Kathryn comes for a visit

It’s amazing how old friends can make you feel young.

A week and four days ago, Kathryn, one of our closest friends, came out to visit us (Chris, Stuart, Therese, and myself). The five of us all went to OTHS, and though we might have graduated different years, we’ve still been fast friends, and have kept contact over the years.

Kathryn, like most of my closest friends, is an artist … specifically, the theatre arts. She’s a stage manager. Stage managers are responsible for making sure that a production goes off without a hitch. If it happens on, above, behind, below, in front, or off stage, it’s the Stage Manager who make sure it happens when it’s supposed to happen. It’s a hard job, and not everyone can do it. Kathryn lives for it.

Unfortunately, it’s also not easy to get work … especially if you’re trying to break into the Toronto scene, which Kathryn is. She’s worked for years around Eastern Ontario, but getting work in Toronto is very difficult when you’re not there to get it. This is how Kathryn ended up with two months with nothing to do. This is also how Kathryn got the time to come out for a visit.

Given, Alberta’s not the most inviting place in the middle of February … Mexico seems to be the popular destination this year for Albertans … but there are the few diehard skiers that make their way out here (despite the worst skiing conditions in years). And at least one person who came to see us, and what else was in our otherwise barren and snow-covered province.

I took a few days off, partly because I needed to (you have no idea how bad I actually needed a vacation), and partly so I wouldn’t feel like we invited someone out only to ignore them. This, in retrospect, was probably the wisest thing I did. I had no idea how badly I actually needed to take a break. Yeah, I know, I went home for Christmas … but still, I needed the break.

Kathryn came to Calgary on 15 February. I got up early that morning to finish cleaning up a bit: Vacuumed, cleaned the kitchen, wiped the floors, did a quick load of laundry, and bought a small vase of flowers for the night table (my room is a little spartan — I thought it could use a little colour and fragrance). I arrived at the airport about five minutes before Kathryn’s plane was to land. Figures that when I’m running a little late, so is Kathryn’s flight. She arrived about 45 minutes later, and was quite happy not only to be on terra firma, but in Calgary — she’d never been here before.

Soon we arrived at our apartment, where I introduced Kathryn to her temporary home from home, and our roommate, Miao Yin. That was when I realized I’m either a really good listener, or psychic. Kathryn, who grew up with two cats, has sadly become allergic to them. As such, I had made sure that my bedroom (which was where Kathryn would sleep) was Miao Yin-free, not an easy task, let me tell you. “Curiosity killed the cat” isn’t just some quaint saying.

Plopping on one of the couches, we talked for about three or so hours, when Chris finally came home. We ordered out for dinner that night, not wanting to get off to too fast a start … and not having a lot of food in the apartment worth cooking. Besides, Kathryn was dying to have Chinese served in one of those fancy paper boxes.

When bedtime finally arrived, Kathryn retired to my room. She was a little dismayed at first that I was giving up my bed, but Chris and I will quite willingly offer our beds to our guests. So yes, I can safely say that I had a beautiful woman sleep in my bed for a week…

…but I slept on the couch.

(It’s not that bad. Our couches may be ugly as sin, but they’re quite comfy.)

The next day, I Kathryn got a walking tour of downtown Calgary … from inside. The original plan had been to walk down 8th Ave to Theatre Calgary. However, the weather decided that it would disagree, and nearly froze us to death. We went into the +15 for comfort.

The +15, for those of you who’ve never of it, is an above-ground series of walkways, not unlike Toronto’s underground PATH system. Same principle, same contents, just 30 feet in the opposite direction. A movie was made about it recently, called “Waydowntown”. Kathryn thought it was quite funny. I’ll have to see it sometime.

We wound our way from the Husky building, through the parking garage (which is enclosed), through Penny Lane, and into the Eaton Centre, through the TD Centre, Home Oil Building, and ultimately into The Bay, where the trail ended. Then we braved the frigid outdoors to cross the street and duck into A&B Sound. Kathryn wanted to see was the prices were like, and hey, it never hurts to go into a music store.

Kathryn came out with nothing. I didn’t fare that lucky… (Enough with the snickering!) As we were trying to hunt down Great Big Sea’s “Play” album for Kathryn (hers had been snitched), she remembered some music I had to listen to: Afro-Celt Sound System. I’d never heard of them before, but I’m quite willing to take my friends’ advice (especially those who share musical tastes) and go out on a limb. Both albums are great!

