Saturday, October 18, 2014

Leaning Into the Turns

Where did you come from, sweet stranger? 
I've known you for two hours and all I can think of is kissing you. 
You showed up at the cafe with your retro motorbike and an extra helmet for me, and I put my arms gingerly around you, expecting to be terrified as we roared away. Instead, I fell in love.
With the bike. The bike. I hardly know you

But I want to.
You're easy to talk to.
Or you would be, if I didn't get so flustered every time we made eye contact that I stammer and reach for my water glass. Which would be fine, except it's been empty for the past ten minutes. 

I have no context for this. This is why I've never 'dated'. When you meet people through work you have a mutual background, mutual friends, mutual lifestyles.
You rehearse, say,  a show together. You are thrown into the pressure cooker and you become close. Also, you have a reason to be together, every day.

But we steal time together around our work. Our decidedly non-mutual work.
An impulsive coffee date four days ago and I've seen him every day since.
I learn to love the feeling of the wind against my body as we roar down the highway. I learn to wrap my arms and legs around him, lean into the turns, shout conversation at red lights. On the bike, I feel totally safe with him.

He drops me off at home and we kiss in the alley at the back of my house. And kiss. And kiss.

Until the shadowy neighbourhood tomcats are jealous
Until our noses are cold
Until my brain turns to mush 
Until we disengage, reluctantly, and kiss again, and wave goodbye. It's 1:30 am. I get up at 7. 

I don't know what this means. I don't know what this is. I don't know if that matters.

Today I am tired, running on empty after my late night. Sitting on my hay wagon, singing children's songs to enthusiastic strangers, I remember the cause of my late night, and grin.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thanks. Giving.

I'm "home" again. Wow. From a town of 250 to the big city. I'm budgeting like crazy these days, so Vancouver's coffee bars and restaurants are mostly off-limits to me as I try for the first time in my life to save money, to live within my means. It's actually kind of exciting to do this after years of turning a blind eye to financial planning.

I literally don't have a moment to re-aquaint myself with my city; it's full-time hours at the pumpkin patch for the first time in years and although it's hard to get up early in the morning, I enjoy the job so much that I can't complain. I'd rather have the routine (and the paycheque) of work than be floating aimlessly.

Time, as always, becomes elastic; it's as if I've never been away and yet there are changes, of course there are. The baby cat has become an adult in my absence; businesses have closed, or opened, or burned down; best of all: I have new friends from the north who I now know and love right here in my city. After an amazing summer I have new confidence which I bring to my work, my home life... Even the Vancouver rain can't bring me down. Yet.

I love my pumpkin patch job, did I already say that? It's been at least a dozen years since I began there (good lord) and it changes a little bit every year but basically the combination of outdoors and music and goofiness and routine is just perfect for me. Today I had to fill in for the Pumpkin Princess, and as I pranced around in a borrowed wig and costume, waving a wand made of a leafy twig I'd found, I figured that I was either the luckiest 40 year-old in the world, or the most pathetic. I lean towards the former.

Today was a funny day at the patch. The power kept going out on stage, leaving the band high and dry. I had to fill in for someone, hence the Pumpkin Princess role. It got rainier as the day went on, so it was quieter than usual. I forgot that my friend wasn't working there today, so I took the long way to work. I dropped my brand-new smartphone on the sidewalk, resulting in scratches on my new baby. My accordion straps parted ways from the instrument, only minutes into my shift.  Then, as I finished singing to a wagon-load of people, a 6 year-old girl said to me "Can I have your hand for a minute?" Bemused, I gave her my right hand; she took it in hers and held it to her forehead. "Oh, she's blessing you," her mom told me. Slightly weird, and yet her blessing jolted me out of my frustration and reminded me to be grateful and happy for what I have.

I went on the first of my internet-induced dates the other night. He's too old, of course. I've been with older guys but he looks like an old man and his hands are too small. I don't think I can feel attracted to him. But he has a lovely smile, he's funny and smart, we have a lot in common. We sit over a fifteen dollar sushi meal and talk for hours. He walks me home, we kiss chastely. I don't want to be a tease, but at the same time I don't want to let him go out of my life because we have a connection, whatever it is. I like his emails a lot... I guess we'll figure it out as we go. I have another date with someone else on Tuesday.

