I’ve lost track of what day it is. I only keep track of the date as the particular day of the week has no meaning when unemployed. What has to be done has to be done so with great anticipation we awaited wheels. Chrl’s twin brother offered to lend us a car that he has. It’s an old beater that has some quirks but it works. We were going to meet up with my sister for coffee downtown. I was also hoping to meet up with a couple of my friends. It all really depended on their schedules as we are flexible on this day.
The car arrived in the morning along with the rest of the family. We sat down for a communal breakfast and then afterwards Chrl and I got the run down on the car. It has trouble starting occasionally. It always does start but one has to wiggle the steering column a bit if that happens. There are some warning lights that are always on we were told not to worry about those as the car runs fine. The passenger side rear view mirror is busted and is hanging there by a wire. If we drive too fast it begins to rattle banging against the side of the door. I also discovered as I drove around that it pulls to the right so I had to always compensate for that. A car is a car though and we were happy that we were able to have it for the next few days as we had a lot of distance to cover and many people to visit.
My sister was first and we were meeting her in East Van at one of the coffee shops that we like. It gives her a chance to visit with us and also I was going to get her a membership at one of the dispensaries that I go to. She had an injury and she is trying to recover from it. The medications that she got work but they have their side effects that are unpleasant. She wanted to use herbs to supplement her treatment as she works towards becoming pain free. The last time I visited this dispensary I learned that current members were able to sign up a friend and get a bonus gram for doing so. I immediately thought of her. I gave her some herbs already but this way she is independent and can always come in and help herself to whatever she needed. The woman at the shop was helpful and they both kind of bonded together over their pain conditions.
We parted ways soon thereafter as I was hoping to meet up with an old friend of mine. We went to another coffee shop after realizing that it would be too wet to walk around outside. Since I don’t have any cellular connections that I want to use data for I have to rely on coffee shop wifi. The positive is that the wifi is highly functional in Canada. Every place I’ve been to has had decent speeds. Speeds fast enough for me to function and do what I have to. We spent a few hours in the coffee shop talking. It’s been the first time in a while that it’s been just Chrl and I. We had a lot to talk about as we were discussing all the various aspects of ourselves and the things we had to do before catching the plane to Saskatoon. That flight was only three sleeps away at that point. My friend couldn’t make it that day and another friend was predisposed as well. We ended up going to get some dinner before driving back. We went to get some Thai food at a restaurant where we had one of our first dates. It’s not some kind of glamorous place but it has good food. We reminisced about those beginning times of our relationship.
When we returned to Chrl’s parents place we had to pack. Well I had to pack the packages that were going to be sent to Saskatoon by Greyhound. It’s the cheapest way we found to ship these things across the country. I had to ship my kettle bells which have a combined weight of 32kg as well as an assortment of other things inside a giant plastic box. There were some things in there that couldn’t be crushed, paper that held some of my oldest art as well as an assortment of clothes and various presents that we received as housewarming gifts for Christmas. I received a battery powered jacket from my brother that was way too big. Chrl volunteered to see if she could find where it could be exchanged for the right size. She spent a good long while on the phone with a customer service representative and found that the jacket was discontinued. She and her dad drove to a store and managed to get a store credit that we will use at some future time to get some power tools or something. We had a long day ahead of us the next day so we got ourselves a good nights sleep after using her parents hot tub in the snow outside.
In the morning I managed to set up a time to meet my friend for coffee. Before our meeting we needed to drive to the Greyhound station in order to drop off the stuff for shipping. The weights and the big blue box weighed the same amount. That was kind of surprising and after paying for it we had to drive for coffee. The location that my friend picked out was a mall that sprung up during my time in Van. I never had to park in it though and we ended up doing a giant circle before finally finding the right street to enter the parking lot. This mall had a really crappy entrance. The rain continued to fall throughout the day but our spirits weren’t dampened despite the wet.
My friend Robin showed up finally. It’s been years since we last saw each other. He works away from the province and is busy with his family. He has two little kids that are rambunctious and in need of attention. His wife is also busy with her mompreneur business. Busyness is the word for everyone these days. With growing children and demands from work it’s no wonder that I haven’t been able to see everyone. I have also been away for a long long time. Between the two it’s easy to see how touch has been lost. Still I keep trying and with all the available means I’ll eventually track everyone down one day. Just to say hello and have a good convo.
