Chapter Forty-Four: Two Weeks in January
A hint of earthiness filled the morning air as each new day transitioned to a colder and dimmer venue. Most evenings fulfilled their threat of rain, giving a whole new meaning to the city’s name, Waterloo. At the end of September, trees for the most part remained clothed in green while others, splashed with color, hinted at what lie ahead. Two weeks later, a riot of color suddenly appeared making my cycling to and through campus a kaleidoscopic experience. Vibrant colored leaves showered my route, pirouetting down along the invisible spiral of breezes. I loved the crunch underfoot and the unique smell associated with dried leaves and deliberately sought out their deepest gathering as I journeyed between lecture buildings. But I never looked forward to what followed, trees naked and bereft of their gaiety, scratching the gray winter sky.
During the Fall-Winter term of 1970, I lived off campus in a one-bedroom apartment which I shared with a friend. Our apartment was on the top floor of a three-story building with a balcony that faced the street. On either side of the sliding door that led out onto the balcony, he and I had set up our desk and bookshelf. The kitchen was long and narrow with a small eating area at one end. Fridge and sink were on one side and stove on the other side. The walls of the apartment were painted a boring off-white that had been carelessly applied and in need of a fresh coat. Flooring was well-scuffed parquet that was spotted with paint with a few tiles missing. Window coverings ranged from bedsheets to Canadian flags except in the living-room. In that room, above the sliding door, were hung thick red curtains with dusty uneven folds that barely spanned the door’s width. Those curtains, once undoubtedly fashionable decades ago, had ‘kindly’ been left by previous tenants.
Two days to go. And I could hardly concentrate. I hadn’t seen Sheila for two weeks. Sure, we kept in touch by phone, but it didn’t trump holding her, smelling her hair, and feeling her lips against mine. How could it? Though I had returned to Toronto every weekend, except one, since classes began, it did not take much convincing on my part for her to travel my way this time. Besides, the Toronto Varsity Blue football team, her team, was coming to town to trounce, according to her, the Waterloo Warriors, my team. She had decided to skip classes on the Friday so that she could arrive Thursday evening ahead of the rush.
“Where’s Roman?” she asked, peering into the kitchen and living-room. Though she had never met him she had heard lots about him from...