This past week, @mirtos told me to book Friday off as we were going away. She refused, however, to tell me where. I was to be packed by Thursday evening and to pack for rain. Excitement!
As the week went on, she started getting frustrated that I didn’t know where we were going and, further, that I couldn’t help organise anything without knowing. Obviously I refused to be told our mystery destination. Mostly this was so that I would just be swept off to parts unknown like some terrible plot mechanic in a Jennifer Aniston movie, but it was also partly to avoid any responsibility. Cunning!
Thursday rolled around, a car came to pick us up, and on the drive my much better half mentioned to the driver that we would be flying Air Canada. Given our history in Vancouver, it was reasonably clear that that was probably where we were off to, and the mystery was forever lost. We landed in Vancouver a scant three hours later, rather uneventfully apart from the ridiculousness of United Airlines’ check-in procedure.
That isn’t a typo, by the way: The mystery vanished for naught. Le sigh. Disappointing!
Driving through Vancouver after three years away was a strange experience; memories of the roads we drove on were present, but an emotional connection to them was strangely absent. If this was the time that had lapsed since the city was home, the number of other countries that have been home since, or just that an emotional connection was never formed is impossible to determine. The feeling was that of driving through a set from a TV show or movie that I have watched repeatedly. I could anticipate the stores we would drive past, but felt nothing for them. This feeling did not last.
Once the night had past and it was time to start the rigourous schedule of lunches, brunches, dinners and hanging out time that Mirto had planned, the sense of the familiar became stronger and began to feel like nostalgia. This was finally cemented on the last night of our trip when I had the chance to spend a good many hours hanging out with my good friend Jeremy, who is responsible for the ink under the skin of my left arm, and his wonderful, amazing, warm and above-all happy family. Meeting again his son who was barely out of toddling when I last saw him, and having him change into multiple superhero costumes through the evening, was a true pleasure. Meeting for the first time his daughter who is just a few months old but clearly a blissful and settled baby was a delight. Just being allowed to share that loving home for a few hours was worth the trip alone.
That we also saw so many other old friends, and that the weekend showed me they truly are friends ready to change their schedules to make room for us though we abandoned them years ago for other pastures, was a rare treat. That two of those friends gave up a room for us and allowed us to share their lives at a potentially stressful time, and gave us much-needed time with a surrogate puppy, was a bonus.
So this is my attempt at thanking those that made this weekend special, and above all thanking my wonderful, darling wife for making it happen and keeping it a mystery.
Leaving was difficult, and not just because we had to get up at 3am for a tiresomely early flight on a Sunday morning, but because I had been reminded what I left behind. The city may still hold merely a vague feeling of nostalgia for me, but the people are special and it is they that I am missing all over again.