Home Friends: Part 2

Back in Victoria my longest visits were with friends who were able to help out with the packing. Ryan and Renata were heroes, lending me their car, their awesome strength and their patience. They kept me motivated and on track. Plus we managed to have some good laughs and even dinner at my favourite Saigon Nights (mmmm #20…I know the rest of you love #18, but my heart can’t be swayed.) R & R occasionally threaten to move to Europe to work; I can only hope.

One set of Rebecca’s grandparents, Ken and Susan, also came down from Mill Bay a couple of times to lend a hand. Susan is warm and wonderful, and Ken will do anything to help out. Over the last three years they have become much-loved grandparents to Annie as well. I was just overwhelmed with how much they helped me out. It was such an incredible outpouring of goodwill. The first day they came over I put them to work on the kitchen, thinking that this could be a medium-sized, self-contained job. Um, well, it turned out to be a massive four-hour marathon for us (mostly the two of them…I just answered questions occasionally as I focused on other rooms.) It was a huge weight off for me once it was done and I can’t thank them enough. They moved, packed, carted things away and even cut the lawn. Crazy kindness.

My friend Rose came with her packing advice, moving supplies and cleaning skills extraordinaire. She listened fearlessly as my stress level peaked. (Did I mention that amongst all of this I had to negotiate a settlement with the contractor we were having a disput with over our home renovations, because Markus couldn’t get back to Canada for the court date? And the contractor’s wife is his lawyer, who I imagine is a very nice person most of the time but clearly hates us and wasn’t afraid to pretty much scream at me over the phone?) Rose has always been my touchstone, reminding me of what is important in the world.

And Stacey…wonderful, beautiful Stacey. She helped with the moving and cleaning, storing boxes and my piano, letting me stay with her when I had no bed, letting me bail on our plans without complaining so that I could pack more, was completely supportive yet helped me to keep things in perspective. How did I get so lucky to have such a friend?

I also enlisted Stacey’s awesome husband, Andrew, to help me with the bags and boxes from our attic office, which has very steep, rickety, fold-away stairs. (Let’s face it, I’m prone to accidents. I try not to use the word ‘clumsy’, which is an accurate term at 12 and endearing at 20, but just ridiculous and a bit weird at 40. Nonetheless, there aren’t many people who break their elbow falling off a bike while going for a leisurely ride by the river, so I thought those stairs may be the death of me.) He skillfully managed (drawing on his experience as a reservists with the Navy) and helped without complaining, even though I learned towards the end that he had a bad back. Um, sorry about that Andrew. And thanks!

With all of that help, as well as throwing money at the problem by hiring movers for two days, garbage/recycling collectors, and a yard work cleanup crew, I was able to squeeze in visits with some friends.

Sue, who I’ve connected with a great deal in the last year through our blogs and online chatting, (but not Facebook…she is a conscientious objector) kindly threw an AbeBabes gathering in her great new home. We were celebrating the arrival of Marci’s gorgeous baby boy, Archer. AbeBabes is our version of a book club, minus the books. All of us worked at AbeBooks at one point, although I think only 2 or 3 are still there. (It has been about 5 years since our first gathering.) It is a great group and I’m thrilled we still make the effort to get together.

Sue and Cathy and their children were a big part of my first year as a mom. We were all on maternity leave at the same time and had many, many lunches and get togethers, which certainly helped to keep me sane. And Antoinette has been fantastic about keeping in touch this last year, despite a busy time with her she-ought-to-be-in-pictures daughter. It was so much fun to see all of the children a year later. Crazy how much they have changed, of course.

And I loved catching up with people I haven’t talked to in a year…it sounds like such a long time! So many changes with jobs and relationships and homes and dreams. Too much fun. Marci and I got a chance to chat quite a bit. We are both moms who need to work (psychologically and emotionally rather than just financially), so we shared our stories about the ups and downs of that adventure.