After this coffee we were going to visit JQi. She is an old friend of Chrl’s who is battling cancer. I am slowly meeting Chrl’s significant friends. This one is a colorful character who has lived a good life filled with many adventures. She ‘holds court in her bedroom’ as she doesn’t walk much due to all the pain she has. The disease has affected her spine. I’ve seen many patients with similar conditions and can empathize with what she is going through. We showed up with a coffee and a treat for her. She was grateful for the visit and she told us stories from the past as she showed us some of the pictures that she has taken of famous blues musicians back in the day. She knew many people in the industry and her work has taken her all around the world. It would have been interesting to know her more but our time was limited. We had to go and meet up with people for a steam.
The place we were meeting up at for the steam is on Hastings in the downtown eastside. This is a rough part of Vancouver with a lot of poverty and associated social problems that fuel its continued persistence. Lately there has been a lot of fentanyl related deaths from overdoses. The city and province are trying to deal with it as best as they can but unless there is some legislative movement with respect to drug use this will continue. The steam place has been at this location for a long time since before this neighborhood was blighted by the poverty that exists here now. It has that old charm but it is also well worn through its decades of existence.
The friends that were there are part of her community of likeminded individuals. They have all been involved with Time To Heal in one way or another for a long time. Because of this they have learned to grow into better adjusted individuals. Steaming is a way of forcing the body to sweat thereby releasing toxins and the like through the surface of the skin. Symbolically steaming is a way of extruding psychic negative energy along with the sweat that comes out. Jennifer, Hillary, JD and his son joined Chrl and I for the steam. The eucalyptus burned slightly upon inhaling after vaporizing on the hot rocks. The heat soon produced the desired sweaty condition that we were there for. We chatted in the heat and the conversation turned into expressing our desire as well as the intention and motive for it in the coming year. Mine is for things to continue as they have in order to nurture and grow the love we have found in each other. After the hour and a half was up we all went to On Lok for dinner. This is another one of those restaurants that has been around for a long time and serves good food at a reasonable price. We were joined by friends of Chrl’s that were unable to go for the steam. We all ate like kings. Once we were back we soon passed out as we had an early start the next day in order to visit more people.
Early in the morning we headed out to Fort Langley. It’s a small community north of Langley that is made up of old historic buildings that have for the most part been preserved giving the town center a quaint feel. We were meeting Rachel for breakfast. The drive over there was nice and peaceful. The sun shone brightly at times helping to dissipate the fog that had built up overnight. All the mountains and fields that we passed looked majestic covered in snow. There were hardly any cars on the road as many people had taken time off for the holidays. The one time of the year when such leisure is not frowned upon. When people go and visit families in other parts of the world or simply take time to spend with theirs here or on the mountains. The mountains have gotten a lot of snow this season and the recent rains coupled with the cold have added to it. Listening to the radio we heard about two snow shoers lost on one of the locals. The search for them is on its fourth day having been called off due to inclement weather. Would they have been able to survive for so long? Kind of sad to think about at this time of the year. Tragic really.
Rachel has a bright personality and she is very generous and affectionate. She was pleased with our courtship. We were sitting in a little bakery having some breakfast chatting. A man came in with his daughter to pick up a gingerbread house. They had to bring it back in as it wouldn’t fit. It was quite impressive. Rachel was a bit late or we were a bit early. The coffee bakery place had hygge so it was nice to sit in. The long table was a thick slab of some tree that was then polished and preserved under a thick coating of varnish. Rachel talked a bit about her holidays spent with her parents. She talked about personal breakthroughs and her expanding business. She is making her own natural soaps and selling them. She gave us a gift set of soaps and assorted other products to take with us to Saskatoon. We probably could have sat there chatting longer but we had to go and meet some other of Chrl’s friends for breakfast.
We were driving to go and meet up with two couples and their kids at their house. I think I met with one of them at some point but I’m not quite sure. They are all a part of the Time To Heal group and have been for a while. Chrl really admires both of the couples. She says that they gave her faith in believing that relationships could work. In these times it is hard to believe that they can. It’s even harder if you have seen and experienced poor relationships yourself. I can relate to that sentiment. It was a bit of a drive but we made it and we once again took the scenic route because we had to.
