NYE 2016 Saskatoon The New Frontier

Have you ever anticipated something and were unable to sleep? At three a.m. that was me wide awake in bed watching the clock periodically hoping to catch a few more moments of shut eye. It was no use. I couldn’t get comfortable and my bodily functions wouldn’t let me. What if I fell back asleep and everyone else missed their alarms and we missed our flight? That was a scary prospect but completely unreasonable and not the reason why I got up shortly. It gave me time to have a coffee and relax before waking Chrl for the last time at her parent’s house. 


Chrl surely would have preferred to be up a bit later and to take the flight home directly. This was not to be as this was our lot. A very early beginning to the last day of 2016. I carried our luggage downstairs and then out to the truck. We filed into it quietly and Abe drove the route knowing all the roads and turns to take. The fog was thick this morning. Visibility wasn’t great but there wasn’t much traffic out on the roads either. We chatted about their beginnings here on the west coast after moving here from Winnipeg. How they went from one house to another until they bought the house that Chrl’s parents are in now. The hot market has propelled the house to stratospheric levels of value in these conditions. All along the street that they live on the houses kept getting sold for higher and higher amounts. Chrl and I are kind of economic migrants hoping to gain a foothold in a new place in order to have a life and not be chasing every dollar just to be able to live in some tiny place just scraping by. 


We got to the airport in good time and said our goodbyes. We went in to check in as we had luggage that had to be checked. This airline requires that we pay for each additional piece of luggage that we bring into the plane. As it is we had three suitcases that we had to bring with us. They were filled with clothes as well as other assorted things that we picked up along the way. It was stuff that we had to bring with us on the plane and not shipped on the bus. It didn’t cost an excirbent amount and the convenience of having the stuff with us was well worth it. All of our stuff is essentially in transit at this point including ourselves. I went outside for a final breath of fresh air and to consume some edibles. I was hoping to just fall asleep throughout the flight. 


We passed security and made it onto the plane. The plane was being boarded at this point and it looked like it was going to be full. We were late coming to the boarding party. All the overhead compartments were filled with people’s stuff. I had to put my bags in seperate compartments as the one above my seat was packed. So much for controlling how much people bring onto the plane. To top it all of Chrl and I had to sit seperately. She was sitting directly behind me in a middle seat. I detest the middle seat. I made myself as big as possible in order to assert my space sitting between some gangsta looking kid and an old lady. The lady didn’t move the whole flight while the kid was listening to some kind of upbeat music making hand movements in tune to some beat. He was really feeling it I guess at six thirty in the morning. 

The cabin crew looked worn out. It was early for them too and as professional as you want to appear being tired is being tired. They had a sense of humor and were firm with people regarding headphones and chairs in the upright position. Take off and landing are the two critical points during the flight that are important to have all these fine details checked. It is a short flight so all we had time for is a cup of coffee. It wasn’t that bad actually even though it came from a popular fast food chain. I was asleep for most of the flight experiencing strange and wonderful visions. No one really knew and it made the flight tolerable. When we landed we had a short time to make it to our next flight. The plane had to be de-iced before take off in Vancouver. Saskatoon didn’t have any direct flights available from Vancouver. I’m starting to wonder if there are any. 


The airport in Edmonton is pretty small but it was a far walk to the other side. We had about thirty minutes before take off in order to make it to our gate. We were getting onto a smaller turbo prop airplane. We had to walk outside to get to the stairs that take us into the plane. I slipped my thick coat over my backpack in order to avoid the cold. We weren’t sitting together on this flight either. Chrl got the front seat while I was further back. I sat beside this older lady. We said our hellos and soon we taxied over to the de-icing area before taking off. This process is quite automated here in Edmonton. They are used to performing this task as the temperatures are below zero for a large chunk of the year. 


Up in the air after listening to the safety instructions from another no nonsense stewardess we were served a bitter cup of coffee. No complaints from me though. As we began our descent the old lady and I began a longer conversation. It turns out that she is ninety-four! She looked elderly but not as old as that. She told me that she moved to Saskatoon in 1942 with her husband and two kids. She was just coming from visiting one of them for Christmas. That son vacations in Arizona during the winter but travels back to Edmonton for Christmas. She told me that she enjoys Saskatoon and the community that she lives in. They have all kinds of activities that they enjoy doing together. She has been a widow for twenty four years. I wished her Happy New Year and disembarked from the plane. 


