I have traveled many miles already this month and we aren’t done yet. I have met several wonderful new friends and have been so fortunate to reconnect with special people as well.
The Internet and social media have made staying in touch relatively easy but it doesn’t replace a real handshake or a hug.
You can’t smell the ocean air and the lush green rainforest from a photo and you certainly can’t taste a proper Canadian Caesar through an Instagram post.
You also can’t catch the glint in your little sister’s eyes as her oldest child goes and graduates from high school…
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Not everyone is comfortable driving across western Montana, the Idaho Panhandle and all of Washington state in one day. (Alistair had just driven from the middle of North Dakota and through most of Montana a couple of days prior!) We are pretty comfortable with it, though, and we made sure to stop and stretch our legs along the way. Especially where the scenery was spectacular!
We crossed the border into Canada and made our stop in our old stomping grounds, Vancouver, BC. Alistair’s son, Gareth met up with us at a Canadian classic, The Keg restaurant and we caught up and shared stories for a couple of steak- and wine-filled hours.
The next day it was onto Whistler, BC, the site for Alistair’s UBC medical school class of ’83 36th-year reunion. Alistair had gone to his 10-year reunion before I met him. That was the last time he had seen most of these people who had gone through the trenches with him for 4 challenging years. I know what those years are like and I hope my veterinary class will have such high attendance at our 36th class reunion!
I admired Alistair’s prep work beforehand- getting his old yearbook out, re-reading everyone’s future plans, seeing what boyfriend or girlfriend names were and trying to envision what they would all look like after so much time had passed.
For a man who admits to not being very good at names he correctly rolled them off when we started bumping into classmates in the elevator and the lobby of our hotel. I was seriously impressed!
I finally got to meet Drs. Jenny, Alison, Brenda, Maria, Doug, Nan, Debra, Nick, Cindy, the other Brenda, and so many more. I had already met Drs Ed (he came to Creston every now & then where Alistair worked in the early 90’s) and Irma (she was at our wedding!)
We had a fun initial meet & greet, breakfast with lots of people giving interesting talks and then a golf tournament before the big banquet!
It was a cool afternoon but the rain held off and we were able to laugh our way around 18 holes with a few balls getting lost and one ball-for-the-wall. We were paired with Dr.Debra and Dr.Wally who were well matched to our games. Debra and Alistair got to catch up on their lives after med school and somehow I managed to shoot 100 for the very first time in my life!
The banquet afterwards was fun and gave everyone a bit more time to visit (which became challenging when the very loud dance music started… it was like the 80s on 8 station on Syrius radio, which I love at least…)
Only one classmate asked me how old I was, which makes us chuckle. Alistair proudly told them I was a veterinarian (which many MDs wanted to be) and then the realtor thing and the book thing would come up in conversations. Even if you ask us the basic, “Where did you two meet?” question it leads to the professional figure skater thing.
And then it was time for the final get-together at brunch on Sunday. I love that so many people stayed around for that and they got to visit without shouting at one another for another couple of hours.
Business cards were exchanged, waffles and honey butter were eaten, hugs were given and received and farewells were said. They are hoping to do this again in 4 years, maybe up in the Okanagan this time. Every single person made me feel totally welcome and I could see how much Alistair was adored and respected. Heart = happy!
On a whim (and based on Wally’s recommendation), we drove up north to Pemberton and managed to hop onto the Big Sky golf course for a great round on one of our new favorite courses!
It wasn’t crowded, the course was challenging and yet not ridiculous, they made a mean Caesar, and the entire course was beneath a towering mountain that made for some excellent photo shoots.
It tried to drizzle but the fates were on our side and we mostly stayed dry. Alistair got one ball-for-the-wall and we made it back down to Whistler in time for a fancy schmancy ($$$) meal at the Fairmont, where we had all been staying. While it was the only non-Mcmeal of the trip together and the only really romantic restaurant we ate at, we had to agree that the actual meal at the Keg with Gareth was, by far, the best food of the trip.
And then it was 13 hours in the car to get back to Seeley Lake. Then Alistair had 10 hours to get back to Bismarck and within four days I was driving 6 hours back up to our home and native land to cheer my niece on for her high school graduation.
I grabbed incredible borscht, pyrahi and voreniki at The Borscht Bowl which is owned and run by my friend, Beki and brought it to my sister’s for a relaxed supper with the nieces and nephews. (Well, Diana had to pick it up because I was only in Colville, WA when I saw Beki’s text saying they closed at 4… it was 3:50 and I had pre-ordered a boat load of food!) (I paid Diana back, though. My treat.) (You would be amazed at how quickly we got through 3 liters of borscht!)
The next day it was showtime for Kalayna and her classmates as they celebrated their senior year at Grand Forks Secondary School.
Kalayna had the most beautiful gown and she looked so lovely (and happy!) Last names of many of her classmates sounded far too familiar and I know a few of my classmates were there but nobody was expecting me (I’m Fyfe now, no longer Koftinoff, not that it matters because Kalayna’s last name is Tubrett.)
Kalayna’s brothers and sister were great companions in the ‘pov’ seats and I learned more about my phone from 6th-grade Nikolai than I have learned since buying it.
I ran into my friends, Lei-Anne and Nicole but I didn’t see Zena, Paul or my former skating coach, Amy, who were all at the ceremony. Again, why would Tanya Koftinoff be back in town? That’s fine, though, because the weekend was about Kalayna and we were able to keep it that way.
We made a point of all visiting my Nan, who is in a home now for folks with memory-related issues. I wished we had more time to spend but I’m sure it was confusing enough for all of the residents as we all swept in, with my parents, and soon after, swept away.
Then it was a family supper at the Station (the Borscht Bowl was better but the steak sammie and my Caesar were pretty good), a morning coffee with my folks, goodbyes to the family and then a short but much-needed catch up with one of my besties from school over brunch at The Omega.
Lei-Anne and I have been in touch through Facebook for years. A lot of our conversations have centered around our goofy Boston Terriers but real life sneaks in there as well. Still, nothing could compare to just sitting together (with her mom at times and also with her youngest, Jon) laughing about getting kicked out of typing class and how we giggled throughout one of our sex ed classes.
And we shared our concern about our friend who is battling breast cancer (and kicking its ass, I might add) and another who is raising her sister’s children because said sister is a mess in Vancouver. Real life.
Maybe Kalayna will have these kinds of brief, unplanned reunions when she comes back to Grand Forks 30 years from now even if she lives in another country that sometimes feels like its another planet.
Or she will have planned reunions many more moons from now with people she hasn’t been in contact with and yet the friendships will easily exist just like they did 36 years ago. (It took over a year to organize the doctors for their 35th, which is why it was a 36th reunion in case you were wondering why those whacky Canadians celebrated 36 years…)
And then it was another 6 hours back to Seeley Lake. Long enough in the truck to think about seeing if the veterinary gang from WCVM’s Class of ’05 would entertain a smaller 15-year reunion at our farm next year. Something low-key-ish that we could organize as more of a camping/Bon fire spectacular. We do have gobs of room and a guest ranch/outfitter is our neighbor…
Maybe I’ll put it out there.
The road trips to BC and back to reunion-ate and celebrate got my mind going in all sorts of fun directions. I hope you enjoyed coming along for the ride!