This past month has been one of relaxation and adventure. Thank goodness for the joy of Advent that leads to the jubilant spirit of Christmas that sustains us until the dawn of Spring.
This Christmas season brought me many adventures and a great deal of time for reflection. Not necessarily quiet reflection, but the kind that hits me in a moment where I observe the world around me and unearth a new thought percolating in my mind. I have wanted to write so many times throughout this last month, but I felt that I was in the midst of too many people that I love and I needed to spend time with them in order to experience those moments that I have just described. There will be other posts in the days to come that will recount some of those memories, but for now I want to stay on one subject.
There is only one word in the English language to describe the particular subject I am speaking of.
But first, a little confession here: I often use the thesaurus on my MacBook dashboard to help with my writing. I have a phobia of using the same word too many times or a word that seems too familiar to our ears. And just before beginning this paragraph I started to look up the following word:
There is but one word to me that means the place where we are most comfortably ourselves. Home. I could find no replacement for it. I would like to argue that you can have more than one physical place that you associate as being your home. I also think that it is not just a physical place, but home can often to be created by particular arrangement of people. Home is therefore portable.
This Christmas we started our journey by leaving our apartment in Camrose, flew to our temporary home in Orlando with my in-laws (more on this later), returned to Calgary where we departed to my parents home in Chilliwack and then made the return to our own little home. All that took traveling took 27 days, but it never really felt like travel since I was not discovering new things, but rather I was returning to familiar places and faces.
My most memorable return was to my parents house, cozied in beside a mountain. The parentals moved back to Chilliwack from Langley after they both recently retired, well, sort of retired. This was my second visit with them in the new house. My first trip back was in September right before my own move to Camrose. I came with friends from Calgary, some of whom it was their first visit to ‘The Best Place on Earth.’ I was returning for the wedding of my dear friend Danielle and for a family visit. On the last stretch of road between Kamloops and Chilliwack, which we traveled in the light of morning, I started to imagine what it would be like to look at the mountains and scenery that I know all to well with fresh eyes, like those of my friends experiencing it for the first time. As I did this my excitement grew. I felt the young little girl in me return as we got closer and closer to the house.
This time around we drove the last stretch very late at night since we had a late start. We hit a lot of wild winter weather, but we managed to make the whole journey without incident. At one point I was playing Angry Birds as the falling snow was thickening and I had to stop because I started thinking, “I can’t die playing angry birds. That would just be ridiculous. My last moments on earth can’t be spent killing little green frog things on a little screen.” Later on of course I realize that thought was ridiculous.
Anyways, as we reached the city of Hope I tried to nap to pass the time, but the familiar sights would allow no such thing. So there I was in the backseat reading all the exit signs and looking at the familiar hills, mountains and trees and that giddy excited feeling returned. Before Hope we drove by the exit for the stunning Othello tunnels. I can remember many trips there with my parents and grandparents over the years. The old tunnels surrounded by the moss covered, river flowing, evergreen engulfed beauty is not to be missed. Once Jeff and I spent the day with Nanny and Papa there. After we were walking on an icy pond or stream and Jeff fell through the ice. It was very shallow though so it wasn’t a big deal. However, his pants got all wet. He took them off to dry in the heat of the car over a vent and Papa made him a pair of pants out of a garbage bag. It was hysterical.
As we came through Hope and passed Exit 146, which is called Herrling Isl., it made me think of Agatha Christie and her lovely Poirot. As a kid and even now I would get her books on tape and listen to them as I cleaned or tidied. This particular exit made me think of Poirot giving his final speech in one of her books about all the ‘little red herrings’ he discovered had led him astray in his detective work.
Then came the Bridal Falls area with the water park formerly known as Trans-Canada water slides where so many summer memories were forged. As a teenager I can remember begging my mom to let me go there for the day with a friend without parental supervision. On another occasion I remember losing my tube on the tube ride and the stupendous Diane Kranabetter coming to my rescue, scooping me up from the water as I panicked.
Then as we passed Exit 129, the unfortunately named Annis Road and I could not help but snicker as I do every time. Let’s be honest, you would do it too. I thought of Will and Danielle’s lovely wedding that I had attended that previous trip at The Falls golf course just off that exit. I thought of all my dear high school friends who were there and how we’ve changed so much, but still like… even love each other.
All these memories. All these experiences. These mountains. This highway.
This place is home.
Finally after 12 hours of driving we exited towards Prest Road, pleasantly numbered 123, and went North towards my new home in Chilliwack.
10 minutes later I received a long awaited mom hug and dad hug. Wherever I can receive those hugs my heart will call home.
We had a whirlwind trip there with many hugs from cute little Friesen kids and lots of yummy food. All the siblings were there, and our Emily was extra glowy with a shiny new ring symbolizing her betrothal to a very lovely man. We’ve got a family wedding on the go now! I’d say that’s a pretty good Christmas.
And again yesterday we returned to our marital home back in Camrose. It was absolute bliss to walk into our apartment that we had worked our tushes off to leave in near perfect condition before we left. It was divine to sleep in our own bed. It was lovely to realize that I had a Terry’s chocolate orange patiently waiting for me in the cupboard. It was fantastic to take a shower in my own bathroom. It was comforting to hear the gradual boil of our own kettle. It was easy to find everything in the kitchen. Now that is quite a treat after being away for so long. It is great to be here.
All these memories to come. All these experiences to come. These rolling prairie hills. These roads and highways that lead to Camrose that I have yet to memorize and immortalize with memories, but indeed will.
This place is now home.
It was a blissful trip. I will be digesting it in the next several posts I am sure. In the meantime I am here in comfort of my marriage, in the lovely town of Camrose where Robbie is a grad student and I, his sugar mama, am happy to be home, though I never really left it.