Home Friends: Part 1

As you may know, I spent the last two weeks of May in Canada. I was there to pack up our house, it having finally sold. (The closing date is the end of June.) It was a lot of work. Really an unimaginable amount of work. I walked around the house the first night I arrived and just went, “I’M SCREWED!!” But of course in the end, with much help from friends, it was done. I whittled our lives down to one small storage locker. (O.K….Stacey is storing a few boxes as well. Oh and my electric piano. And the (K)Catherines have our flat screen T.V. Still not much.) If we do end up moving back to Canada in the near future, I guess we will be experiencing the famous “fresh start,” as we pretty much have nothing left there but some books, a computer (nowhere to sleep, but we’ll be connected…priorities people), Annie’s toys and clothes that I haven’t been able to part with yet, and some kitchen utensils. What else does anyone need? Yikes.

I had visions of packing a bit each day, visiting with friends, seeing English movies nightly, and going for long walks by my much-missed ocean. Right. For most of my 9 days in Victoria I basically woke up at 4:00 each morning in a panic and started filling boxes. I did try to see at least one friend each day, and managed to carve out time to see one movie with Renata. (Illuminati. I think it was a good flick; my perception is possibly flawed since it just felt so great to be surrounded by all of that English.)

Thankfully, I had planned on spending 4 days in Vancouver to visit my brother’s family and some friends. My timing couldn’t have been worse, as they were in the last days before they had to move from their house. (I called myself the house guest from hell, but they were all good natured about it.) But I really enjoyed seeing Ian and Lynne and my three awesome nephew/nieces. (Why isn’t there an amalgamated word in English for nieces and nephews, like ‘siblings’? An irritating lexicon hole.) I got to see the shell of their new house (it is being completely renovated), which is going to be amazing. It is on a cul-de-sac and sits on a huge lot with a forest-like ravine behind. Annie and I are going to have a blast when we visit in August.

Evan, Emma and Amie pretending to be asleep. Poor Amie has a broken elbow.

Evan, Emma and Amie pretending to be asleep. There are lots of games amongst these three.

Emma at swimming lessons.

Emma at swimming lessons. She is a very good athlete.

Amie was very brave with her broken elbow. Unlike her Aunt when she had a broken elbow and was screaming in the ER.

Amie was very brave with her broken elbow. Unlike her Aunt when she had a broken elbow and was screaming in the ER.

Sporty Evan taking a final slapshot at the old house.

Sporty Evan taking a final slap shot at the old house.

In terms of friends, I had great plans to take pictures of everyone to post on the blog. But I just couldn’t stop talking long enough to remember to do that, so I only have a few to show. As I mentioned in my last post, it is just different to have a conversation with someone who has learned your own language from birth. I didn’t realize what I was missing until I had it back. It was like I hadn’t noticed my left arm was gone, and then it suddenly returned and life was so much better and easier and whole.

My first visit in Vancouver was with Vern. I hadn’t seen him for at least a year. Vern suggested that we attend the BC Food Fair, which sounded great to me. I met him at the Olympic clock in front of the museum…Olympic fever is really heating up in the city.

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We ate our way through a very tasty couple of hours. I had been there at least an hour and had a spicy taco from the Mexican stand before I remembered about swine flu. I imagine that a large gathering of people eating questionally heated food might not have been the best idea in terms of fending off communicable diseases. Oh well. All’s well that doesn’t end in hospitalization. And, as always, Vern made me laugh and feel great about myself. The best kind of friend to have.

Vern kindly walked me to the bus stop where, after a short ride, I connected with my friend Lesli. I’ve known Lesli for many years, since the first or second year I lived in Victoria. She wrote some great articles for the ill-fated Pacific Island Gourmet and we took an alternative healing classes together. (Way ahead of ‘The Secret’ curve.)

Lesli is a brilliant communications specialist working for the city in support of the Olympics. We often talk about working together, as we think our skills would complement each others. Maybe someday. She is one of those friends where we can listen and talk and interrupt and finish each other’s sentences all at the same time. I love that. And miss that.

The next day I met up with Alexander for a walk on the beach. We were going to take a walk by the beach, but my sandal gave out so we went barefoot on the sand. The very hot sand. As good as a pedicure I think.

I met Alex a few years back at a yoga retreat on Vancouver Island (she was the instructor). She has this amazing balance between alternative beliefs and down-to-earth practicality that is just completely inviting. We haven’t spoken for a while so it was wonderful to catch up on each other’s lives and loves and dreams for the future. I can talk about anything with her without ever feeling judged. That is a rare gift indeed.

The last night the five ‘Vancouver Samsons’ were moving into Lynne’s mother’s one-bedroom apartment, where they will live for a month while the new house is being finished. So I moved over to Steve and Jodi’s place.

I met Steve doing my MBA at UVIC. He, John Turner (not the PM) and I did most of our projects togther. I learned more working with those two smarties than I did from my classes. (If you ask Steve about working with me, he will make some joke about my ability to make coffee or me crying too much, so don’t bother.) And I met the very lovely Jodi through Steve. They were dating at the time but are now married and living in a great apartment in Yaletown. (Complete with the Hillary Samson guest suite.)

Steve and Jodi always steer me towards some tasty places to eat…there are hundreds to choose from in the area. (I think many people in Yaletown subscribe to the Carrie Bradshaw philosophy of kitchen use; the oven is used for extra storage). I was having a Mexican craving, as that isn’t available in Innsbruck (some restaurants claim to have Mexican here, but it is totally inedible) and managed to fit in two Mexican meals. Yum!

Oddly, no video games were played while I was visiting. I think that is the first time. Steve has been in the video game industry for many years, and always has the latest games on all of the platforms. I remember visiting one time and pretty much forcing them to just play Wii with me the whole weekend. But they are good sports. I guess my need to talk and hang out with friends overroad my gaming addiction this visit.

And I sure did enjoyed talking with them very much about life in Canada and Europe. And about the biz. Steve started a company, Pug Pharm, about a year ago and is working on releasing the first online game title. I have been helping a bit remotely from Innsbruck and it has been great to reconnect with the corporate world. We would both like to work together (despite the coffee comments) so are hopeful that this can turn into something more permanent. Working for a Canadian company from Europe would be the best of both worlds for me. Here’s hoping.

Jodi thankfully found a deal on the float plane back to Victoria, so I saved myself the 6 hour ferry/bus/taxi ride and was able to squeeze in another meal with them. If our lives bring us to Vancouver to live (anything is possible at this point), it will be so comforting to know we have amazing friends there. I am very lucky.

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