Not to mention dinner with family, friends... I finish every bite of the chicken and roast veggies on my plate, cooked by my brother who is also a friend and room mate, and I know that I am a lucky girl. And a happy one. Thanksgiving indeed.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Transitions. Again.

Kelowna.
I get up early this morning, determined to get my sweat on before I spend the rest of the day sampling wine and nibbles at various wineries with my dad and his lady. It's a tough life here in the Okanagan. Since my dad lives halfway up a mountain, there are two choices facing a runner in this neighbourhood: straight up then straight down, or straight down then straight up. As I like to get the shit part over with first, I choose the former option. I get a respectable 5k in before breakfast. Also planking, also squats. My life includes a lot of 30-day challenges these days as I strive to find new ways to keep fit. I love knowing that I can do things (like running uphill without dying; like 70 squats and it's no big deal) that I couldn't do a year ago. Exercise, in its own way, is as addictive as food, as cigarettes. When I don't do it now, I feel weird. We'll see if this survives into one of Vancouver's horrible rainy winters. I hope so. Yesterday I spent over 8 hours in a car with one of my best friends and her husband as we left the Cariboo behind and came to warmer climates. Today I am defiantly wearing a short skirt despite looming clouds. I'm not quite ready to admit it's Fall.

I've joined a dating website, because why not? A friend of mine did, and now she's waxing lyrical about her new-true-love. I hope it works like that for me, but even if it doesn't I'll probably have some interesting coffee dates. I check for new messages, deleting the ones who are clearly just trolling for fish, any fish (do you really want to be my friend, mister man from Illinois? I don't really do long-distance, you know...) and reading with amusement the new notes I get every day or two from guys who seem interesting or quirky. Most of them are a bit older than me, but that seems to be my prime demographic these days. I have no problem with older guys, and no, I don't think that I have Daddy issues. (Maybe I should check with my dad, since I'm visiting him. Nope, maybe not.) I click on various pictures and try to find truth in the faces there. I try and judge more by words than by images because how can you quantify chemistry in a photo? I just can't. I think of the people who've struck sparks in me lately and I know that no website, no algorithm, no surveys would have linked us together. We'll see.
Transitions, again. New times, new jobs, new life...

I am a former couch potato in search of the perfect exercise-fueled endorphin high.
I am a former financial idiot with a new budgeting app and the will to use it.
I am a former historical interpreter looking for a new line of work.
I am a summer-small-town dweller heading back to the big city.
I am trying to leave old loves, hurt and expectations behind and find new adventures.
I cross my fingers, take a deep breath, and leap into the semi-unknown, again.



Monday, September 29, 2014

Saying Goodbye

My friend D came to our last show yesterday afternoon with her 5 year-old twin girls. At one point I came onstage and sang my ballad, "Over the Hills". One of the twins began to cry, tears streaking down her face. D asked her what was the matter and she replied "This song is about saying goodbye".  

Goodbye to rehearsals and more rehearsals. Goodbye to my beloved double bass. Goodbye to blissful days off at Bowron Lake, and paddle board trips and floating down the river with pool noodles. Goodbye to blasting Katy Perry in Tanya's car, The Bumblebee, and listening to Graeme change the lyrics to something much ruder. Goodbye to movie nights at the Panabode, and playing new songs at cabarets. To biking, swimming, running. To espressos on the porch before heading through the stage door to work. To 30-day challenges, eating healthy, and sometimes chucking it all in for way too many sour candies or desserts at the Bear's Paw.  Goodbye to another amazing ArtsWells with plenty of friends to dance with (for once!). Goodbye to the best weather I can ever remember having up here, and the best people to enjoy it with. Goodbye to frustration and drama at work, and also to tons of laughter and unexpected delight, both onstage and off. To old friends and new friends and letting go of old, useless loves. To birthday parties for a landmark year. Goodbye to living in the 1860's, to corsets and petticoats, tourists and gold. 

There's gold enough for everyone
For those who're brave enough to come
To leave their homes and sail today 
Over the hills and far away

O'er the mountains and the streams
To all the towns on Williams Creek
My heart commands and I obey
Over the hills and far away

When duty calls me I must go
Back to the ones left long ago
But part of me will always stray
Over the hills and far away

But I would rather go with you
And look for gold in Cariboo
Along the road to come-what-may
Over the hills and far away...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Chocolate Beet Cake

The chocolate comes from the theatre where I worked all summer.
Selling popcorn in the back, grabbing sodas and corn, the chocolate didn't sell
so I get three bars for less than the price of two, 72 percent dark
from where it sat for months, listening to me sing
hearing me laugh,
and tease my friends, and meet the audience.
Everyone's hungry before a show.

