire episode, I was intrigued enough to re-watch the first episode again when I returned home. It made much more sense this time (thank goodness for headphones!), and I was hooked before the episode had ended. I’m working my way through it, and am thoroughly enjoying it.

On Monday, my last full day, we ventured off once again, this time to meet up with Halle, who was vacationing with her lovely wife J. The ride to the campground where they were staying was a difficult journey for me, as it turned out; I’m prone to carsickness, and I had what was easily the worst case of it I’ve ever experienced on the ride to Parry Sound. When we pulled over to a rest stop so I could get out of the car, I nearly collapsed when I stepped out; fortunately Alice was there, and managed to catch me as my knees buckled.

After sitting outside for ten minutes, I felt well enough to stand up. I gingerly made my way inside, where Alice and April were sitting. I had a sudden craving for, of all things, a chocolate milk shake, something I NEVER would have ordinarily. Clearly my blood sugar must have been alarmingly low. (I’d only eaten a slide of toast for breakfast, which clearly wasn’t enough.) Alice kindly purchased one for me; after a few sips, I had yet another craving for something I never eat: a cheeseburger. This time April was good enough to pick one up for me. By the time I finished it, I felt much better. For the rest of the ride, and for the remainder of my visit, I rode in the front; those trips in the back clearly do not agree with me!

Alice doing all the driving

Canadian road food, bbq chips and Timbits
The trip was worth it once we arrived and got to meet Halle and J for the first time. Alice calls me her “little pixie” all the time lol, but now notes that J, too, is also a pixie. Halle was every bit as lovely as I’d expected from corresponding with her for several years, and J was equally lovely. After a relaxing walk along the beach – a task undertaken with some reluctance, but ultimate good cheer, by April, an inveterate city girl. (I jokingly titled the following photo “Help! I got nature on me!”)


All too soon, our visit was at an end. We travelled into town and had dinner at a terrific restaurant adjacent to the Bobby Orr Museum, which was to be one of the places I hoped to visit during my trip. Alas, it was closed on this day, but we did manage to get a photo of me in front of it:


Like the Hockey Hall of Fame, which we were unable to visit on Friday due to time constraints, I will simply visit on a future trip.


On Tuesday, the last day of my visit, we went out on Alice’s boat and toured the local lakes. Overcast when we started, the rain began in earnest during our return trip. The entire ride back to Pearson Airport took place in a torrential downpour, one that only increased in intensity as we grew closer to the city.


I will confess: saying goodbye to Alice and April was incredibly difficult. I barely managed to keep my composure while passing through Customs. The struggle must have been obvious, for the final Customs agent reached out and touched my arm as I gathered my belongings.

“Are you OK, hon?” she asked, flashing me a kindly, sympathetic smile.

“No,” I managed to say, barely in control.

“The ladies room is just around the corner to the left, sweetie,” she said, giving my arm a squeeze.

“Thank you so much,” I choked out.

I just barely made it to the restroom before the floodgates opened, after which I cried for ten minutes straight without stopping. Damn hormones indeed… :c)

The entire trip – all five days of it – was over in a flash. It was even better than I could have possibly hoped. I cannot wait for my return visit in October, when our adventures will continue. I’m already working on doing my part to make it even better the second time around. More to come!!!

7 comments:

Alice Broule on November 3, 2015 at 9:44 PM said...

This is a lovely recounting of your visit Cassidy. It was so nice to meet you finally in person. You are still my favorite little pixie.
I had the greatest time with you and April while you were here. And I'm looking forward to many mory visits back and forth with you.
Love, -alice

Alice Broule on November 3, 2015 at 9:53 PM said...

And I must also comment that the Lou Reed video is amazing too.Such rare film footage of Holly, Candi, and Jackie. Forever a classic tune.

Halle on November 4, 2015 at 8:52 AM said...

Thank you for this travelogue with a difference, to you and April both Cassidy! That afternoon with the three of you stands out for me, of course, as the most lovely day of J and my time at Killbear.
I too am looking forward to your future visits and, dare I hope... Toronto is a wonderful place isn't it? :)
Big Hugs, Halle

Unknown on November 7, 2015 at 8:02 AM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer McCready on November 7, 2015 at 8:07 AM said...

I love you I love you I love you,! 
I am so so so so so so so so so so happy I met you three! Can you tell I'm not a woman of words, but a woman of heart?

Diana Nicole B on November 22, 2015 at 6:41 AM said...

i am sooo glad you got together with April. somehow i lost her bolg site and have lost touch with her. sine she if i remember was also a car buff it was good communicating with her and miss doing so.
if you get chance could you e mail me her link to her blog site if she still has it up and running.
hugs diana

Cassidy on November 22, 2015 at 7:49 AM said...

Hi Diana!

Thank you, hon. It's always great when we get together (yes, plural). It's as if we've known each other forever. :D ��

And at long last, here issue link to Miss April's blog:

http://myroadredux.blogspot.ca/

I know you've asked several times, and I'm sorry it took me so long, hon. Happy reading!

Hugs,
Cass

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