Six years ago from about now, I had come home, a newly-minted father, without the slightest clue what you were about to do to my life, Monkey. I had no idea what awaited me, not a hint of what things you would make me learn or the things you would teach me. I had no idea how much more I would value life, how I would see things differently, and how I would relate to the world around me.
Six years later, I cannot imagine my life without you. I have trouble even remembering you now as a baby, or the little toddler who simultaneous loved and could barely stand eating ice cream. Because who you are today seems so far from the tiny child you were.
Happy birthday, Monkey.
It’s one of those funny things you sometimes run into as a parent. In one moment, you’re nearly panicking at the seemingly rapid passage of time, that your tiny infant is suddenly racing around the house, reading books far too advanced for her age, and threatening to debate logical positivism. Then you look down and see that one child is adorably cute and had been so for, also seemingly long, forever.
Today, dear Choo Choo, you turned 3. And while the world seems to be spinning around me beyond my control, you sit there at the centre of the storm, giggling and playing and singing songs and making faces and smiling, smiling, smiling. Oh, how I cannot believe how much happier my life is when I get a big hug from you.
Like this morning, when you got up…
They say that when you put enough people in close proximity for long periods of time, their biological rhythms come into synchronicity. People start thinking the same, they pick up each other’s habits and nervous ticks … and of course catch each other’s colds. And … uh … we all got terribly, terribly ill and declared to everyone that we weren’t able to work for the day. Planned a couple of weeks in advance. In unison.
Okay, yes, we all played hookie. We had a good reason. We’re helping out Mt. Norquay with some of their marketing needs. And who are we to pass up an opportunity to experience our client’s business while taking a much-needed day off to go skiing?
Though … is it worth mentioning that I haven’t been near a ski hill in about 25 years?
Photo by Geoff S.
For our wedding, Alex and I got a breadmaker. (I think we had it on our list.) It’s a good breadmaker, and we’ve used it many, many times, though we had eventually stopped using it for the baking aspect — the loaf size was odd, and if you forgot to take the paddle out, the hole in the bottom was annoying.
Then, about a year ago, Alex started an elimination diet that eliminated wheat from her plate. Thus began the long (and not-infrequently bad-tasting) search for something to replace the gluten (and thus, wheat) that had been removed. That meant finding a different way to make bread.
It was much harder than I thought.
So when you last left me, dear reader, I was sitting in the Denny’s in Red Deer (the only place I could find that was open sufficiently late), biding my time before heading down to the Greyhound station to find my 3:00 (am) bus for Edmonton.
I honestly wish I could spin a yarn of difficulty, with a late, packed bus, screaming kids, barfing drunk people, a tired and beligerent driver, getting lost in who-knows-where Alberta before the engine gives out and stranding us in -15 C weather. I wish I could tell you that, because it would be a lot more interesting than what happened.
I got on the bus at 3:07 (the bus was a wee bit late), and I got off just after 6:00 (I didn’t look at the clock). I had two seats to myself. No-one made a sound save for the driver, who was very nice about announcing arrivals, and drove very well (so far as I could tell, anyway — I was trying to get some sleep, which I think I managed). I arrived with my head attached.
The worst part of this segment of the trip has been trying to find a decent place in Edmonton for breakfast. Your run-of-the-mill diner is hard to come by, though that’s likely due to the fact that it’s the downtown core, and not the funkier parts of town.
But I sit here, in the Three Bananas Cafe (eating a breakfast sandwich), looking out on the Edmonton City Centre building in his purplish glow, watching the signs at the top of the CN building tracing out the company’s logo over and over.
I know what you’re thinking: Red Deer? Music? Honestly, what on Earth are you thinking, Geoff? You haven’t exactly had the most … inspiring of times in Red Deer. Okay, I admit, I’ve not got the best stories of this, our third largest city in Alberta, but it’s far from the armpit of Alberta. And I had good reason, y’know!
Back in July, during the Calgary Stampede, the Tragically Hip played the Calgary Roundup, the outdoor concert of the year. I had wanted to go, but I totally messed up where the tickets were sold (stupid me, I thought it was Ticketmaster), and by the time I’d realised it … it was too late. Sold out, and I was out of luck.
This is what brought me to Red Deer.
For me, 2012 was a bad year. Between a host of medical issues (brutal chest cough that led to pulled muscles, to appendicitis, to strep throat, a couple nasty colds-cum-killer flus, and a minor outpatient surgery), ridiculous amounts of stress, the ever-present struggle of being a parent to young children, a general malaise, and an unfulfilled burning need to travel, it’s truly a wonder I got out of bed in the morning.
So it wasn’t with any reservation that 2012 walked out of my life on Monday night, yet it still managed to leave me rather depressed. Sadly, 2013 woke me up looking already a lot like 2012, so I’m not sure if I’m able to look at this new year with much hope yet. Instead, I suppose I shall have to try harder to make things work more my way.
This not to say that I “didn’t like” 2012. It’s hard not to like an entire year in one’s life, especially one that brings so many new things to learn and experience. I just wish it hadn’t been so darned painful…
Photo by Geoff S.
Every year, so far able to be said to be “like clockwork”, we have Afternoon Tea on New Year’s Day. So far, every time has been at a Fairmont hotel (three times at the Banff Springs, once at the Hotel Vancouver), and I don’t suppose that tradition is likely to change any time soon. Though we’re definitely needing to branch out to other Fairmonts, and my sights are definitely set on the Empress in Victoria.
This year’s event was quieter, being just the four of us. Whereas last year we had more guests than the combined attendance of all previous NYTs, we intentionally kept it light and simple.
In fact, this year’s annual Tea almost didn’t happen.
I’ve turned into my dad. Really. I’ve got to be the hardest person on the planet to buy for. My poor wife pestered me for weeks to expand on my Christmas list (she pre-populated it with: “If you don’t add anything, you get a vasectomy!”), and I amounted to two things: sweatpants, and a new silicone scraper for the kitchen.
So leave it to my sister to — yet again — pull off a miracle. She has a knack for this. I don’t know where she’s acquired this skill, but she’s got it down and I’m fairly envious of it. (I struggle every year to return the favour. I suck at it.) Last year it was the most comfy sweatshirt I’ve ever owned. This year? She delivered to me one of the most whiz-bang things I think I’ve ever been given:
When I have those moments when I think I’ve gotten too old, and I think I’m starting to feel like my age, I’m thankful for sudden sustained bursts of activity that remind me that, really, I just lead a much duller life than I used to, and my exhaustion is usually due to lack of sleep than from trying to do too much.
Heck, it even makes me feel a bit young! Ish. Sort of.
Except for the prolonged yawning, anyway.