Chapter 4–“…And miles to go before I sleep”
It would be close to two weeks before we would be back in Winnipeg, and telling everyone our news. In those days we had, as Robert Frost once put it, “promises to keep”, and “miles to go…” before we could—to paraphrase—rest easy. This year we planned to detour slightly north on our way back east so that I could spend a day or so in my old stomping grounds in Alberta.
Thanks to the “Alberta Oil Boom” in the eighties, my dad was transferred to Alberta in the early eighties. This time in my family served as a kind of watershed. My older siblings, both young adults at this time, opted to stay behind in Manitoba. Both were in post-secondary, and disinclined to undertake the challenges involved in academic transfers. I was still in middle school, and thus dragged (some would allege kicking and screaming) to Alberta. Our family, and its dynamics changed considerably. I was no longer the “baby” in a classic nuclear family. I then, and in the six years to follow, toggled between “only child”, “latch-key kid” and “lone child with lone parent”. Granted there were some very gruelling emotional times, and less than fuzzy warm memories, but there were also some very heavily disguised, yet significant blessings—at least for me. We lived in a small city just north east of Edmonton. It was a sweet little “town” where neighbours always wished you a “good day”.
I spent much of my adolescence there, and made some amazing friends. One friend, in particular, was going to be “passing through town” around the same time we would be. It had been years since we last saw each other, and in that time she had become a Veterinary Nurse, gotten married, moved to Doha (UAE), and had a baby. More recently, she was fostering lion cubs, which she had helped deliver via caesarean section. She was someone I really wanted to meet for lunch, coffee, drinks or something—we had much to catch up on! Another friend had also recently got engaged, and had bought a beautiful new home with her intended husband—both Palucid and I were eager to catch up with her as well.
Both of my friends’ parents are good friends with my parents. One mother, in particular, as small worlds are wont to be, went to college with my Dad back in the day. She kept in regular contact with my parents. Palucid and I realized there needed to be a fair amount of pinky-swearing to secrecy going on. For my friend from Doha, she was perfectly okay with the prospects of not sharing our visit with her mother. After all, I needed the undiluted time and space to meet her husband and son. Also, it is much easier consuming alcohol when there are no mothers present.
So, as we sat down to drinks with our men—both BC boys as coincidences would have it— and visited quite easily. My friend and I discussed our men. I told her how Palucid was quite the opposite of what I would have envisioned for myself back in the day. My friend, a beautiful, vivacious, and gregarious woman, smirked at me. I looked over to her husband and noticed a little silver ring on the pinky on one of his hands. I coughed a little as I felt my cocktail spurt its way towards my nose. No! It couldn’t be! I turned to my friend—my wild and crazy friend—and said with an incredulous “You married an engineer?!!”
Both my friend and I always held with the belief that engineers were very tremendously straight-laced and thus contrary in personality to wild and free spirited ways of individuals as colourful and vivacious as my friend. In fact, back in the day, she and I coined many a joke about engineers and their pocket protector ways. Now, my friend was enjoying my shock and awe as I wrapped my head around this one. Some things never change: my friend was quite simply one-of-a-kind wrapped in awesome.
My next visit was with a friend who I did manage to see a little more often throughout the years. She married young, and had two beautiful boys. Along the way she never really judged or marvelled at my single-ness, but when I did meet Palucid she was among those who cheered us on without the slightest hesitation. Now, as her life took on its many changes, she and I were in a very similar place. She too was engaged and looking towards starting a new life with someone special. She was so excited to hear our news, and to see my ring. She laughed as she circled our tentative wedding date on her calendar—we could invite her, or expect a wedding crasher. Palucid and I happily agreed to put her at the top of the, as of yet, unformed guest list.