On the second leg of my trip home, I struggle again to get my heavy backpack up in the overhead compartment and collapse into my seat. I am by the window and there is a young guy in the isle seat. The one between us is empty and as the plane slowly fills up it stays that way. As the last few passengers trickle in we look at each other with disbelief. "Wouldn't it be great if no one had this seat?" I say. "Yeah." he replies, "I hope it stays that way." We hold our breath as the last two passengers walk towards us. They keep going. YAY! He quickly moves his bag from under the seat in front of him to under the one in the middle. I tell him that I will put my bag in the space between his bag and the seat once we are up high enough that it doesn't have to be stowed and he is fine with it. I put my water-bottle and thick book on the empty seat so that it isn't taking up the few precious inches of space between my knee caps and the back of the seat in front. That is much better!
He and I get to talking and he tells me that he won this trip from work. He works for Dell computers and he placed high in sales last quarter. He and a few other colleagues are spending 5 days, all expenses paid, in Whistler. He hasn't been there before and wants to know what it is like. I gladly tell him and as I do, it feels SO GOOD to be the one who knows what it is like where we are going, and that I am going home. He gets two free excursions with the package and is going golfing but can't decide between white water rafting or zip lining. I tell him to find out which is the more expensive, use the voucher to pay for that and then instead of using his whole $50 allowance for lunch, go to McDonald's or somewhere cheap for a couple of days and pay for the other because both is spectacular and not to be missed. He thinks that is a great idea and says that is what he will do.
I pull out my laptop and get the events of the morning onto it before I forget exactly what happened and then, once my battery runs out, doze or read. It doesn't seem too long before I spot a big mountaintop poking up through the clouds. It's Mt. St. Helen's, easy to identify by the misshapen peak from the big blow up in '80. Sure enough, the pilot comes on and tells us we are beginning our descent. With all this cloud below it seems it won't be a sunny day in Vancouver.
I am wrong. Once I get my luggage, clear customs, and walk out into the reception area, I see Fran and she makes a bee-line for me. We hug. It is so great to see her and to be home. I quickly exchange the US money I have into Canadian at an exchange kiosk and then we walk out into sunshine and then into the parkade to find her car.
As we are driving away Fran tells me that we are meeting Cary for lunch at the Cactus Club in South Surrey. I am starving and really love their food and am so happy that Cary will be there. Fran, Cary and I are half of a group of moms that have met once a week or two for the past 20 years. We started out as a Mom's In Touch group but became such fast friends that we kept on meeting, even after our kids were long out of school. We always have lots to talk and laugh about when we meet and today will be no exception.
We arrive at Cactus Club and take a set on the patio. It's gorgeous out here with long bench seats that have fat cushions scattered on them and even soft lap blankets lying here and there. There is a cool fire pit that looks more like a coffee table on fire, surrounded by couches. The sun is streaming down and I am just loving this. We order some yam fries and I have an Arnold Palmer to start while we wait for Cary. She calls after a bit saying she will be late and to order her a fish taco. Once she gets here it's almost like I never left. We keep up a constant stream of chatter as we get caught up in each others lives. It seems not much has happened since I was gone. Fran comments on how, in the past 5 weeks, my life has been this crazy adventure with so much happening, and yet at home nothing unusual has occurred; life has just plodded along here. Well that is fine with me. One thing that has happened while I was away is all the spring flowers have come and gone. I love gardening and eagerly anticipate the profusion of color that bursts forth in the Lower Mainland once spring arrives. I feel kind of like you would if you found out a good friend from far away had been in town while you were gone. It's a bit sad, really. However, I get over it and we eat and gab and have a great time. As we are winding down and getting ready to leave, Cary makes a comment to me about this being a new start and, hopefully, I will get some 'wind in my sails'. I look at her askance and she slaps her hand over her mouth. "Oh, I am so sorry. Not a good metaphor at all." I laugh and tell her it's fine. "Let me see. What can I say instead?" her face screws up as she tries to come up with something more appropriate. Her next attempt is almost as bad but I can't recall what it was. We laugh and I tell her I appreciate the sentiment.
We decide to go look through some of the stores to see if we can find birthday presents for Lorraine. She is turning 50 on Monday and, although I won't be there while the mom's celebrate at Northview Golf Club, I want to make sure I send a gift along. We comb through Winners and I find a gorgeous, large glass apothecary jar. I'd love to own it myself, and it's the sort of thing that goes with any decor. It would look great Lorraine's bathroom full of soap or on the kitchen counter full of her fabulous biscotti. I buy it.
We go into Urban Barn so Fran can buy a picture that Bethany, her daughter, wants. She and Chad have just bought a new apartment and she saw this picture and asked her mom to get it for her birthday. Fran points out the chic brown couch that the newlyweds just purchased and she tells me to sit on the chaise part at the end to see how comfy it is. It seems a bit on the firm side to me, but I like to sink into a couch. We say goodbye to Cary and I fit Bethany's huge picture into the backseat and we head home.
I call each of the kids when we arrive at Fran's. Christopher tells me he is just leaving work and decides to drop by Fran's place on his way home. I fling open the door when he arrives, and we hug for a long time. I am so happy to see him and have missed him so much. He comes upstairs with me and the three of us have a great hour, laughing and catching up. My kids love Fran and she has always been so great to them. All too soon, Christopher has to leave as he has somewhere to be and needs to get home and shower. I reluctantly let him go as I know I won't see him again before I leave for Kelowna, and I don't know when I will be back.
Tom is away in Pemberton on his annual men's get-away so we will have the house to ourselves tonight. We talk about renting a movie and having a girls only night but by the time we clean up from a light dinner, we are both so bagged that we end up turning in early. At some point after we get home, I realize I left my pashmina scarf somewhere during the day. I know I had it when I left the Cactus Club. I get the phone number for Winners but they aren't very helpful. I call Urban Barn and they tell me they found it on the couch. Fran insist that we will make a trip out there to get it over my protests that it isn't worth it. She says she wants to buy a hanging basket at a nursery near there anyway. I know Fran and I know she is saying that so I won't insist that she needn't run out all that way just for my scarf.