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Ladies and Gentlemen, Welcome to Toronto…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Toronto”.

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A collective sigh of relief as the Air Canada 747 comes to a slow stop. The tension, hovering in the Economy cab since take off…Releasing.

I reach for my phone. Before I can even scroll through the list of contacts, organized by city in case I happen to be in your town, I realize:

“Shiiiiiit…”

The adorable elderly woman sitting beside me jerks her gaze in my direction. I instantly feel embarrassed. If she had ever owned a cell phone in her life, I might be able to explain, perhaps garner some sympathy. Not this Grandma…

It troubles me to think about how many phone numbers I’ve had in the last year. It scares me to try and explain why. Even the amount of PHONES I have owned is ridiculous, to say the least.

The repercussions of this devastating fact were soon to be felt, as I scrolled in vain to find my ride from the airport’s name.

I guess it was in my American phone. Nope, must be in the old Blackberry. Gosh has it really been THAT long…

There’s a saying that has stayed close to me in the past few years and I couldn’t help but smirk as it ran through my mind:

“Well, if that’s the worst of your problems…”

I collect my small backpack and, guitar in hand, walk past all the shmucks who insist on checking luggage. A two week tour with ten shows? No Problem! I can fit all I could possibly need in one backpack! Besides, I had a show to play!

Onward and outward.

Through the airport. Double glass doors open automatically. Insert every swear word you could possibly imagine.

See, in Toronto, it’s cold. Cold is an understatement. If you grew up in BC and had just spent about half a year in California riding your bike around in January in nothing more than a t-shirt, it’s the kind of cold that slaps you in the face and makes you want to walk RIGHT back on the plane. In that moment, I was glad I’d booked myself a show in Cambridge that was set to start in about 2 hours. Sense of purpose, I guess.

There’s really no interesting way I can describe how brutal the next hour was. I did it though, I stood outside, hoping that my friend John would drive by and see me shivering like Paris Hilton’s Chihuahua.

I called everyone I could think of. I went against my better judgment and hopped on Facebook, in hopes that someone there would be able to help me (fast forward: $500 in data roaming charges in two weeks. Oops). Finally, after the YVR Security Guard’s third attempt at “humour” (‘Gee you’ve almost been here as long as I have!”) I bailed. Inside I went.

Double glass doors. Heat wave. Warmth smacking you in the face and wrapping all around you like a blanket. Tingly wollen mittens of Toronto Airport heating system. Feeling…in hands…slowly…returning…

More phones. More expensive internet with no data plan. Long distance calls to boyfriend in L.A. to see if he can track anyone down.

“John!”

“Billy!”

Glass window. Nose basically pressed up against it. John walking by. Victory.

We get to the venue in Cambridge, an hour away. I can say it was the first time I’ve ever walked in to a venue while the headlining band was onstage setting up and heard “Oh, Billy…we thought you’d be here earlier…”

I set up. Tuner in guitar case. Harmonica in the backpack. Try not to pull all my underwear and t-shirts out on to the stage while I try and squeeze the harmonica free from in between scores of CDs, cables and clothes. Try to take my guitar out of the case without people seeing all the socks I have stuffed in to the case all around it.

While onstage my friend Sean Ashby goes: “Billy the Kid has clothes in her guitar case. Tell THAT story at the Junos.”

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