Ducking out of A&B Sound, we braved the cold for a couple of blocks until we got to Theatre Calgary. Calgary is a strange city. Most cities have theatre areas … Calgary has a theatre block. The whole block. A BIG block. There’s a concert hall, and six or seven theatres crammed into one space. Makes a night out easy to find, I’ll say…

Kathryn is a theatre junkie, which makes sense, given her chosen profession. She wanted to see what else was playing, and if it was possible to see anything. Of the available plays, none really fell into a schedule that seemed to fit with anything. The only really interesting one was “The Vagina Monologues”, which is (from what I’ve heard) very good. Unfortunately, I could not find out if it was possible to get tickets in advance (all I got was a hard-to-understand answering machine).

Leaving Theatre Calgary (toting a large number of pamphlets for theatre information), we walked the three blocks to Critical Mass. No, I was not going to work. I was taking Kathryn on a tour, after which we were going to meet up with Chris for lunch. It wasn’t an easy tour — I was trying not to be spotted and dragged into a discussion that, really, I couldn’t care less about.

After distracting Chris from his work for about an hour and a half, Kathryn and I headed out for more exploration. Again, Calgary’s biting wind chased us indoors. This seemed like a good time to see how far we could walk in the +15. Although we had to go outside for a short while (the +15 has a few orphaned sections, due to the rapid pace of construction in downtown Calgary), we eventually found our way to the Sheraton Hotel, across the street from Eau Claire Market.

Among many things, Kathryn was looking for gifts for friends of hers whose birthdays were fast approaching. While we found nothing for them, Kathryn was overjoyed to find a store that sold British chocolates. We also purchased four bottles of wine (not to be drunk all at one time).

The walk back took us to within one block of our apartment, all indoors. After dumping our wares, we made a hasty visit to the Safeway to get groceries for dinner. I was going to attempt my first curry in months, and Kathryn was promising to make us chilli one night.

We spent another (reasonably) quiet night in, watching TV and talking amongst ourselves. My curry was a bit of a disaster (although I was immensely happy that the rice turned out beautifully) — I’m out of practice. I need to make it a bit more frequently.

Saturday was a bit of write-off as far as tourism goes. In preparation for Kathryn’s visit, I got my car tuned up and repaired … to the tune of almost $1,600. I won’t go into detail of what needed fixing, but suffice to say, it was stuff that I should have had looked at two years ago. (Unfortunately for me, at the time I had someone telling me that I was better off selling the car than getting it fixed.) It runs like a dream now — probably better than when I first got it. However, there had been one little problem — the brakes had given out a couple of days after I got the car back. I had the brakes fixed again (gratis, luckily), but I had been told to bring the car back for a double-check after I’d driven it a while. This was the first day I had the chance.

So Kathryn put up with a 2-hour wait for the 10-minute inspection. I felt really bad, because she had flown 3,000 kilometres to wander around a mall and wait for something that I should’ve done before she arrived.

During this time, we raided the nearby Costco for snack food and pop (Chris had invited people over for that evening). Normally, we drive to Costco. Anyone with an ounce of sense would drive to the Costco. Except me, of course. Figuring we had time to kill anyway, we went over to Costco and picked up two flats of pop and some frozen snacks. That was the easy part. The hard part was the walk back to the car. With two armfuls of pop and frozen food. Believe me, that stuff ain’t light. If we hadn’t stumbled across an abandoned shopping cart on our return trip, I don’t think my arms would’ve survived.

The car not having yet moved, we retreated into the mall. This was fortunate on one account — the mall had a Payless Shoe store. And Kathryn needed a new pair of shoes. They had just what she was looking for.

After wandering around for a short while, we stopped, had a drink — a mochaccino for Kathryn, and a hot chocolate for me — and shared some conversation. Kathryn and I talked a lot. About almost everything. But a lot of it, at least at first, was about how each of us were doing. Kathryn’s busy schedule only gives us brief glimpses into her life through sporadic email messages. And there are a lot of things that just don’t seem to make it into these logs — sometimes because it might make people feel uncomfortable, and sometimes because I just plain forgot.

Finally deciding that the car should be ready (they hadn’t called me), we returned to the garage to pick it up. All was well, and we were on our way. Not long after getting back, our first guest arrived — Adrian, one of our co-workers at Critical Mass. Adrian brought a unique twist to our evening, a device that I had not actively played with since the early 80s.

An Atari 2600.