We walked through the exit doors and made our way to the luggage carousel. I went outside to the shelter for some fresh air and received my first experience of the cold out here. It was cold but with my fancy jacket it felt alright. I was right beside the parking lot and everything had a layer of snow on top of it. A snow storm recently dumped a few inches of snow here. The snow gave an impression of coldness but the sun shining down had a different feel to it. I felt happy and good to be here. It was quiet outside despite the bit of bustling happening by the taxi stand. I went back inside to find Chrl. 


Our luggage was unloaded close to the end. As I waited for it I watched some of the adverts that were being cycled on the monitor. They were a bit different from the usual adverts since they dealt with local information. Some of the hotels seemed impressive with their interiors showing lush greenery. There is a lot of country music ’round these parts and it looks like all the big shows happen at the casino. With our luggage in tow we caught a cab into the city to our new home together. 


The cab coordinator was nice and friendly and the cab driver was nice too. Traffic moved reasonably through the city despite there being some snow on the road. The main road was fairly clear once we go onto it but the street that we live on didn’t look like it was plowed at all. We will be living inside an apartment block up on the fourth floor. When we walked into the flat we dumped all of our things on the empty floor and Chrl gave me the grand tour. 

It is a fairly big flat. The main living space extends from the kitchen and we have a large window letting in natural light. There is a little sun room that has doors to both the sitting room and the bedroom. Outside we have a large terrace that is now filled with snow. Our building is one amongst many in this area. It is an older building but it feels nice to be inside of it. It feels nice to be here together as we begin our new life together. 

We haven’t had much to eat today. Chrl has been living here since September and knows a bit about where we could go and eat. We are basically living downtown Saskatoon close to the business district. There are or should be plenty of places to eat around here. We went to a new agey cafe that serves wholesome vegetarian foods. This place reminds Chrl of Commercial Drive in Vancouver. It has that karmic feel to it and the menu reflects an ethos that may seem at odds with where we are culturally but it feels right at home to me. Places like this make me think that it will all be alright. This place has space for multiple cultures and perspectives. It will be interesting to discover everything here. 


As we were eating we made a plan regarding what we will do. We were cognizant of how tired we were feeling. It was still early and we needed to it we should go and buy some groceries and other assorted materials for the flat. We don’t have any furniture yet and it seems like we will be getting our stuff on the second of January. We will have to somehow survive on what we have with us. Chrl lived in a dorm before moving to this new flat so she didn’t really have to stock up on any housewares. She had to finish her exams so she was busy with that and not with worrying about what we needed. Everything is en route anyways. We will have to do without for a while. It was a nice day anyways and a little field trip through the city to a super shop never hurts. 


We dropped off our liquor purchase from the liquor store and grabbed some sturdy reusable bags to carry all of our purchases in. The bus that will take us to our destination stops just up the block from our building. We were on our way on our first adventure in the city. The busses run every fifteen minutes along this route. We settled in at the back of the bus and stared out the window at all the things that we passed along the way. There was a wide assortment of businesses along the way to the super shop. It’s good to have an idea of what is here. There are a few ethnic shops and restaurants around here. There are some places of interest that we should one day check out. Just this one ride on the bus gave me the sense that everything we need is right here in the city. Whatever we can’t find we could order and have delivered here. 

The super shop was bustling with people. It is a humongous store and we got lost walking around checking things out. We needed to buy two days worth of stuff including some veggies, eggs, milk and cream, as well as, cleaning products and a mop and broom. I like to walk around and check out a shop thoroughly in order to get a sense for what it has. Today it was just a cursory inspection we are both kind of tired and road weary from all the things we have been up to lately. At this point in the early afternoon we have already been up for twelve hours. It was a good shopping experience. We went back to the bus stop and waited a short time for the next bus to take us back. After five it was free to get on and use the bus. This is a good way to encourage people to use this service instead of driving drunk. 


We were both exhausted from our day. Being up so early and also all the traveling that we have done has been taking its toll. We were wondering if we were going to make it until midnight. On a positive note time had jumped ahead two hours due to how much east we had travelled. We were determined to make it until midnight. There must be some kind of civic New Years celebration here and Chrl found something on her phone. Once we were back I rrealized that we forgot to get some pop to mix with the rum I bought earlier. After dropping of the groceries I ventured outside to go to the local convenience store for it. On my way there I noticed a poster with the info to tonight’s festivities. The fireworks were at 2017! As in 08:15 pm. 


With this great news I returned home and since it wasn’t too far in the future at this point we made ourselves some food and prepared to go out. The fireworks were going to be displayed at a local park by the river. It is only a ten to fifteen minute walk from our flat. Although it is cold outside the night is nice. Everything is covered in snow giving a festive sheen to everything. According to the news I read a few days ago the snow had only recently fallen here. Snow looks better when it is fresh. After snow has sat on the ground for a while in the city it begins to get dirty and ugly. This snow looked good. 


