CALGARY DIARY. Hills of grass and scrub, stands of birch, patches of thistle. Granite and limestone. If there wasn’t so much smoke from the fires to the west we’d be able to see the mountains, but the smoke is there, so instead Neil tells me to imagine the mountains dominating the horizon up to the first line of clouds. Could they be as imposing as I imagine? Maybe it’s better that I can’t see them; but I don’t want to leave Calgary with only their traces. 

Even if that’s better. 

My neighbours on the flight introduced themselves—no names, I don’t ask for them, but neither do they. “Are you going home?” No, I say, just visiting friends. And that’s the extent of their interest (that, and my shorts—the woman likes them). But not of my interest in them. But is it ghoulish to comment on their behaviours without their consent? On their bag of crispers, of jerky, as if they couldn’t go without, in a flight of less than four hours, a flight with two drink services and two small snacks. They strike me as a credulous pair—the way they jive to their food, like it was music. The woman especially—and she’s who interests me, because she is better dressed than her partner, because she has a nose ring, because they don’t fit my idea of a “couple” (he presents much more “basically” than she does). But anyone can present in any way, and I don’t know what people in Calgary are like. 

They seemed giddy with their in-flight entertainment. Movies and television shows that didn’t look like anything to me. Car chases, one last score (I catch some of the closed captioning). Watching a movie or watching a television show is a feat of endurance: I don’t always understand how people can do it, even if I do it myself and the things I watch to the end are sometimes terrible all the way through. 

It would be a shame if I never saw the mountains while I was here, though I don’t think there is a danger of that happening, but maybe in some ways it is enough to know that they are there. Not to imagine them purely, but to have the suggestion, to be placed into a landscape where they would normally be visible. To be told they rise to a certain height. 

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