Just another day in Paradise
Like students lamenting the end of summer vacation and the return to the familiar routine of hall passes and early mornings, I too find myself missing what I made into my brief summer vacation.
In ten days, I went from Whitehorse to Ottawa to (a couple delayed flights and missed connections and airport anger later) Turks and Caicos and back again.
I went with the fam on a dive trip to an all-inclusive resort. I usually feel guilty and uncomfortable about the idea of all-inclusive beach resorts in third world countries because, as my 12th grade world issues teacher said, “You’re going to these places where The Man has taken the most beautiful beaches away from the people, made resorts, and staffed them with the poor people they robbed, and then there you are stuffing your face and living a life of luxury in front of them, rubbing it in their faces.”
Indeed, I felt such things when I went to a resort in Jamaica, which required a tour bus ride through shanty roadside towns dotted with tin shacks and desperation.
This time, Turks and Caicos let me enjoy the beauty of a tropical paradise guilt-free, as the island has no real “natives,” just a bunch of rich people buying up oceanfront property for their own summer jaunts.
I went, I dove, I tanned, I snorkeled and I ate splendidly. I describe it simply, because the living was that: simple and easy, just like the Porgy and Bess song says summertime is supposed to be.
The best memory I take from the trip is being 80 feet deep, looking over my left shoulder at the coral reef on the underwater cliff beside me, and instead finding myself eye to eye with a sea turtle. We had a moment, mere inches apart, nodded each other off and shared understanding (I like to think, anyway). I couldn’t stop myself from smiling euphorically, which unfortunately brought me back to reality as the smile lines on my face allowed copious amounts of sea water to enter my scuba mask. Small price to pay.
The food was excellent, with fresh fish, jerk chicken and tropical fruits a part of near every dining experience. It was almost too easy to overlook the quality and beauty of the food presented, as it was all “free”, and provided in abundance. But recent readings have taught me to value to slow appreciation of food’s taste and quality (Elizabeth ilbert's Eat Pray Love).
Upon my return from the Turks part of the trip, I reunited with Ottawa friends to do the thing a twentysomething carpe diem girl should do in such a place: I laughed, hugged, smiled and donned purple lamme spandex pants to 80s night at Barrymores night club for a night of drinks, retro dance moves and laughs. I rode the OC transpo, and was almost overcome with homesickness, finding beauty in all the familiarity around me.
But then I thought, “I can’t stay here,” and was comforted knowing there was always Ottawa to return to, but I am on a real life adventure in the Yukon.
So I packed my stinky scuba stuff and still damp beach wear home to my man and me new kitten, Goober. Here I am, back to work as the town’s students pack their pencil and books to go back to school, and we all wish for one more day of summer.
Extreme Makeover: Cry edition
Throughout this last school year, I missed out on something that happened at regular intervals, on Sunday nights.
Those nights were usually spent finishing assignments I’d said I’d do all weekend but ended up going out and imbibing instead. Sunday nights were vowing to be organized, picking out the next day’s outfits, preparing a healthy lunch that wouldn’t leave me desperate and starving by 3:00 p.m. Sunday nights were my renewal, my accomplishment.
But, like I said, I had missed ot on something that only now, by the gracious goodness of reruns, am fully appreciating.
It’s called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Every Sunday night me and my Kleenex Box curl up. I try and hold in my crying until at least 20 minutes into the show, knowing there’s more to come. I don’t want to use up all my crying at the beginning and miss out on crying alongside the lucky homeowners who are also crying at the end.
For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the format is as such: Family desperately in need and heartwarmingly good are nominated to have their home rebuilt because they cannot afford it, but it is needed. Sometimes it’s a family so poor because of illness, sometimes it’s people who’ve always ben poor but who give everything to helping their fellow man. Either way, their stories make me cry. Then Ty Pennington of Trading Spaces fame amasses a design team, and the help of almost every resident of the town hosting the family receiving the home makeover. We watch them demolish the old house, build a new one, and then they bring the family back from some dream vacation to come and investigate their new, palatial home complete with fancy new furniture. Then I cry more and the people on TV cry more, and I’m filled with a feeling of, “I want to DO something.”
