‘Tis the season, where something about the sun’s position in the sky and the warmth of the breeze awakened something instinctual deep inside us. When it stirred, it told us it was time to get ready, as we would be going soon, embarking on a journey that would take us across the western half of southern Canada for three months, meeting amazing people, and seeing places that are at times mundane and other times majestic.
Living like 20th-century western-civilized nomads, we drifted according to a pre-planned itinerary. I cannot begin to explain the fun of living on the fairgrounds 24/7. The flashing strobe lights, the pounding subwoofers, the music from five different stereos at once, a bedtime of 4am, 20-hour workdays, the smells of BBQ and grilled onions and hamburger grease, and of course the donuts.
The donuts were responsible for all this. Donuts were all we sold. Ultimately they were very good to us.
This life is not for the faint of heart or the meek of mind. It drives you, hardens you, awakens you, stimulates you, enlightens you, and it’s the best dang childhood anyone could ask for. It’s a modernized and serious version of the concept of running away and joining the circus.
On any other given year, this would be our Departure Day, a day on which we wake up in a regular bed, shower with water from regular indoor plumbing, eat regularly cooked food from a stove or microwave, and listen to birds chirping in the trees outside in the yard, above a thermometer that reads the temperature in Fahrenheit degrees…and go to sleep in a 5th wheel on the shoulder of an interstate highway just before the border, running on nothing but limited auxiliary battery power, with a limited water supply on an audible pump from a holding tank, listening to the occasional semi truck passing by with a heavy load and a hell of a wind current. All currency has been exchanged for strange colored bills, all weather forecasts now reported in Celsius.
It’s gone now.
Although I’ve been completely off the road now for 14 years this summer, I still got to continue to live the traveling and fairground life vicariously through the rest of my family, who still went out on the road, taking the physical and psychological pounding (and enjoying it, for it is enjoyable) year after year. This will be the first year in which I do not have that luxury; my parents entered into a much-needed and well-deserved retirement.
But it never really leaves my system. I was born into this. I was bred into it. It’s part of my firmware, my hard-wiring. It has defined me, my family members, who we are, and our relationships amongst each other. It’s in my (our) blood and even after 14 consecutive years Stateside, it has never diminished and I don’t think it ever will.
What I have left now is just as precious and just as treasured: the memories, the pictures, the Facebook connections, and best of all, the lasting friendships (considered extended family, really). So whenever one of my brothers from the road posts pictures online, it brings back memories, whether I was actually at that pic’s event or not.
This year is the first year in which we are in no way connected with the business. The first year in which we don’t live like civilized nomads, ready to go, go, go. It already feels weird.
And as always, it deserves at least a partial soundtrack…here’s mine:
“Pour Some Sugar On Me” and just about anything else by classic Def Leppard
“Where the Streets Have No Name” – U2
“Rock Me Amadeus” – Falco
“The Look” – Roxette
“Joyride” – Roxette
“Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” – C+C Music Factory
“Under the Bridge” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
“I Love Rock & Roll” – Joan Jett
“It’s a Long Way to the Top if you Wanna Rock & Roll” – AC/DC
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” – Tears For Fears
“One In a Million” – Romantics
“You Might Think” – Cars
“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” – Cyndi Lauper
“Carnival of Sorts (Box Cars)” – REM
“Highway to Hell” – AC/DC
“Let the Day Begin” – The Call
“One Way or Another” – Blondie
“Around the World” – Daft Punk
“Everything For Free” – K’s Choice
“Runnin’ Down a Dream” – Tom Petty
I’m sure I’ll add more as I remember them.
Note: The picture above is of a night at the Calgary Stampede in full swing. I’m not sure which year it was taken, but I’m guessing 2012, as that was a busy year and the fairground layout is consistent with that of 2012. You can indeed see a tiny snippet of one of our trailers – it’s the red roof corner on the very left side of the picture.
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