Sabbatical- Day 20, Canada- A Love Story

“Tell me something I wouldn’t know about you.”

No, this is not horrible first date, break the ice banter- rather, its the bizarro version of that.

My husband and I have been married for coming up on ten years.  Our first and only night without kids on this sabbatical was an overnight trip to Nelson, BC.  As we began the three hour drive, we fell into our normal pattern of silence.  You remember that line in Pulp Fiction where Mia says something along the lines of “Isn’t it nice when you can just enjoy a comfortable fucking silence with someone?”  We have that routine down a little too well- or at least that thought was running through my head along the drive. On our big getaway, shouldn’t we be talking to each other?

I scoured my brain for a topic.  At first, I tried to think of something Ben would not know about me, but after thirteen years together, I couldn’t come up with much.  He knows my likes and dislikes, my skeletons, my “this one time” stories.  I decided to put the pressure on him, and asked what I might not know about him.

After a few moments, he admitted that while he enjoys a few KISS songs, he wouldn’t consider himself a fan.  I confessed to my dislike of the band Wings.  We learned we were opposites on our opinions of moon boots (I love, he hates).  It was a bit of a iffy start, but we regained our ability to talk to each other in terms beyond kids, house related items, and our upcoming road trip schedule.

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go to Canada.  Back in my stoner days, I would ramble off stream of consciousness devotions to Canada, and how great it would be when I finally made it there.  I had waited a long time to fulfill my Canadian dream, but the day had finally come.

We arrived at our hotel, which is a gorgeous historic building called the Hume Hotel.  We made our way to the bar and ordered local beers and poutine.  A lover of all things fried and fatty, poutine is about as good as it gets- french fries, cheese curds and gravy.  I felt a few arterties harden, but it was worth it.

We went up to our room to freshen up.  Over the course of that mere five minutes, we got into a tiff and the mood changed.  Not even a real argument- just one of those conversations where one person makes a snap comment and the other person snaps back.  When you are married, you have these sorts of exchanges all the time.  You probably shouldn’t, but somehow the day in day out sharing of life, farts, illness, bills, bad tv shows, stains, messes, and indecent exposures causes you to lose your manners. The person you once tried desperately to impress becomes the person you regularly grumble at.

I wanted to find some small gifts for our sons so we walked to visit the local shops.  What we didn’t know is that we were venturing to Canada on Canada Day.  I don’t know if it just something that happens in Nelson, or in Canada in general, but there seemed to be a deep reverence for the holiday.  Almost none of the stores were open.  The ones that remained open were closing their doors early.  It was a small difference, but something I rarely see in the United States.  Americans would never pass up the chance to make money.

We stopped in a pub for a drink and the bartender relayed that everyone was heading to a town festival in the park.  There would be bands, fireworks, even a giant cake to celebrate.  We decided to head over.

When we arrived at the park, it looked like something from a movie set.  Beautifully landscaped grasses and gardens nestled along a lake.  Literally more benches than I have ever seen in any park any where.  At one point, I counted ten benches in my immediate field of vision.

There was a small beach along the water, and it was covered with teens enjoying the summer sun.  At one point, we passed three police officers standing on the sidewalk.  A group of teenagers in surf shorts ran by.  One teen tapped the police officer on the shoulder as he jogged passed  The officer smiled that “oh you crazy kids” smile.  I looked around to see if I was being filmed for some sort of gag show.

The park was a hippie mecca.  Jam bands grooved as ladies in long flowing skirts danced and spun in circles.  Young mothers rocking babies in their arms swayed to the beat.  Couples snuggled on blankets, waving at other couples they recognized in passing.

There was a single food vendor- the park concession stand.  Again, I was amazed at this distinction.  I thought back to every festival I had ever been too, and the rows of food vendors filling orders.

The concession stand was pretty much the most adorable thing I have ever seen.   It had brightly colored birdhouses and flowers on the tables.  The interior had shelves lined with teapots, cups, and saucers.  The attendants working the counters wore bright flowered aprons and fresh faced smiles.  Again, I wondered if this scenario was rigged.  It was so wholesome it made me skeptical.

We sat on the grass to watch the band.  I glanced over and noticed Ben’s huge grin.  He did not share my cynicism.  He was just happy to be here, to be part of the town for the day.  Seeing his smile changed my internal dynamic.  I was free to forget the spat and enjoy the day.

The rest of the night was fantastic.  We ate at a cute little taco shop.  We watched the fireworks from a pub while sipping a beer.  After three weeks of camping, sleeping in cheap hotels, and crashing in other people’s houses, a hotel room to ourselves felt like a luxury.  I slept until 9am and could have slept five  hours more.

That morning, Ben and I again fell into silence, but this time we were hiking a trail.  Since we had no children with us, we could indulge in a tougher climb  The elevation gain was challenging, but we made it to the top and took the obligatory couple’s selfie.  I thought back to how many other climbs we had done together, and wondered how many of those type of pictures we had.

Canada, you are as good as I hoped you would be.  Better.  Hope to see you again next Canada Day.

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