Okay, I should mention something before I get too far ahead of myself. Chris and I hold “game nights” on a pseudo-regular basis. We own a Dreamcast. No, not the most recent gaming system, but one that was relatively inexpensive, and has a lot of really good games available. (Not to mention that we found a good place to get games … uh … cheap, so our initial library was pretty decent.) We invite a group of people we know to be gamers, and we go nuts for upwards of six hours, beating each other into virtual pulps. Our neighbours must wonder what the hell goes on in our apartment. It’s a good thing we’ve got nice, thick, concrete walls.

Anyway, back to the Atari. I hadn’t played one of these since I was a kid. But the old graphics, the sounds, and the action came back fast. The four of us got into the games very quickly. It was a lot of fun. I had originally been apprehensive that Kathryn would spend a third boring night in, made worse by watching a bunch of guys scream and yell over video games. For the record, Kathryn was utterly enthralled with the Atari — she remembered it well.

Several people had arrived by the time Kathryn and I left. We were going to the Calgary Tower, Kathryn’s first real touristy activity. She wanted to see a sunset over the mountains, and this is about as good a place to see it as any. Not to mention, it’s a nice view of the entire city.

The last time I’d been up Calgary Tower was in August of 1997, when Gerry and I blindly wandered around downtown Calgary trying to figure out what there was to see. I can still remember not knowing what we were looking at or where we were going. Today it all seems to simple…

For those of you who have never experienced it, a sunset from Calgary Tower, especially on a clear day, it really quite something to behold. It attracts a bit of a crowd, too, for obvious reasons. We circled the tower a few times (which doesn’t take long — it’s not that big), and I pointed out some of the more significant landmarks. Kathryn sighed in excitement — she wanted to go to the mountains badly. That was a promise for Monday.

Looking northeast from the Calgary Tower, 17 February 2001

About 10 minutes after sunset, we returned to street level, and headed back to the apartment. More people had arrived, and the Atari had been replaced with the Dreamcast — and tennis. Yeah, tennis. Not the most riveting of games … or so you’d think. In reality, this was probably one of the most popular games to hit it big in our game nights in quite a while. People were yelling and screaming, the trash talk flew, and as people got more practice, the games got more intense. Kathryn got complete into the insanity, and even started hamming it up with Dave (another co-worker), giving names to all the characters on screen. Even Stuart showed up for his first game night, and was immediately sucked into the mayhem.

Game night, Chez Chris and Geoff, Calgary, 17 February 2001

Things only got worse with Samba De Amigo. This is one of those really bizarre Japanese games that periodically make to North America. It’s a musical game — the graphics are almost irrelevant — that you play with … ready for this? … maracas.

No, I’m not making this up.

You plug in a pair of maracas. There are sensors that figure out where they’re being held, and there are accelerometers in the balls to detect when (and how hard) you shake them. This is basically the only game they’re used for, and to put it mildly, the game is just plain nuts. It was quite popular … after the initial shock wore off, anyway.

Sunday morning was Dim Sum morning. This is a near-ritual for some of us, making our way down to Chinatown and bulking up on bite-size morsels of Oriental goodness. We met up with Stuart, Therese, and Janine, and couldn’t wait to get to a table and start the feast.

After Dim Sum, Janine took off with friends, leaving the five of us to our post-Dim Sum ritual … shopping. Normally we go to the mall downtown, but periodically, we venture down to Chinook Centre, the best mall in town. We toured in and out of a few stores, looking at interesting things, but not really biting at the offered wares. The only real purchases came at Black’s Camera, where Therese and Kathryn took the opportunity to stock up on film.

We headed back downtown, in search of activities to keep us occupied for the remainder of the afternoon. Kathryn suggested we stop in at the Glenbow Museum, and see what there was to see. That was when we found out about the Glenbow’s peculiar sales habits — they sell only a limited number of tickets for the day. When we got there, they were sold out. As you can imagine, that had us quite confused — it’s a museum, not a concert! But the Glenbow limits the tickets so all their visitors will receive an enjoyable experience, rather than packing the place full.

We ended up retreating to our apartment, to strike up a brief game of tennis. Therese and Stuart stuck around that evening, and the five of us spent a lazy Sunday night having dinner, talking, and watching the Sunday night line-up.

Monday was Family Day in Alberta, an odd statutory holiday cooked up (assumedly) for the auspices of getting more skiing in during the winter. In any case, Chris and I both had the day off (Stuart’s company defers the day to later in the year, and Therese just needed to get work done without anyone bugging her) and so took Kathryn into the Canadian Rockies.