Padestrian and motor traffic intensified the closer we got to the area. Once close to the park we saw an ice rink that was filled with skaters. It’s appearance gave Chrl a smile as it transported her to a time in her youth that involved this activity. It made me recall my time as a child at the park skating playing shinny. We continued further past the castle built during the Great Depression that is now a luxury hotel. We could hear the mayor giving a speech on a stage that hosted some music performances not too long ago. The emcee then announced that the Queen was going to give a speech. It was a pre recorded speech specially made for us Canadians as this is the 150th year of confederation into a country. She even said a portion of her speech in French. 


The park was busy with many people around. There was a bonfire and ice sculptures as well as some other assorted structures. People were gathering close to the river for the big moment. Fireworks are a great way to ring in the new year. For us it has been a great year. We reminisced about what kind of a year it has been as we edged closer and closer to the river in order to get a better view of what was to come. As the lights dimmed and the first salvo of explosions lit up the sky the oohs and ahhs from the crowd brought a smile to our faces. These fireworks were humble in their size and scope but more joyful than any before. The fireworks went on for a good while gradually increasing in intensity in tune with the music. We were standing in the snow by the river. These fireworks were a crescendo, a climax to the year, the season and our feelings at this present time. We have talked about what we have just begun for the whole entire year. “Wouldn’t it be great if we were together? What if we moved in together? Want to live together?” These questions were asked and answered as we worked towards our mutual goal of being together. So as we stood there watching this spectacle inside our emotions were elevated and we felt a great joy. We are finally realizing our mutual goals. We are diving into a new adventure out here on the cold prairie. 


No matter how wonderful the fireworks were there was no escaping the fact that it is twenty below zero. Chrl’s toes were frozen or feeling numb. There wasn’t much else to look at around here and we started to walk towards our home. The nice thing about the fireworks being shown at this time is that we are able to be home when midnight strikes. We took a scenic route through the city stopping at the global coffee conglomerate to mooch their wifi. I wanted to send out a big Happy New Year through everyone’s favorite social media hub. It also gave Chrl a chance to warm up a bit. The staff wanted to close for the night and soon called out for people to leave. We are not far from home so we trudged along merrily to our destination. 


We had purchased a bottle of bubbly earlier. It was in the fridge cooling waiting for the right moment. When we got home we found our moment and toasted to the new year. Our apartment is empty besides the few suitcases and boxes that we brought with us. Inside this flat we have quite a lot of space. With no furniture the space is vast. We made a makeshift bed by layering all the blankets, carpet and comforters that we had. Chrl has a little space heater that will add some warmth. Nothing we can do except survive somehow until our furniture arrives. We were pretty tired so we went to bed and just made it to midnight here. It was a great sleep. 


New Years Day 2017 began like no other. We slept on the ground essentially so the olde bones felt a bit stiffer than normal in the morning. It was a beautiful sunny morning when we looked outside. We roamed around our flat still in a surreal state occasionally touching each other’s faces to make sure it’s real. Video calling has always made us wish we could touch but that functionality isn’t there yet. Will it ever be? We made some coffee and discovered that we have to frying pan to make the eggs in. I felt bummed about that. The olde brain kicked in though. Maybe it’s the tiredness or all of the events in the past few months but it takes a while in the morning for it to boot up. The only thing I have is a saucepan. I can make us breakfast! Chrl has a classmate that lives in a flat above us somewhere. She lent her some cutlery, plates, and this saucepan. All those groceries we bought yesterday will be put to good use. 

This minimalism is our version of survivalism. Out here on the frontier one has to make do with what one has. At this moment we have few possessions in our possession. We have each other though and these little hardships are just tiny obstacles that will be remembered fondly in a future time. Our whole day was like this. We chatted and organized what we could. The moving truck will arrive the next day. It will show up in the afternoon due to the winter weather going over the mountains. This news added greatly to our excitement. 

We ventured out to the conglomerate coffee chain. It gave us a chance to sit by each other and stare into our little screens as we held hands. It was really cold outside but it was really beautiful. Ice crystals formed on branches painting them white thus giving everything an unusual white appearance. Everything is bright due to the sun reflecting off of everything. I felt bad for the guy outside the shop asking for change. I haven’t had cash in a while. We went back to our flat and lounged for the rest of the day resting for the upcoming day. We made plans as to how we are going to approach the next day. It was a really nice day for us. It is that new beginning that I’ve been hoping for. The beginning of a new adventure and this time I’m glad I won’t be alone walking down the path. We will be facing the road together. 

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