Monday, December 31, 2007

Christmas Away From Home

I caught the Greyhound 8 days ago, bound for the coast as the inlanders like to say. The Greyhound was full of holiday travellers so I ended up on charter buses, and I got the front seat. One of my co-travellers, Miriam, had the choice before me but declined it, saying that she didn't want to tell me why. I never asked.

What followed us the whole distance was weather. Here's a view on the road on the Blueberry Paulson:

I had many travelling companions: two Robs - one who drove the bus to Kelowna, and the other who sat beside me and who had not travelled on a bus for 27 years - some of his time he spent counting the number of places where cars had slid into the ditch. I had a little chat with him at #8 and he was convinced that there were more fun ways to spend time on a bus. In 14 hours, I visited with Brigida and Vito who sat directly behind me, Miriam who just returned from Guatemala, Stephanie, Morgan and Marilyn. I also finished writing my Christmas cards, read, listened to music, and did Sudoku.

We had great fun in Coquitlam, where we celebrated with almost the whole family. We had a bonus of a white Christmas:

Four days after Christmas, I caught another Greyhound to Kelowna, where my dear friend Elizabeth had rented a lovely place. Here is a great place to hang out...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Milestone Birthday and the Weather

I am sitting on the side of a mountain, a very regular thing to do when you live in BC, and watching the snow accumulate on the greenery. I am many hours away from my house, and had I been able to catch the Greyhound this morning, I would be 4 hours closer to home by now. But we could not get down the mountain and taxis do not come up here. Winter has arrived on the lower mainland.

I am here for the celebration of my friend's "Milestone Birthday" - one of my co-workers suggested a gift of a stone to mark this event. I found an Inukshuk which is one impressive milestone.

I met my friend 29 years ago at 2:30 am. What is fuzzier is the actual month or time of the year. This reminded me of an archaeological phenomenon. Some time ago, I read a book about the Maya archaeological site of Ceren, a site that was discovered by a equipment operator working on building new houses. Ceren was covered in volcanic ash; this event happened quickly so everything was preserved. The archaeologists could tell the time of the day it occurred but they could not tell the year.

When I met Deborah, I was working late in my lower-level apartment. Each time I began typing (yes, it was a typewriter in those days), I heard a noise upstairs. After doing more of the experiment, I walked outside (it wasn't winter - another clue) and knocked on the door. And that began a several decade friendship.

We were in our early 20s then, and each had toddlers who were the same age. Like the people in Ceren, we had our dailyness - working, laundry, dishes, and doing all of that while caring for our children.

There are many ways of preserving memories - in volcanic ash or what we carry inside of us.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December 1st

I arrived in Coquitlam yesterday morning on the Greyhound. At some point as I was looking at the landscape that was passing by, I remembered the many bus journeys I took home for holidays when I was working in the big city as a young woman. My mother will recall the stories I spurted out when I got off the bus, for each trips seemed to have its own adventure.

It was Grey Goose Bus Lines that travelled through Manitoba those days. And it did seem that my night travels were full of more stories than days. What has not changed over the years on those night buses is the groggy people who are wakened in the middle of the night when the bus reaches a new destination. My companions this journey included a woman who was on her way to Vancouver for emergency eye surgery; she talked about her whirlwind of a day - when it began she had no idea that that night she would be sleeping in a Greyhound. Or even what was in store for her when she arrived. I am thinking she was grateful that the retina problem was discovered before our only eye doctor went on vacation for a month. I am thinking she could use a friendly gesture on a long bus ride.

The bus driver was a friendly type of guy himself. He joked with each one of us as we lined up to give him our tickets - where we were going, and tales of the night before. When the half dozen teenage girls got on the bus l/2 hour down the road, he said to them, "yeah, girl power!" Along the way, whenever we were in cell range, the young women got on their phones. After one conversation, one of the young women said to the others, "Here's the advice she gave: Stick together. Don't talk to strangers." They all laughed.

I remember those days, of sending my children off into the world, and wondering what they would encounter, and if they would happen upon the evils depicted in movies. And then I remembered how I laughed when my mother told (ummm... tells) of the dangers in the world.

Our work as mothers is to make sure that our children are safe in the world. Our work as children is to go out into the world and experience it.

We, then, shall always have advice, and the inevitable rolling of the eyes.

And so I landed in Coquitlam at a time that can be neither called morning nor night. There might only be one thing worse than arriving at a destination at that time and that would be to wake up and go and meet the bus. Which Aimee and Josh did, with smiles on their faces. And I thought again about mothers and their children - how fortunate I am to be each one of those.