Yikes. When I first took these shots at Aboriginal Days back in June, I was immediately
disappointed – but there were about a million reasons for that which I will explain.
When I got them up on my computer though, everyone in the newsroom loved them, and they were slated for the front page. I wondered what the hell they were seeing that I wasn’t, because all I could attach to these shots was the totally horrible, awful dreadful day I was had on that June 22.
You see, June 22 is my birthday. I turned 24, and while I should have been in a fabulous mood – I was armed with a camera at an event guaranteed to turn out something spectacular – I had the worst flu I had probably ever had in all my 24 years. My day had started at exactly 4 a.m., minutes before my alarm went off. I was on a mission. I felt sick, but still functional when I rolled out of bed and headed out the door.
My mission, you see, was to score tickets to Bob Dylan’s concert in Cranbrook that had been announced that Monday. I had originally been unimpressed about the thought of getting in line by 5 a.m. for Dylan tickets, but it soon became clear that a list of seven people were counting on me to secure theirs along with mine, so there I was, headed to Cranbrook in darkness, coughing, weezing and sneezing the whole 32-kilometre drive.
I would be in good company. The entire Townsman editorial team was also in line. Our editor and sports editors had been there since 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. respectively, the previous day. They were at the front. When I arrived with the Tim Horton’s, everyone was happy to see me. It was a wonderful array of people – from old ’70s rockers to hipster teens.
We were let into the Recplex at 5:30 a.m. to wait on the cold concrete of the concourse. I tried to sleep, but unable to do so with so many strangers around I made friends with those around me and Skyped with Josh on the floor. I mostly complained. My head was pounding and I had swallowed about six pain killers and cold pills by that point to bring me to about 7 a.m. Only two hours to go till the box office opened. I read, and finally at 9 a.m. the line started to move. I got my tickets, all eight of them in a primo spot, and headed groggily back to the office.
I received a hero’s welcome, and my publisher spotted me right away, exhausted, colourless and jittery from the caffeine. She directed me to have a nap in the breakroom until my afternoon assignment. Living in Kimberley, there was no reason to go home.
The only problem was, it was my birthday, and all my friends were eager to wish me a happy one, not let me sleep. I rested my eyes for a few minutes before I got a call from my best friend. We chatted the remainder of the time before I had a lunch date with my friend Montana. My face by this point had started to turn a little green.
I worried a bit, ordering food with an upset stomach, but Montana treated me with a Coke float, which soothed it a bit. We’d been trying to get together forever, so this was a date I couldn’t and didn’t want to miss. She listened to my woes, gave me a Montana-style pep talk, and I was ready to face the day again, somewhat.
My first assignment was to chat with the St. Mary Band about their new school and get a tour of the ongoing construction. I developed a new symptom: I started profusely sweating as my fever broke. I crammed a hard hat onto my head, and followed along, barely able to even talk. My voice cracked and at times nothing came out at all. I wished I could have written out my questions for my tour guide, Michelle, but she sympathized and talked for me. I was thankful for a great interview, that’s for sure.
Off I went to Aboriginal Days. The event was delayed due to rain, but I spotted a Ktunaxa elder and a young Japanese exchange student constructing a teepee. Bingo. There was my shot. As I walked up, the elder indicated he wanted to go listen to the preceedings at the stage. There went my shot….
By this time, my flu was baring down on me like a lioness, or perhaps a Great White Shark. My hair was soggy, I was cold, felt nauseous and had no idea when another photo op would come up. I felt myself getting sicker and sicker. My joints ached, my head throbbed, my stomach hurled like a washing machine.
I felt my cellphone ringing in my pocket. It was my Dad. The floodgates opened.
I never lived with my dad during my teenage angsty years, so his ability to handle me when I’m an emotional wreck is limited. Don’t get me wrong, my Dad is a wonderful man and father, but the sound of his now 24-year old daughter bawling her eyes out on the end of the phone line made him want to run for the hills. He wished me a happy birthday, told me to take a deep breath and get my photos and get the hell out of there to bed. He promised me he had gifts waiting for me when I got home. I had a new mission.
The speeches were wrapping up, so I hung up the phone and trudged across the rain-soaked lawn where the teepee making was starting up again. I managed to snap my shots, and although disappointed the other events hadn’t started up yet, I cut my losses and went home.
After a two hour nap, I patched myself up and went out to my Mom’s friend’s house for dinner, displaying the Bob Dylan tickets that I had so earned.
I spent the remainder of my birthday curled up on the couch under a blanket, wishing it wasn’t my birthday so I didn’t feel obligated to celebrate. Mom told me I owed the world nothing, so I sipped slowly at a bottle of wine and was in bed by 10 p.m.