And I even remembered to click some pics (what a beautiful group of women!!):

Marci with the guest of honour, Archer

Marci with the guest of honour, Archer

Stacey and Archer...that happy baby was help by everyone

Stacey and Archer...that happy baby was held by everyone

Janice and Kathy

Janice and Kathy

Antoinette, Maisha and Ange

Antoinette, Maisha and Ange

Cathy and Marci

Cathy and Marci

Gracious host Sue with sweet Amy

Gracious host Sue with sweet Amy

I manged a quick lunch with our wonderful friend Beth. (Whenever Annie sees their picture on the computer, she says in sing-song voice: “I love Beth and George.”) Beth was ridiculously busy at work and I know she felt bad about not being able to help with the move. But it was lovely to get a chance to catch up in person. Annie will be so excited to see her in August.

Some of the crew from the Marketing department at AbeBooks met me at Spinnakers for lunch. It was great to catch up with them and hear all the latest news about everyone’s lives. The company hasn’t changed much since it was purchased by Amazon, so we mostly talked about families and travel, soon-to-be babies and new relationships. I miss all of them. Here is a picture of the group, minus Beth, who had to leave a bit early and Julie, who ducked out when her beautiful new baby, Georgia, started to get sleepy.

Shauna, Michael, Maria, Heather and Kathleen

Shauna, Michael, Maria (with baby-to-be), Heather and Kathleen

Easily the most hilarious time I had on this visit was with Jennie, Sheenagh and Karen. We all worked together at Taylor Personnel many years ago, and every time we get together my stomach hurts from laughing after about 2 minutes. One of the few pictures I have up on the wall in Innsbruck is of the four of us (all looking gorgeous, of course) at our regular haunt, Cafe Mexico. We would get together every few weeks, and it is one of the things I am most homesick for living in Europe.

My calm in all of the storm was definitely the dinner I had with our friends, Arleen and Chris. They invited me to their beautiful house and we ate a delightful meal in their garden. (I experienced a real shock with how big and beautiful the homes are in Canada…including my own house on Richmond…as we currently live in a small, desperately-needs-to-be-renovated apartment here in Innsbruck. But hey, location, location, location.) I talked their ears off and hope someday they will recover enough to invite me back. They are coming to Innsbruck with their two girls at the beginning of July. We are totally stoked to visit and show them our beautiful part of the world.

I also squeezed in a tea with Monica, who I met during my stint at the Mary Street apartments. Monica is an Across The Water fan. (O.K., she is a fan of the pictures and videos of Annie, but I’ll take it.) She is funny and interesting and also a world traveller; I’m hoping that she makes it to our part of the globe next year. Monica also makes and sells lovely beaded jewellery, so I got some craft-talk time in as she gave me a tips on perfect wire wraps. (I know this is soooooo interesting to the rest of you.) I actually remembered to take a picture of Monica; here she is in front of her house:

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I did miss out on seeing Kyra, which was quite disappointing. I was a little too optimistic and scheduled a visit with her for the Monday before I left. Yeah, so that didn’t happen. I was really looking forward to seeing her and catching up. Kyra has been awesome with keeping in touch since I have been far, far away. It is impossible to describe how important messages and contact from home friends is when you abandon your old life for a new one. Not to mention that she has the best Facebook photos, which always keep me interested. Kyra will be first on the list to see in August.

Whew. Great to see everyone but glad to be done. So, are you moving? I have some serious karma to pay forward, so give me a call and I’m there with a smile on.

**Update: Now I’m starting to get messages from all of the people who I said I would visit, but didn’t. Or those friends who live in Victoria but I didn’t even contact. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m pleading insanity, overwork, stress, poor planning. Please, please let me make it up to you in August. I’ll be in Victoria on the 19th and will buy you a coffee. Promise this time.

One Response to “Home Friends: Part 2”

  1. Kyra says:

    eep! i’ve been remiss in my blog reading. thanks for the lovely post, Hillary. i’d better be first on your list!