Memoirs of a Downward Facing Dog

When I’d packed the van back in October, I did it strategically:  assuming along the way, there would be camping opportunities and I’d be sleeping in it from time to time.  I piled up the blankets and the pillows, washed and re-hung the curtains, and lined up the boxes in the back so that only minimal reorganizing was needed when I wanted to convert the back to sleeping quarters.

Now, I’m not entirely sure which country I thought I was travelling through when I’d had that notion….perhaps Ethiopia, Botswana, or Qatar, but somehow my reasoning had failed to include the fact that this is Canada.  In November.

If you know me at all, you’ll have learned that I am a big fan of bucket lists.   Not the kind of things that you want to do before you kick the can…. although, I have a couple of those too.  But the things that you want to experience in places you suspect you won’t be back to for a while.  Things you need to do when you have the chance, because chances are transient and fleeting, just like the wind.

I had made a bucket list before I left Prince Edward Island, which mostly included a plethora of beaches and food to visit and eat my way through.  I made a bucket list for Montreal; of all those touristy things you take advantage of when you live in a city, and upon knowledge of your departure, decide you really should see before you leave.  Truth be told, I wasn’t so successful checking things off that list, but Montreal and I both know…I’ll be back soon enough.

Needless to say, there were a number of things I’d wanted to check off of my cross-country trip bucket list.  Namely, “making it across alive.”  I knew I wanted to drive through Canada, and I wanted to sleep in that van.

I have to say that when I’d planned this trip, I think that I romanticized the adventure a fair bit.  I had visions of passengers; friends eager to accompany me and eager for adventure.  Group sing-a-longs and passenger-seat DJ’s flipping tunes as the van happily puttered through scenic, foreign landscapes.  I imagined plopping my yoga mat down on mountaintops, serene moments of contemplation and introspection; handstands using the side of my van as a prop.

None of that really happened.  And I certainly hadn’t counted on doing the entire drive solo.

After the death-drive from Edmonton to Calgary, I still had to cross the Rocky Mountains; a trip that had my anxious heart racing so much, at the time, smoking cigarettes seemed a reasonable course of action.  6 hours and 1.5 un-enjoyed cigarettes later and I had made it….into the temperate, mild weather of Chilliwack, B.C.

So it was a blessing-in-disguise when my gracious hosts mentioned that her husband had a dog allergy, and though I could take the guest room, the dog had to sleep in the garage.  Feeling sorry for my old girl and constant travel companion, I thought….what better time than to put a big, fat check-mark next to a few REM cycles in my trusty and reliable cross-Canada chariot?

I rearranged the boxes, fluffed up the blankets, drew the curtains and snuggled in for the night.  Jerzy curled up against my side, and I drifted off to sleep full of gratitude.  The engine compartment was right underneath where my head and heart were lying and I felt connected to its machinery; thankful that this old, rusty She-Wolf had made it cross-country without a hitch.  With my paintings strapped to the ceiling, I was soothed by their presence, listening to the rain fall outside; grateful it was warm enough to not snow.

But that’s the funny thing about bucket lists and expectations:  sometimes they let you down, and sometimes they remind you that everything is right where it should be.

That is, of course, until my friends’ husband broke the van the next day.

Unexpected?  Check.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mary Lynn
    Nov 17, 2013 @ 16:07:04

    You are home safe and I am grateful! Patiently waiting on your next chapter! Xoxoxo


  2. Amber
    Nov 18, 2013 @ 19:44:22

    I sure love you!


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