Friends from university

Pretty much keep with the trend, I woke late again. When I walked out of the bedroom, though, I found the door to Craig and Cathy’s bedroom open. Given the time of the morning, I assumed Craig would be asleep. I peered in to see if perhaps he had simply not closed the door.

“Good morning, Geoff…” a voice from behind said. I damn near had a heart attack.

Craig was still awake, playing solitaire on the computer in the third bedroom. He looked like hell, like he hadn’t slept in days. To some degree, it wasn’t far from reality — while Craig had been catching sleep, the schedule of his workload was certainly taking its toll. Craig was staying awake a while longer to try and reset his sleeping schedule. I remembered my days of looking like him, when I worked hours far beyond reason.

Those are days I do not miss.

I showered, shaved, dressed, and hopped in Craig’s car. I was off to Waterloo to visit more friends, and take a little trip down memory lane. That journey started before I even left Oakville town limits. I was amazed at the amount of construction that seemed to stretch endlessly. I hadn’t driven north on Trafalgar Road for quite some time, and my memory of farmland was replaced with subdivisions.

I drove quickly, soon arriving at the 401, where I started my trip west. The first thing I noticed was the dramatic increase in truck traffic that now seemed to plague the highway. Back in the days I used to drive it to Waterloo, trucks averaged maybe 1/3 of the vehicles on the road. Now they numbered well over half — maybe as many as 2/3 in some places. The second thing I noticed, which I’ve noticed before, is that everyone in this province has slowed down far too much. No-one exceeds the speed limit anymore.

The trip to Waterloo was quite uneventful. There were a few new things along the way, but mostly the scenery was as I remembered it. The only major difference was more construction where the #85 joins with King St. This was a hated junction for me, because the on-ramp and off-ramp were too close together, and probably caused too many accidents, hence the new overpass they were building.

University Avenue wasn’t too different. There were a few things that had changed, mostly stores, but nothing really stood out any differently than it had from my university days. I pulled into the University of Waterloo campus, and went in search of a parking spot. My meagre memory told me there would potentially be spots in the parking lot wedged between the Davis Centre, Biology 2, and Engineering 3.

Imagine my surprise to find a new building there.

It was the first of several new things to find on campus. This was the long-awaited Environmental Engineering building, planned from when I was an undergrad. I would later find the new Co-operative Education building, a new student residence, and some changes to old buildings (such as the upgraded Engineering Lecture Hall). It wasn’t the same campus I had known, but it wasn’t far off.

I met up with Kim outside the Davis Centre library. We headed off to the Campus Centre strip mall, adjacent to the Engineering buildings. We went to a new Persian restaurant that offered some rather interesting cuisine. Despite being fast food, I had a wonderful dish made of chicken in a pomegranate and walnut sauce.

Kim asked for a ride to Conestoga Mall. She had a gift card to spend at the HBC stores, and Zellers was the nearest store she could get to. Without a car, she had no easy way to get up there (a bus takes forever), and me with a car, it all seemed like a good plan. Besides, I had nothing else better in mind to do.

After sucking up all but the remaining $0.40 of her gift card, we headed back in the direction of the university. We got sidetracked by Chapters. Kim needed a guide book for Dublin, Ireland. She’s going there for a conference, proof that Kim not only knows what she’s doing in her line of study, but also that she knows how to save enough money to do it on her own.

We headed back to the university, guidebook in hand, and did a little driving tour around the campus, so I could see what had changed. We even went over to the Columbia Lake Townhouses to view the expansion. And it’s quite an expansion — an entire new set of buildings, which are quite a bit more impressive than the ones I had lived in many years ago. I mentally wished that the new units are built better than the ones I lived in.

We ended up parking in the south lot of the university, so Kim could show me her office and the pictures of her last trip to Ireland. Before long, though, I had run out of time and had to head back to Oakville. As far as I knew, I had to be back by 16:00 so Craig could go to work. It was already well past 15:00.

I’d never driven so fast down a highway before … well, in Ontario, at least. The trip back was a little frustrating, mostly due to people cruising in the driving lanes. But I made excellent time, getting back to Trafalgar Rd. in a length of time that was exceedingly short. The plethora of trucks, however, caused me to miss my exit. As it turned out, it was a fortunate happenstance, since I got to take the much quicker 407 instead. Calling Craig to let him know I was running a little late, I found out he didn’t need the car until 17:30, which gave me ample time to not only vacuum out the car, but wash it, too.

Not long after getting back to Cathy and Craig’s, my phone rang. It was Duncan, an old friend and roommate from university. We had made loose plans to meet up, and had more or less solidified them over the course of the day. We would join forces at the Jack Astor’s at Square One, at 19:30.

The last time I’d seen Duncan was sometime in 1997, though I honestly can’t remember when. He was a roommate in my last year of university, the two of us having met a couple of years earlier in my first rhetoric class. We’d hit it off and have been friends ever since. Just before we’d moved in with each other (and another friend of mine, Mike), Duncan had met Marla, who was working on her Psychology Masters at the time. They were married last year.

I arrived at the restaurant mere seconds after they did. Despite it having been almost eight years since I’d last seen Duncan, and even longer since the last time I’d seen Marla, I recognized them immediately. Duncan didn’t really look any different. Marla, however, had gained a little weight … about nine month’s weight, if you know what I mean.

I know far too many pregnant people.

None of us had eaten, so took a table, ordered some food, and began a 2+ hour conversation trying to catch up on most of a decade. It really brought to life the need to see old friends a little more frequently than I do. It made me wish that I’d seen my old roommate Scott when I’d been in Waterloo earlier in the day (but hadn’t thought about it until that point).

Things I need to change. Too many people, and never enough time.

We talked until Marla looked really tired. Considering that she was only two weeks from giving birth, I could hardly blame her. We parted ways, all of us wishing that we could have spent more time, and Marla wishing she could have had a beer.

I returned home, the clock ticking louder than ever.

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