Sunday, July 20, 2008
I am at the Overlander Pub in Williams Lake and it is Julien`s last night out here. The locals are out and dancing, this being a very busy saturday, and Julien`s kind of belowing. He is holding two bottles of beer in one hand, telling people how much he is going to miss them. He is a great big guy.
He first saw Jessica around two months ago coming out of a van with all of her stuff. She was late to arrive for the spring contract, shapely, with healthy skin and blond streaked hair. At first, he did not take too much notice, though his friend from home who he had come planting with, Kathi, who was getting close to Jessica in a high school mean girls kind of way talked early of how `nice` she was. It should be mentioned that Jessica, also called Jess, is the half sister of our boss, Cam.
One day, Julien and Jess talked in the van on the way to the block. Julien recalls being arrogant and talking about Quebec and separatism. He is possessed of an unusual degree of pride in what he calls the `culture` of his people, and takes great pains to make it known that despite speaking english fairly well, he is very, very french.
That day, Cam cut them into a peice together, probably thinking that Julien, his most promising rookie thus far, would motivate Jess, his sister, to plant more trees and vice versa. Jess likes to chat while she plants, and I am sure a lot of ground was covered on this day. She probably showed him a few tricks, being a second year planter, and he probably busted his ass to keep up with her. They rode home beside each-other in the van that day as friends. They are both tall and have similar proportions. They both dropped about twenty pounds over the season.
A week or so into the season they are sitting around a fire and it is the night off. People are throwing wax boxes into the fire and they smolder and burn incredibly hot for a minute pushing people away from the fire with hands over their eyes, then subside. Some of my crew are shouting CAM STEWART`S CREW 2008, which I can hear from my tent where I am lamenting my termination from Dynamic, too shy to make new friends just yet, worried about just what kind of people would yell such things. Julien asks Jess if she would like to go and watch Chappelle`s Show in the lounge tent. It is 3AM and nobody is around, and they are hammered on a couch together.
The next day Jess is crying and Julien is feeling bad. She is ashamed of herself for letting go last night, she says, and she doesn`t want Julien to think that she is `that kind of girl.` Julien is trying to console her and feeling something between guilt and pity, trying to convince her that it isn`t too big of a deal and that he still respects her. Things cool off for a while after that.
Cam gets word of the lounge tent, and starts to tease Julien a little bit. Julien knows there are eyes on him now, and is extra sensitive to Jess. They talk more, and he starts to really take to her personality. Soon they are watching films together in the lounge tent and kissing like teenagers. Soon after that they are staying in the same tent together every night. Soon after that they are kissing beside the van at the end of the day.
On the way from Fort St. James to Alberta they stayed behind to pick up the van, which was in the shop after being driven on the highway in second gear and having its engine subsequently replaced. They drove together to Jasper, where the great rocky mountains loom over the highway in the evening. Julien, coming from the East Coast (montreal) had never seen anything like this. He was overcome by the scenery, and its sense of grandeur. He was giddy with new experience and the possibilities that were opening up in front of him. She was driving, and he was in shotgun when he told her he loved her. She said that she was glad.
He is leaving a little bit early, but he has completely run out of energy and has been shitting the bed for the past two shifts. He needs to get home and to get some rest. He promises that he will be back next year. When we leave the bar and get back to camp he is sentimental and drunk. He takes my phone number and asks for directions from the Vancouver airport to the Tsawassen ferry terminal. Before going back to Montreal he is going to meet Jess` parents on Vancouver island. She will go to school on the east coast in the fall, three hours from Montreal. He plans on visiting her often.