The morning was grey … well, actually white. It wasn’t snowing, but the sky looked like someone had accidentally bleached the blue out. I was a bit apprehensive about going — I really wanted Kathryn to experience Banff on a nice day — but she insisted that it was worth the risk. I guess after stalling for four days, she was ready to go, no matter what the weather was like.

After a quick run to my Aunt and Uncle’s to borrow their park pass, we headed towards the mountains. Normally, you can see the mountains as soon as you clear Calgary city limits (which happen to be at the top of a hill which blocks the view of the mountains), but the weather was so bleak that we couldn’t see anything until we were within 20 kilometres.

Luckily for us, the weather started clear within a few minutes of arriving in Banff, just as the Weather Channel had predicted. By the time we climbed out of the car, blue sky was clearly visible. An hour later, we had to wear sunglasses as not to be blinded.

Our first stop was at the Cave and Basin (yeah, I know it’s becoming a habit). Unlike previous tours, we didn’t actually go into the cave, but walked around on the outside. Then it was over to the new(er) hot springs on the east side of Sulphur Mountain. Kathryn was utter giddy with delight from all the vistas that she could see. Then it was down to the Bow Falls below the Banff Springs Hotel, and then to the hotel itself.

The hotel’s changed since I was last there with Cathy and Craig. Back then, you entered the hotel through the “rear” of the hotel. At the time, the hotel was adding a new entrance on the “front”. That construction is now complete, and you can no longer enter the old way. The new entrance is much more impressive, though.

In what looks like an effort to spruce up the appearance of the hotel, CP Hotels is changing the ethos of the old place, and making it into a castle. The new entrance is a Great Hall, complete with grey stone work, long corridors with austere appearances, and new staircases and wall faces that resemble something out of a dark ages keep. Unfortunately, it also meant that all the restaurants were closed for the renovation … lunch was out that day.

Chris and Kathryn at Upper Hot Springs, Banff, Alberta, 18 February 2001

We stopped again just on the north side of the Banff Street bridge, so Kathryn could get a good picture looking through the downtown, towards Cascade Mountain (which she absolutely fell in love with). This was our base for wandering around town for the next hour or so. We wandered up Banff Street to the Visitor’s Information Centre (which I had last visited some three and a half years ago with Gerry), then across the street for a quick drink at a nearby Second Cup, then by the fudge shop, and finally back to the car.

Then it was off to Lake Louise. It had been an off-the-cuff suggestion, and everyone seemed game. We got there about 30 minutes before sunset (sunset at Lake Louise, that is — the sun wouldn’t set for another hour or so), so had ample light to look around.

This was the first time I’d seen the lake totally frozen. I had been there in late May once, and the lake had still been ice-covered, but this was so well frozen that people could hike all over its surface. Which is precisely what we ended up doing…

It’s quite an experience to hike to the middle of Lake Louise. You’re about a kilometre from anything. Mountains on three sides, and a itty-bitty little hotel on the fourth. (In the middle of the lake, the hotel is quite small.) Aside from a few other people, you’re alone. It’s quiet — no cars, no planes, nothing there to take away from the beauty of the land. The soft, white snow extends smoothly until it reaches the mountains, then gives way to an upthrust of white, beige, brown, red, and black. The sun casts stark shadows in the jagged rock, and it seems so odd because there’s absolutely no noise.

Chris has recently started a search for his spirituality. It’s given the two of us many an occasion for deeply philosophical conversations. Kathryn had played devil’s advocate with Chris a couple nights earlier, not questioning why Chris was searching, but wanting to know his reasons. (The only real way to see someone’s thought processes is to ask them hard questions.) Kathryn had posed Chris a question: “What does God give you?” Chris has answered it adequately at the time. As the three of us stood in the middle of the lake, staring at sights that few people in the world could even imagine, he quietly said: “This is what God gives me.” There was no rebuttal.

We walked about 9/10ths the length of the lake before turning back. The walk up wasn’t an easy one — the uneven path was hard-packed snow, barely a foot and a half wide by the time we turned around. We were regularly slipping off into the powdery surrounding snow. Chris trudged through the powder uneventfully, his boots and long underwear protecting him from the cold. The walk back was considerably easier, as the west side of the lake had a fairly wide area of packed snow.

After a quick stop in the hotel to use the facilities, we hit the road for our trip back to Calgary. The sun set as we drove, and by the time we reached the city limits, it was dark. A little too dark. It looked like my headlights weren’t working. A quick stop at a gas station revealed that while light was being emitted by my headlights, all the dirt and salt from our day’s excursion had made the glass almost completely opaque. A quick wipe with a wet squeegee fixed that.

