We've squeezed every ounce of glory from this day, lapped it up and tucked it down to that place of favourite memories...Liam's face on the Hopper...Noa's squeal on the Log Flume...Zander's hysterical laughter on the coaster...and now, wearied and blistered, we want nothing but a gentle ferry ride to the mainland.
This should be a moment of beauty - a snapshot of sunset brilliance as sky is painted in pinks and oranges and every other happily-ever-after colour but we are part of the mob - this rolling, sweating, pulsating mob. A mass exodus of impatient people, Red Sea with no pathway for the crossing, anger boiling and body odour punctuating already tense expletives.
People forget how to be human...we are chattel...herded and folded together into an undulating horde of bruised nerves and sharp tongues. I am calm and dreaming of showering the stranger off me - they push as if it will get them somewhere, wiping their day-sweat on my dress. The air is dead. There is no movement here but the pressure from all sides as waves of contractions throb through the masses. We are a warring fetus awaiting birth and our mother is this island that groans beneath our growing agitation. Calm is my only choice. And it is a choice. And it hurts me. There is a war in my head but I smile sweetly at the woman beside me who just scrapped her sandal down my ankle. She hits me in the side of the face with a hand fan then pushes around me and ahead.
Scott is singing. People stare at him in amused disgust. He doesn't care. Just keeps singing the same few lines over and over. It's a defence mechanism. A distraction. "♩♫ ♪ My shoulder still burns where you touched me last night ♬ ♩♩♬..."
It's dark now, pierced through by periodic street lamps that cast angry shadows on shiny faces.
Behind me a four year old Indian boy is arguing with his father over the CN Tower..."but dat is not our tower! Dat is an American tower! Dat is not Canada's!"
"It is our tower. It is the same tower we always see here."
"Dat is not our tower. Dat tower is eighty feet tall. Our tower is one thousand, eight hundred and fifteen feet tall. Dat tower is red and blue and yellow. Our tower is grey."
The father doesn't attempt to explain perspective or the changing lights that turn on at night. "It is our tower." It's all he has patience for.
"We shall never come to the island on a weekend or for a festival again. This line is much too long. I do not like this. They must make more boats!"
Liam is sleeping - stretched out in the stroller - oblivious. Noa dreams against her daddy's shoulder, sticky and sun-kissed. All around us children are crying and parents are hushing and every time a boat returns there is a roaring cheer and for a moment we are one body and we rush forward in a wave of hope only to meet a wall of disappointed backs as the boat fills. We can only see the smoke stack as it pulls out into the harbour because it is now so dark and hours later than we wanted to be home.
We are almost to the bridge. It leads to the loading dock. It must be soon. I see midnight on the face of the moon. I envision the collapse of the bridge beneath the weight of so much impatience - that boiling mass of angry bodies pouring into the black water - poetic justice to the man who shoved me so hard I lost my grip on the stroller...and I, standing at the broken edge, toes hanging over, shaking my head and sing-songing to their sloshing, "Patience is a virtue..."
Noa is laid upon her sleeping brother, father's shoulder no longer able to hold. Zander sits in the dirt, wide-eyed against weariness, trying so hard to swallow his complaint.
And when it's finally our turn we trudge onto the deck with heavy feet and sleepy hearts, waning love for our fellow man, tired gratitude for the ferry-man who's working well past his scheduled hours.
And when our driveway meets our feet and three a.m. tucks us into bed I'm not cursing the people who made an ugly ending to our beautiful beginning...I am remembering Liam's face on the Hopper...Noa's squeal on the Log Flume...Zander's hysterical laughter on the coaster...and these moments were worth all of it...these are the moments that fill my camera...these are the things we will laugh about the next day...and I would do it all again...and I am astonished to discover that the little boy was right - the CN Tower is one thousand eight-hundred and fifteen feet tall.