Okay, this time I've REALLY taken off my travelin' shoes. Honest. See - there they are in the back corner of my closet.
I have just returned home from another week away, this time in the far-less-glamourous (and much-less-smokey) city of my birth: Winnipeg. My time in Winnipeg is always a swirly mixture of eager anticipation and dread, fun and boredom, happiness and sorrow. It's great to see my family, but I'm never there long enough and people usually end up with their feelings hurt and fighting over me. (Sidenote: This used to drive my ex crazy. She didn't see why I put up with the snide comments and manipulation. Once she accused me of actually liking it. I quickly set her straight.) To tell you about my rollercoaster time there, I shall divide it up into the different people with whom I visited:
As you know, my relationship with my dad is not ideal. He's a long-time alcoholic who still acts like he's 16 years old. Most of the females he has dated since my ex-step-mom left him 2 years ago have been my age or younger and have been...oh, how can I say this nicely? Alcohol-soaked bar flies who used my dad for his money and generous spirit? Yeah, that has a nice ring to it. Well now he's dating someone one year OLDER than he is that he met at a pig roast! She's lovely and the two of us got along quite well. Normally when I visit my dad, he drinks rye and cola, I drink diet cola or water, and we sit on his couch and watch movies on his gigantic screen TV while I inhale 2 packages of second-hand smoke each day. This time, though, I hung out with his girlfriend and went shopping and got a pedicure instead. It was nice. Oh, there was still a lot of TV-watching on my part and rye-drinking on his part. And karaoke. My dad is a regular at a beer parlour on north Main Street and they have karaoke every Friday night. I tried to escape it but I couldn't - he wanted me to go experience the fun for myself. He wanted to show me off to all of his drinking buddies, including the guy who couldn't talk due to years of inhaling household chemicals, the 350-lb biker dyke with the black eye, and T-Bone, who only communicates by grunting. It was an interesting night, I must say. Oh yes, and my dad and I sang a lovely rendition of Bye Bye Love.
I love staying in my grandma's house. I have my own bedroom, bathroom, and television in her basement. She cooks me delicious meals (I'd stab someone with a chef's knife to get at her buttermilk pancakes and chokecherry syrup). We go shopping, we play crib, we go for walks, she does reflexology on my feet. I adore my grandma. However (you knew there was a however, didn't you?), she tends to drive me a bit crazy. She points at my hair and says, "Did the hairdresser mean to do that?" She squints at my year-old, snazzy winter jacket and says, "You've been wearing that old thing for 15 years! Let's go get you a new one." She also jealously guards her time with me against anyone else, especially my dad. "You've stayed at your dad's for 3 night and only 2 nights with me. When are you coming back to my place?" she'll inquire. Sigh. This time she was actually quite understanding. She knew she'd be seeing me for Christmas and that I hadn't seen my dad for almost a year, so she allowed unequal visiting time. She also bought me a new winter coat because she didn't like my old one and a new pair of shoes because she didn't like the ones I was wearing. I drew the line when she suggested making an appointment for a hair cut with her hairdresser.
Uncle Steve is recovering nicely from his operation. It was great to spend some time with him. He cooked me breakfast one day and lunch on another. He drove me places, even though he's not supposed to be driving much yet. We talked about books we were reading (me: Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan; him: Death at Sandringham House by C.C. Benison), good movies we had watched (me: Martian Child; him: Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time ever), delicious new recipes we've discovered (me: Curry Zucchini Soup; him: Mediterranean Salad) and recent obsessions (me: taking photos of homeless people; him: finding cheap organic tomatoes). It was a little startling to see him looking so skinny and moving so slowly but his sense of humour was still there, thank goodness.
I don't often spend a lot of time with Auntie Beth. She's my dad's sister and I've never been especially close to anyone on my dad's side of the family. They're not what you would call a loving bunch. Nonetheless, my aunt wanted to get together for supper with me one night and introduce me to her girlfriend, Lola. We went to a Chinese buffet restaurant (bleh) and actually had a pretty good time. Even though I don't know her very well, I like Auntie Beth. It took me FOREVER to figure out her roommates were more than roommates. Even after I knew they slept in the same bed, it still didn't dawn on me they were anything but friends. I was a slow child. Give me a break - it took me almost 25 years to figure out I was attracted to both men and women. (We'll save that for another entry.)
Jane and I have been friends since university. Here's the story of how we met. It was my very first semester of my very first degree. I walked into my first French class and scanned the room for a friendly face. I saw someone who looked interesting and sat at the table in front of her. The tables sat groups of two - why I didn't sit with this potentially-interesting person, I'll never know. As the room filled up, a really odd-looking woman entered and looked for a place to sit. "Please don't sit here, please don't sit here...ah crap." She ended up being as weird as she looked. The next day, I made a beeline for the interesting woman's table and said, "I don't want to be stuck with that weirdo as a conversation partner all semester!" We laughed, bonding over the poor weirdo's weirdness. That was Sharon. (The interesting person, not the weirdo.) Sharon was friends with Jane and introduced us. Today, I haven't spoken to Sharon in years but Jane and I remain good friends. Sadly, she lives in Winnipeg and I don't get to see her much. I managed to see Jane not once but TWO WHOLE TIMES while I was there! It was great. There was beer involved and, on one of the occassions, her equally fantastic and hilarious sweetie.
Princess is a relatively new friend. We met through work - she works in the Winnipeg office, I work in the Regina office. Her position required her to take trips to Regina every now and then. We clicked immediatley and even though she no longer works for the same company, we've kept in touch. Before I left, I informed her that I would be visiting her city and that I'd love to get together one night. When I called her from my dad's house to see what she wanted to do, she informed me she was kidnapping me Saturday evening and not returning me until Sunday afternoon. She had a whole big adventure planned out - dinner, beer, dancing, and brunch the next morning. (My dad and my grandma weren't very happy about losing one night to someone outside of the family!) We ate sushi for dinner (delicious!), met up with her husband, Jane, and Better Than Awesome Paul for drinks (goofy good fun), and went dancing until the wee hours at a club located in an old bank, complete with the carved stone pillars and high tin ceilings. The next morning, while we were getting ready to go for brunch to a little bakery/eatery down the street, we heard on the news that a guy was stabbed to death in the very same nightclub where we were dancing to "Sexyback"! We both agreed that I should tell my family we were at a different club - one where there were no fatalities!
And that was my trip. I'm good until at least next summer or fall, when I'll have to do it all again. One of these days I'm going to take a secret trip to Winnipeg where I just tell Princess and Jane.