The following day was cool and bright — the perfect day for spending a few hours buried in a museum. This time, Kathryn and I got tickets, and spent the day in glorious education at the Glenbow Museum. Kathryn, like myself, is a reader. Whereas Cathy and Craig might be able to blitz through the Royal Tyrell Museum in 30 minutes, Kathryn and I spent three and a half hours reading nearly every word on Asian art and sculpture (mostly revolving around Hindu and Buddhist artefacts) and on the Egyptian culture (courtesy of a travelling exhibit). We only managed to get through one floor before we had to stop. Our brains hurt from the information overload.

On our way home, we stopped into a Second Cup for refreshments, and what ended up being a nice long conversation. It started out with me apologizing for being such a dullard. You’re probably wondering why I did that? Well, it’s not easy to explain. Chris and Kathryn have a much more animated conversational style, certainly one that looks more interesting and exciting than the one she has with me. With Chris, they laugh, exchange mock insults, and carry on in a more exuberant manner. With me, things are more … well, dull. I felt bad about that. I honestly felt like Kathryn was bored out of her mind being around me so much, because I’m such a dull person. (And yes, I have to admit that I’m dull. And if you disagree with me, I’ll point you to my dating history.)

Kathryn was quick to object. (She is a good friend, after all.) She brought up an interesting point that I hadn’t really considered before. (Which is ironic, considering her point was something I’d noted many times since high school.) Kathryn is artistic — she sings, she acts, she works in theatre. Chris is artistic — he sings, he creates imagery, he’s an excellent photographer. I’m not artistic — I can’t sing to save my life, can’t even draw a good-looking stick person, can’t act my way out of a paper bag. That’s why I’m a geek. I’ve always been a geek — even when I was a little kid, I was a geek. I wanted to know how everything worked (which is why I went through a few portable cassette players before I figured that taking another apart didn’t serve any purpose).

Kathryn called me “philosophical”. I’m not sure if that’s a general thing, or if that’s just because of the conversations I’d been having with her to that point (she’d asked me if I were a different person, and I’d ended up waxing poetic for about a half hour on my personal development over the past year). I suppose in a way I am philosophical … but I gotta tell ask, what woman would find that interesting? Again, I point you to my dating history…

That evening, Kathryn and I make use of cheap Tuesday, and caught a showing of “O Brother, Where Are Thou?”, the Coen Brothers’ latest cinematic outing. We thoroughly enjoyed the movie — it’s a great mythic romp through 1930’s southern United States. We didn’t find it nearly as funny as a guy a row or two back from us. Everyone’s seen or heard of the stereotypically loud-mouthed moron who finds something as trivial as a guy sneezing the funniest thing ever put on film. Well, that night we met one. I’m reasonably certain we weren’t the only ones in the theatre who wanted to gag and bind him for the duration of the movie. I feel sorry for the friends who go with him … assuming he has any.

Wednesday was another educational trek through Alberta, this time to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, about two hours south of Calgary. This is a location where, until 120 years (but starting over 5,500 years ago), Native tribes would drive herds of buffalo off a cliff. Head-Smashed-In is one of the best preserved, and due to the outstanding Interpretation Centre built nearby, has earned a place as a UNESCO site.

It was Kathryn’s first visit to the Prairies. The drive down afforded her a constantly changing contrast of rolling hills, flat plains, and distant mountain vistas. (Not to mention a few oil well pumps.) Kathryn was so happy to be engaging in touristy activities that I sometimes wondered if I really needed to be there. (I’ve seen most of this stuff before, so I was only there as a pseudo tour guide.)

We arrived at the Buffalo Jump just before noon. The first stop in the tour is along the ridge where buffalo used to plunge to their deaths. (Buffalo have very poor eyesight, and the Native tribes were able to exploit this deficiency under the right conditions.) It’s to introduce you to the site before you learn about it. Up there, you can’t hear a thing. It’s dead silent. Oppressively silent. It’s almost deafening. For city folk, it can be a bit unnerving. I find it hugely relaxing. We had a few moments of silence before we were bombarded by a small group of Native kids, who were assumedly on an excursion to learn about their heritage.

We spent about three and a half hours at Head-Smashed-In, learning (and in my case, relearning) the history of the site, and the way of the peoples who use the site. I was glad I’d come — my knowledge had managed to distort a little since my last visit.

