Waking Up In Canada

Time Out Just To See

The firmness of friendship March 29, 2012

Filed under: Friendship — wakingupincanada @ 6:00 pm
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When I was 16, our English teacher, a cheery, wise and happy man with a smock of white hair and thick black eyebrows commented that for our final exams, our poems would largely be based on transience, a mis-balance he believed, as in life, poems were mostly about love. I have become to wonder if he was wrong.

Banff is a transient town, and the lives of people like me are built upon hellos and goodbyes. Much revolves around the workplace here. In Banff, living space is everything, and many employers provide subsidised accommodation to their staff. The people I work with, I live with, ski with, eat with and socialise with.

Every week, people walk into our store, resumes in hand, and we don’t know if this is our new best friend standing in front of us. In our team, we have a plethora of characters  – the high energy people, the super-organised individuals, the laid-back crew, the super sellers and the super helpers. This mesh of personalities is like a microscopic view on the world and all that it takes to make it go around every day.

And just when you fall in love with it all, it is time for another goodbye. This week, we have a double dose of departure, with 2 beautiful people heading home. Unlike before in my life, when treasured companions move on to a better job or better home but stay in the area or at least the friendship circle, the international melting pot that is Banff sees possible Best Friends Forever fly off to the far reaches of the world, to a different career, a different lifestyle.

Somehow here, you connect with the transience that is life, the constant ebb and flow that is people. With every changing staff member or housemate, there is a change in the balance, the routine, the atmosphere. Sometimes it is a little shift barely noticeable, other times, for better or worse, a sudden movement occurs forcing ripples out in all directions. Sometimes the only thing is to stand firm in yourself and allow others the same courtesy. Other times, it seems to me, it is about learning from them, trusting them and enjoying them for as long as you have them.

It has been 7 months and many friends now. As 2 of my BFFs move on, I see all that they have given me: 6 mile runs through the mountains and gym workouts; pyramid hill sprints and scrabble in Tim Hortons, indulgent breakfasts and cheap cinema nights, wine and crackers and double dates. Only a true friend allows you to swear at them at the beginning of a 3 minute hill sprint or shares the joy in playing scrabble over good coffee at Tim Hortons, and offers to share the car she will win in Roll Up the Rim. A BFF gets lost with you and enjoys the views regardless.

It strikes me at these times, not how tough it is to say goodbye, but just how brilliant a good friend is. As we move through life and all its phases, a good friend grounds you, wherever your roots may be.




An unexpected surprise December 30, 2011

My gifts finally arrived in Ireland, with a little less fanfare than my grand plan for them to be sneaked under the tree for Christmas morning. I could gripe about the post, but I am overjoyed they actually arrived. I know I got plenty to be happy with from them, and this was but a small token.

In return, I made my way to the Post Office, knowing that 3 cards were on their way to me. Instead I collected a package and multiple cards. The cards were special cards, not the box set I had sent out at the end of November. I had a beautiful red one from a special little Redhead and her Mummy, one for a Special Cousin from a very special friend, and one from a very special friend Across The Miles. There is a  beautiful green handmade crepe card, and another one from my Mum, Dad and Sister. I list them to remind myself; I was that overwhelmed by each one and the thought that went into them.

And the package: a surprise as I ripped it open and could not believe who it was from: some people you work with are colleagues; others become fast friends forever. Tayto crisps, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Tea Bags though I am unsure if they are Lyons’ or Barry’s, a copy of Ireland’s Own with our wonderful Donegal star Daniel O’ Donnell on the cover, santa earrings and a skiing reindeer and as much love as I could ever need. Given it was these individuals who landed me 1000s of miles from home in the first place with their advice, sometimes gentle and whispered, sometimes loud and glaring, I guess it was the least they could do to send me some home comforts. I can see them in their office, making the list, packing it up, laughing and conspiring. Even their card was special, a simple rural scene, but on the back I see it is produced to raise money for Buncrana Concerned About Suicide Community Group and I love them for supporting local, supporting those we have all cared for, who work to make the world better by working in the community with those who need it most. The most touching part  of the package was a Christmas poem by Patrick Kavanagh. I still remember studying that poem for my Leaving Certificate, and even in the summer, feeling Christmas in its verses. Each item was a massive gift in itself.

Opening all these envelopes, I felt like a kid at, well, Christmas. I have thankyou notes to write now, a special thought as those cards deserve a few extra words for the New Year ahead.



Hellos and goodbyes November 29, 2011

Filed under: Friendship — wakingupincanada @ 6:54 pm
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A text arrived on my phone today; a beautiful little girl has been born to one of bestest ever friends. My heart soared and I imagine my darling lady will be as calm and relaxed as she always is, even now that there are 2 big brothers running around the house while she sits still with her beautiful little bundle of pink. This friend walked into my life uninvited but dearly needed, with advice, laughter and a kitchen table that offered refuge. From the beginning, she was a force to be reckoned with and a fantastic friend, the type that doesn’t wait for you to call her because she called you last time, the kind that knows when just to listen, the one where you could go to hide for as long as you need.

A few hours later, I said goodbye to another Best Friend, as she heads on a long adventure home. I have known her for 3 months minus 2 days and I want to be her friend forever. This is the person who can teach you to be a better person simply be helping you believe that you already are. She is the one us newbies turned to for advice and help and reassurance and how we all go on without her smile, grace and support is beyond me.

As adults, we find it hard to make new friends. It is the kind of thing that cannot be forced and unless you are in new situations where you meet new people and gradually build up a friendship, can be almost impossible. When I arrived in Banff, a friend from home texted me “To make friends”. I told him how scary that was, and promised I would never say that to my child. It put the fear of God into me. To be fair to this friend, they texted day and night when I arrived, making sure I was ok, keeping me company, keeping me going. An episode of the Big Bang Theory is based entirely on how to make friends. Yet, I am lucky to have people who seem to arrive just when I need them. When I look at all those beautiful friends I have, here or at home, I wonder what I ever did to deserve their friendship. I have the ones who sum up the “If you ever land up in jail, don’t ring me. I’ll be sitting there right next to you”, as well as the ones I would be ringing to get us out, the ones who’d provide the alibi and the ones who would bury the body.

Some friends are here for a good time, others for a long time, and others who marry both. In 50 years time, my friend is going to come visit me in Ireland, and we will go for high tea and then later to a pub and club, because we realised neither of us dance really well, and that we could still pull off our moves when we are 80. I hope so. I’d like to have a friend at 80 who knew me when I was “young” and still wants to go clubbing.

I’d like it that they still wanted to hang out with me.



Roots October 14, 2011

Filed under: Friendship — wakingupincanada @ 7:33 am
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I'm holding on

Walking along the Fenland Trail, I noticed that a lot of tree roots intermingled. None, however, were as forceful as this couple. Along the river bank, many of the trees were leaning diagonally out of the soil, bent over the Bow River. Some had fallen in.

This couple stood out. They rose magnificently together. I saw in them love, friendship and support.

Sometimes people think I’m courageous and brave travelling alone in a different country. They don’t see the roots wrapped around me, from thousands of miles away. These roots fed me with love, care and advice, particularly when I first arrived and I was not yet grounded in Canadian soil. They gave me support and showed me I was not alone, wherever I stood. They listened to my fears and grumbles, draining my worries from me and replacing it with hope and positivity. They stayed up late to keep me company.

When I first happened upon these trees, the stronger tree stood out. Then I saw the root of the thinner tree clasping over and under its stronger mate. It is the thinner tree that provides the support. It helps the stronger tree to flourish, to counterbalance it to grow straight rather than stoop over.

I am travelling by myself but I am not alone.