I never feel bad crying to this show. Although I don’t like to cry alone so I usually call one of my best friends who introduced me to the show and cry with them. And don’t feel bad, because it’s not crying out of a sense of helplessness or tragedy. It’s crying at how beautiful these helpful people are, how grateful they are for something so elementary that I and many others take for granted. It’s crying watching thousands of people amass with smiles to help people they don’t even know. It’s beautiful.
I obviously finish up with some crumply, damp Kleenexes around me and a drive to renovate. Of course, my bank account is smaller than that of ABC Television, and so I cannot afford to makeover the broke down house downtown that is used as a women’s shelter.
But who’s to say I can’t help out in another, more cost-effective way? Can I indeed become a volunteer? I am no longer a student who devoutly commits free hours to papers, assignment and barhops. Now I have a 9-5, evening and weekend freedom. I could volunteer, couldn’t I?
Hopefully I wouldn’t cry every time. Maybe with a few more episodes of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition I will be desensitized to those things that make me cry. Although, I really hope that never happens. I like my Sunday night cry.
No rush hour, no rushing, just clouds
This morning I drove to work beside clouds. Clouds! It was rainy last night, so the clouds came down nice and close, leaving a few wispy ones hanging low today, under the bright blue sky of arctic summer mornings.
Mountainous living is something else.
My ears pop when we drive up the hill to our house. My lungs burn when I run as I adjust to the higher elevation, (still waiting to acclimatize, make the burning stop already!). My butt has gotten the workout of a lifetime traversing up and down, hiking here and there.
Sometimes when I look out my balcony window, the color of the sky behind the houses on my street seems to be a dark blue, like the sky at home right before a thunderstorm rolls in. Here, it just means you aren’t looking high enough. Past the dark blue of the faraway mountains is the real sky, the bright blue that stays until 10:30 p.m. these days and is back up by 4:00 the next morning.
All of this, and there’s still nothing as surreal as looking out the passenger window to see a row of tall, skinny pine trees and a long white cloud right beside me, following me to work. It’s like something from my imagination, like I’ve flown up to a dream world in the sky where there isn’t just birds and airplanes, but a whole green paradise with turquoise waterways, purple fireweeds, and peaks of green and blue.
I don’t want to get used to this, I hope it’s this dreamy as long as I’m here.
Moving has happened
The journey of separating keep from toss, watching strangers collect my belongings and box them, those boxes going in a truck, a four-week waiting period in which my boxes and belongings moved between a few trucks and, for a time, did not go anywhere, has now concluded.
Boxes were unpacked, my things were moved into the house and this weekend I will be finding a place for everything, putting everything in its place.
I cried a little when I got home after work yesterday and fiancé, who had overseen the unpacking process, told me our headboard had been chipped, our bedside tables broken, the back of our bookshelf fallen off and our TV and couch gone missing. MISSING! Like, lost! He was surprised by my reaction.
“What did you expect?”
“Um, for our stuff not to be lost and broken?” I cried indignantly.
“Oh, I just figured with the moving and jostling our stuff would get here a little worse for wear.”
“Well I figured a professional moving company that has been doing this for years would have picked up a thing or two about not losing and wrecking their customers’ things!”
I threw my hands up at him and turned away; I needed to breathe out big and deeply before I could accept our losses and move on. (But you KNOW I’m going to go to town filling out claim forms!)
We went to bed with sore backs and aching feet after spending the second half of the day unpacking, moving, moving again to better suit the “flow” of the room as fiancé said, and tracking down the bed sheets necessary for a good night’s sleep.
When I woke up today, found my long lost housecoat hanging on the door rack, I walked to the balcony and for got about the past day’s frustrations. I spooned my Cinnamon Toast Crunch into my mouth (the taste not yet ruined by toothpaste) and looked out at the high sun shining down on the mountains and the valley below, where we live. It was a sight to take in slowly (I was almost late for work) but it made me so much more appreciative to be here, with our stuff (most of it) and together in the place we’ll call home when we get married. No more moving between houses, no more living out of a suitcase, no more cooking with other people’s pans. Just us, in our home sweet home in the mountains.
Us and maybe a kitten, fiancé told me today....