At the house I was introduced to everyone and soon thereafter the other couple showed up. Soon the kitchen was filled with activity as the sausages, bacon, eggs and pancakes were being cooked. The eggs were baked in the oven giving them a different consistency than if they were scrambled on a frying pan. These were the last piece of breakfast to be finished. All the adults sat together in the dining room table while the children sat in the kitchen eating together. These two families know each other well so these kids have a relationship together. They played and fought together laughed and joked and since there is an odd number of them one felt left out.
Our conversation was wide ranging spanning world politics to interpersonal politics. Work and play and everything in between. When one gets to a certain age the conversation changes. No longer is one confined to conversation about celebrity or some fad that is going around. The conversation begins to dig deeper into the underlying motivations. Into the reasons behind the curtain that is presented to us. At this stage we have all experienced some loss as well as feelings of inadequacy in certain areas of life. We start to see that what we felt was normal was nothing but. It was extraordinary and not necessarily right. We had to correct that direction in order to get to where we wanted to go. A price was paid as a cost for this meandering and faffing.
Time seemed to float away on all of us not just in the general sense but also in the here and now. One couple had to go back home and we had to go to another appointment with a mutual friend of ours. We had a general time and a general area where we would meet. It all depended when Sandy would be available after finishing her shift. We said our goodbyes and wished each other Happy New Year. Who knows when we would see each other again. We drove off towards Abbotsford taking the scenic route and enjoying every minute of it. Since Sandy was still working we chose the spot to meet up in. It was at a strip mall that seems to be favored by developers and city planners as this pattern of development is repeated all over the place. I chose this location because I wanted to go into the grocery store and buy my sister some flowers. That was the last stop today but first we had to find Sandy. It was almost time to meet and she called in after getting off her shift to suggest that we meet at a different place. We had to get into the car and essentially double back and once we got to another strip mall we had to find parking. This mall was called ‘highstreet’ and it was adjacent to a series of new developments that sprung up around one of the exits to the highway.
Sandy was waiting for us at a pub. It was dark inside with screens showing sports highlights and various games that were happening all over the place. It’s the season for highlights of the year where they show all the best plays from the previous twelve months. We hugged and immediately got to chatting. Sandy and I used to work together and Chrl and I shared her as a roommate at different times. We all know each other well. We talked about some of the changes that were happening in the system as well as some of the things that we were going through as we got closer to our move east. There was a lot of laughter and a lot of joking around. This is what happens when old friends get together. We didn’t have a lot of time to hang out though. We had one more appointment to get to and time was getting late. We met at a pub and none of us had a drink. With driving drinking doesn’t mix. The consequences are much too high.
We made our way to my sister’s flat. I had been there before but I kind of forgot precisely where it was. All the housing complexes looked the same to me. We managed to find it as Chrl made the call to my sister to find out the precise location of her complex. My parents were there but they had to leave to do something shortly. I wanted to say goodbye to them before flying out the next day. My dad looked and sounded like he was under the weather. The move was taking its toll on them. I wish I had more time to help them more but it just wasn’t meant to be. I had to do what I had to do. They have another week and a half to finish so hopefully they manage.
Once we said our goodbyes we spent some time with my sis talking and then we had to leave ourselves. My sis really appreciated the time that we spent together. She was happy with her membership but she has not yet partaken of the bounty that she purchased. She has to feel ready to do that. There were some tears as we said our goodbyes but there was also smiles. Chrl and I are going to a new place to begin a new life together.
As we drove back we talked about many different things. The fog that settled gave the highway a spooky appearance. As my speed increased and at a time when Chrl was making a deep point the side mirror that was hanging began to tap on the door and occasionally on the window. That was a bit unnerving. I checked my speed but I wasn’t driving that fast. There was also traffic that caught up to me and I was the slow poke in the slow lane that everyone curses and has to go around. This car wasn’t built for excessive speed. It has issues and I wasn’t going to push the limits. We just hoped that the mirror stayed on until we parked the car. We made it to Chrl’s house and filled up the gas tank before parking. We got inside finished packing and passed out. We had to be up in four hours so that we could get to the airport in time to catch the 0645 flight that will begin our final journey to our new home together.