The beets come from the veggie box
I split with friends down the road.
I worked with one of them but he left us
We're still friends though
and every week he sorts through the vegetables and brings me half
Right now we are besieged by beets
so I looked up this recipe

The espresso came from Bill & Claire's gallery.
Fair trade, dark and delicious.
They gave it to me free but I bought pottery
so it balances out I guess.
We visited the old church where they make their art;
Caught them just in time before a road trip.
They believe in me; no matter how frivolous I am
they believe that my art can make a difference

Flour from the house we live in, Eve & I
belonging to friends who are on the road.
We make a mess, we prep, we pre-heat the oven;
a girlfriend arrives with wine
I read the recipe, Eve stirs and Margaret pours refills
I am foggy with sadness and yet I am full of joy.
And when the cake comes out of the oven I recognize the taste:
sweet, dark, earthy-rich.
My life tastes like this.

I miss you, I miss you, I miss
the idea of you.
But truth is, I have friends to laugh and cry with
and love will come.
This much I am learning:
Old hurts are patched over by new ones
New ones are made bearable by
good friends
red wine
and chocolate beet cake.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I get up in the morning and walk Bosco the dog, whom I'm dog-sitting while his owner is out of town, running a race in Alberta. Our walk takes us through the Meadow, so that the dog can run around off-leash and I can follow behind him, or ahead of him while he side-tracks in the bush. Then I hear the slappity-slap of little dog feet and he is hurtling towards me, mouth open and tongue flopping as he dashes to catch up.

Sunday morning we sketch a big loop around and through town, ending at the farmers' market where I tie Bosco up out of food's way and discover that The Bread Peddler (AKA Kate and Tim from up the road) has baked ginger-chocolate scones. I buy one and munch it, the chocolate chips liquid and melting, fresh from the oven.

Tuesday I hike with Stan and Graeme up up up to Groundhog Lake. We walk though Barkerville so early that the draft horses are still running loose along the road. The cloud cover is low, and as we get up to 5700 feet the treetops are so dusted with frost that it looks as though all colour is being leached out of the world. The lake is in a bowl; on one side is a public-use cabin and on the other side Mount Agnes rises in a ragged rocky curve. Today we can't see the summit but it's still spectacular.

Today we do our show for three friends who are leaving us after working with us all summer. Two of them are my best girl friends and I can't even imagine how it's going to be up here without them.  They clap, they giggle, they cheer, they galvanize the rest of the audience and us and we do one of the best shows we've done in a long while.

Movie nights with pickles-and-cheese. Family dinners before people start leaving. A new home to house-sit. Playing music at the Bear's Paw tonight to a packed house. September I write my love letter to this place while the days tick by and life gets ready to change again.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Discombobulation

The end of the main season always gets to me.

The weather and the leaves are changing faster than you can say fall in the mountains.

Friends are leaving; staff is being reduced to a skeleton crew all over town. There are parties, too many drinks, and tearful goodbyes.

On top of this, I have had a whirlwind week, riding some incredible emotional highs as I celebrated my birthday and had a lot of fun (maybe a little too much fun) with my friends and co-workers.

We have also had an extremely intense month at the theatre: someone left the company in early August, was replaced by another performer, we rehearsed like mad; then someone else got sick so we had to re-jig everything again; then again as they recovered and got worked back into the show. We had to plaster cheat sheets all over the stage and wings just so we could remember the show order(s). It made us a very tight little unit, very close, with a ton of laughs, and the kind of intense friendships that are formed in the face of adversity. This weekend we had to say goodbye to 3 of those people, as their contracts don't last to the end of September.

We get 2 days off after Labour Day- I went north to the nearest big city, to spend way too much of my hard-earned paycheque on new clothes and unhealthy food. My stomach feels yucky from over-indulgence. My heart is sad. The big city was ugly and rainy. I tried to have a good time, and I was glad I'd gone- in a way- because I needed a change of scene, but all I wanted was to be home.

And now I am. Home in this tiny town with my new clothes and some new books, getting ready to adjust to the shoulder season. There is a lot of fun to be had in the fall, and I look forward to the weeks ahead, but this weekend always gets to me, every single year.