Wednesday August 9, 2017 (Canada)
This is it! After a night of intense packing, we went to sleep in preparation for… a morning of intense packing! My parents had arrived in Guelph on the night of the 4th and brought with them the last physical remnants of my Cobourg life. Sandra and I now had our entire lives in one location, which was a good start. Then came the task of separating everything into five basic categories:
- Trip items required for the journey itself
- Items required only upon arrival in Victoria
- Items required after moving into a semi-permanent residence in Victoria
We'd already done most of the categorization, but there was certainly a last-minute dash to make sure we had everything ready for the trip. We had a lovely pancake breakfast with two sets of parents and then departed for a family reunion. The idea was that lining up the departure with the family reunion would work out pretty well. Get to see a bunch of family and say a lot of goodbyes all at once before heading off. Oh, and why not throw my birthday into the mix, too?! August 5th. What a day.
One important item we brought along on the trip was a wonderful "Road Trip Fun Book" given to us by Sandra's coworkers. It had gift certificates for Shell, Bulk Barn, and Tim Horton's. I couldn't imagine a more important trifecta for Canadian road trip gift cards! Also included in the booklet are various games and challenges: US/Canada license plate checklists, finding VW Beetles in various colours, "spot that car model", and so on. Word has it that the booklet was such a smash hit that additional copies have already been requested by parties in the know!
On the way out to the family reunion we made one last stop at Sandra's family farm just north of Guelph. We visited the cows, Sandra pet Sparky the cat, and I took a bunch of pictures. Another big "goodbye" to family before continuing onward to Baxter, Ontario for the family reunion.
The reunion itself was graciously hosted by my cousin Matthew Bray and his wife Christine. There was a great turnout and the weather held out well for us. There was a whack of delicious food on offer: fresh corn, various grilled meats, and buttertarts! Yum! Sandra and I had some great chats with family, and before we knew it the clock was well past 6pm and it was time to leave. Our path was to take us up to Sandra's cottage near Sundridge for the night, while my mom and dad were headed back to the family homestead in Cobourg.
It's weird, though. When it was time say goodbye to my parents (whom I've been living with since we got back from our big trip around the world!), I was surprisingly smiley. Mom and Dad seemed to be getting emotional, but I felt really nonchalant about the affair for some reason. The feeling didn't last. More on that later.
We drove up to the cottage without incident. By the time we hit Sundridge, we were greeted with a pleasant sunset at the Foodland. We stocked up on a few items to help us along the way, and I had a good chuckle at the asking rate for life-sized wooden carvings of confused, cross-eyed wizards. The Sundridge Foodland has their work cut out for them asking $450 for that… piece of work. I was also pleased to see that the extensive Canadian dessert selection included a jar of mayonnaise: every true Canuck's go-to party confection in a pinch. Out of ice cream? No problem! Let's bust out the Hellman's, baby! It's time to celebrate!
And then we arrived at the cottage! It was starting to get late. Close to midnight. And I realized that my birthday was about to end. Although I'd received a plethora of happy birthday wishes (thanks everybody!), somehow it felt like Sandra and I hadn't really "done" anything. I always love to see friends and family on my birthday. And I'd certainly done that! But I couldn't escape the feeling that it was just a birthday of goodbyes. This evolved into me gradually becoming a teary, blubbering mess. Some full-on crying. I've only cried once since meeting Sandra, and those were happy wedding tears!
It really started to hit me that I wouldn't be able to take those beautiful afternoon walks along the lake with my folks in Cobourg. I'm sure going to miss Mom and Dad. All of the ambivalence I'd been feeling earlier in the day evaporated, leaving behind a sense of mourning for all the potential opportunities to spend time with my family that were being lost. I was trés bummed, to say the least.
After emerging from my funk (with much support from my lovely wife), I've been reminded of a few things. The first is that change can often be painful. But that's not a reason to shy away from it. The second is: although I may be sacrificing some opportunities to spend time with my family and loved ones, I'm also creating many new opportunities simultaneously. I'm focusing on all of the wonderful times we're sure to have in Victoria instead of being upset about the times I'll no longer have in Cobourg.
And with that, we've begun! It wasn't necessarily the smoothest beginning (or birthday), but we continue westward with smiles on our faces!