We left for home around 3:30 in the afternoon. We made a brief stop in Fort MacLeod, about 5 minutes further south on Highway 2 so Kathryn could get a bite to eat. I was beginning to come down with a cold, and my appetite had vanished. But soon we were on our way back home.

That night, Chris, Kathryn, and I went to Stuart and Therese’s apartment for dinner. It was like old times — really old times. We’ve all known each other for 10 years. We’d all gotten together at Christmas, but this was a little different. We were in a homey environment, without having to yell above the teeming masses. It was one of those times when you know that no matter what may come, we’ll still be friends when we’re all retired and living on some sandy shore in a non-extradition country with a low tax rate.

Old Friends, Calgary, Alberta, 22 February 2001

My vacation ended Thursday morning, and it was time for me to go back to work. Kathryn left for Edmonton later that morning to visit with friends. This was a good thing — my suspected cold was turning into a nasty cold. I drugged myself up heavily and trudged into work to see what I could get done … and wade through the 100+ email I’d managed to accumulate in that time.

The only productive thing I got done that day was finally launch Critical Mass’s new website (http://www.criticalmass.com/). This is what has been sucking up huge amounts of my time since early December. If it hadn’t been the wait to get client approval on some stuff, we’d have had it up a long time ago. But our website isn’t high on our clients’ priorities.

I like this site, and not just because I was the lead developer. I like it because we let the Design department try some interesting ideas that we’d never tried before. The result is a lot of DHTML animation that had me staring at the ceiling for a few collective days, trying to figure out ways of getting it to work. (Sounds kinda dumb, I know, but when you have to deal with several different browsers across two platforms, it’s more work than you think.)

The launch complete, I bailed for home as my cold decided to take me down. I called in sick on Friday, the cold having taken me down completely. (I could have gone in, but I figured I’d get just as much work done at the office as I would sleeping at home.)

Kathryn and her housemate Mareca (I hope that’s the correct spelling) returned to Calgary Saturday afternoon. Kathryn and Mareca have been friends for quite a while, so I understand, and are both in the theatre biz. Mareca’s a little older than Kathryn (having just turned 30 — though she’s far too cute to be 30, in my humble opinion), but has the energy of someone 10 years younger.

Kathryn, Mareca, Mareca’s friend Karen, and I were going to a play that night. Mareca had a friend in the production who got us half-price tickets, and it seemed like fun. Besides, I’d never seen Camelot before. The show was quite good, though being a theatre novice (I’ve only seen a few productions), I was happier with the performance than the other three. They pulled it apart. But not half as bad as Bryce, who played Mordred.

Bryce is an old friend of Mareca, and is an accomplished actor. He’s also got a great singing voice (I still have “Fie On Goodness” reverberating around in my head) and a great sense of humour. I got to know him a little, as he came back with us to the apartment, where I exchanged my place in the group with Chris so they could go out to a “party” to dance the night away. While the idea was appealing, my cold was winding down, and spending several hours in a smoky environment was a good way to drag that cold out for days.

We took Kathryn and Mareca out for Dim Sum on their last day in Calgary. Bryce and Karen also attended, as did Stuart and Therese. (Stuart and Therese ended up leaving early, due to Stuart’s ankle, which he sprained earlier in the day.) After our Oriental repast, we gathered Kathryn and Mareca’s bags and took them to the airport.

Which was strangely packed. Air Canada’s history of long line-ups (they said they were busy, which was true, but only because half their desks were closed) came back again. Luckily, instead of the hour wait, Kathryn and Mareca were able to use the Express check-in, and were ready in about 20 minutes. For a delayed flight. The five of us grabbed a table in Tim Horton’s (a truly Canadian tradition) and wasted time. (Of course, you never really waste time with friends.)

When the time came for them to board, we walked them over to the gate and bid them a safe journey. It was strange — I wasn’t really sad to see them go. Probably because I knew I’d see them (or at least Kathryn) again. But when they did finally leave, I could help but notice how empty things suddenly seemed.

We dropped Bryce off at Theatre Calgary so he could get his bike, and then Chris and I returned home. Things didn’t look any different, but still something seemed missing. Kathryn had been here for over a week — it was the longest I’d seen her since … well, since ever, really.

So on Sunday night, I finally crawled back into my own bed to get a good night’s sleep. But I couldn’t. I tossed and turned, feeling a little empty. It could have been that a close friend was gone, and I didn’t know when I would see her again. It could have been the foreign feeling of being back in my own room. It could have been that I hadn’t slept in my bed for 10 days.

I should have slept on the couch.