I have a confession – flying sucketh. That was my exact thought as I slip from my brother’s loving hug and enter the Calgary Greyhound station at 11 pm. New flying regulations took the pleasure out of boarding an advanced technological bird that brings me to Toyko in 11 hours instead of none, which use to be travel. Nothing. Flying had cataclysmically altered all that. There remains a dose of glamor to flight, but I made a choice, went in reverse.
Nowadays, I loathe the long security lines, sour agents, ridiculous procedures, and the stress inducer of sprinting to a connecting flight because after security and airlines are done with you about 7 minutes remain to make it to the gate or no Greece for you.
The greyish lighting in the station casts a sallow pall on everyone’s skin who dared enter at 11pm. My brother warned, “Don’t sit next to an Asian guy, haha.” Wait, aren’t we partly Asian? And where do people hide machetes these days?
My sad, preconceived notions of unscrubbed Greyhound stations prove true. A ragtag of travelers gather to catch the Calgary to Moosejaw bus, a lovely Ethiopian family burdened with 7 suitcases, various plastic bags full of, I don’t know what, and the father toting a retro briefcase from 1975. In the far corner of the station some cute Japanese girls decked out in I Love Canada sweatshirts and tattoos pressed to their unblemished skin chatter gently together. The only anomaly of the group is a Hispanic fella coughing is lungs out. No I Love Canada identifier is evident on him.
I scan the crowd further, the
Calgary isn’t all flat, here’s proof!
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July 2 is one day in Moosejaw, then I’m off to Toronto for all of July!
Happy Canada Day!!
Calgary has been nothing short of sleepy. The intention was always to land here and close up logistics.
I’ve been spending quality time with my brother and mom. A slew of food excursions and mall outings piled on the calendar, among the pleasantries of daytime TV viewing. Who knew Oprah could be so enthralling again? Not I.
To sum up, there are more gear items to purchase, bank accounts to be amended and website maintenance – it’s never ending. Would I return to the cubicle? A resounding “NO”.
As for the culture here? Alberta is officially cattle country, so a pescetarian, bohemian profile like me skirts its natural laws.
I’m positive Calgary has more SUVs, trucks and ball caps per capita than it does recycle bins. There’s not much of a walking mentality here. My slow gait garners attention on the streets. Yeah, I’m the rock star of walking.
Given my brother’s SUV (yes, shameful), I tool around in it – stopping at my high school or the house of my formative years. My childhood home underwent a drastic makeover. New roof shingles, dark green siding. I didn’t recognize it! I was sure the teenager watering the sculptured landscaping wondered who that creepy woman in the SUV was. Watching, remembering. Call the cops.
Perhaps I outgrew this town, but Calgary is a perfect city to raise kids, grab open, wide spaces and earn a comfortable wage. What I crave is adventure. To learn a new set of rules, ones that don’t involve mortgage rates or car maintenance.
So no, Calgary has far from challenged my travel survival skills, just the emotional ones.
There was a tiff or two with
The facts. My brother is 5 years older than me. In our childhood, he use to purposely upset a crucial romantic scene between Barbie and Ken by pretending to be Godzilla, storming through to rain destruction on love ever after. He loves golfing and has a successful career in computer programming. I hardly know him.
My thoughts whirred along with the baggage carousel.
Certainly we’ve had phone conversations and visits. Quips were bandied around. The harsh truth – a sense of who he is or what his dreams entail is a remote tower, impenetrable and cloudy.
I waited for him underneath a sign labeled “cell phone passengers pick up only”. Any outsider could easily pinpoint my expression. Disheveled, confused – a woman clutching her new life in a daypack, backpack, and for some odd reason – a live cat. In a pet carrier that doubles for a duffel bag. Uh huh.
Brother pulled into the pick up zone in a sleek BMW, a far cry from my car free, transit induced life in Vancouver.
We greeted each other briefly, hastily piling bags and limbs until every man, woman and cat were safely encased in the vehicle. Off we went.
One travel ingredient that hasn’t gotten tired is grounding into a foreign place. Calgary is set apart from that rule, I spent my formative years here. ‘New’ doesn’t exist in the equation.
The BMW lulled along the densely paved roads, gliding among traffic perfectly spaced apart. Then I saw them. Strip malls.
Ohh, that’s where I use to wait for my crush Brad,
As goodbyes go, my party exceeded expectations. Then again, one of my travel goals is to not have any.
No waterfall of tears to report – just laughter, hugs and good times. As it should be.
By 1:30 am I exited the party location a bit weary, but internally looking ahead.
Saturday (June 5) morning was a flurry of cat preparation as my brother graciously volunteered to care for Amelie. Clean litter box, right. Stuff cat into soft carrier, not so right. She was less than pleased to be trapped.
My sister picked me up – depositing me, the cat, Miz Chanel backpack, a ginormous litter box, and my laptop bag at Vancouver International Airport by 2:00 pm. Phew. First phase over.
What followed was a series of Jeannie foibles.
First, the flight to Calgary was delayed by 1 hour. Cat even more pissed. I brooked embarrassment, isn’t that a novice travel move? Tip: always check your flight before leaving for the airport.
Within 24 hours I:
- Brought down my brother’s gauzy curtains parting them in the middle of the night, because I prefer a little natural light filtering through. I swear, they weren’t properly installed on a curtain rod thingy. Not my fault!
- Plugged my brother’s toilet. He then tells me the toilet can only take 2 wads of toilet paper. So not my fault.
- Amelie’s litter box door unhinges, blocking the entrance, so she can’t relieve herself. She blew a number 2 in my brother’s walk in closet. Definitely her fault.
- Almost killed my brother accelerating through a yellow light, narrowly paying attention to a truck clearly braking immediately ahead of us. Pretty much my fault.
To sum up, CouchSurfing might renege my membership if this ever gets out, and always have a rocking party