We’ve driven 3838 miles.
In the morning there’s no one there to accept our fee and no place to place the money. So, I accept the gift of another free night in a campground. Maps says it’s about 2 hours to Winnipeg. We start driving about 8, so I’m guessing we’ll get there about 10.
But, we pass a really nice city park in Starbuck and stop for breakfast. I make some oatmeal and feed Sherman. We’ll now arrive around 11.
I stop for gas and ask the woman who pumps it about the co-ops. She says they are locally owned and managed. And they’re independent parts of a national organization. Each one can make the decisions that best serve its members, who are local. Sounds like democratic socialism to me…
This is the only photo I took today. Odd…
We continue to Winnipeg. The mind is hard at work with curiosity, excitement, anxiety… I found out in a short logistics conversation with Beth that she had remarried. Now there’s another variable in this mixup-meetup… I’m intending that there is be no weird male territorial antics, but I don’t know anything about this guy. I’m headed toward the house. She’ll be a the farmer’s market with a neighbor when I arrive. So… BAM. The male stage will be set.
Sidebar: I was thinking about Beth 10 years ago. Wondering how she was? Who’d she become? I knew she was in Canada, but not where. I looked online and found her on Classmates.com. We connected and in the intervening years spoke on the phone a few times, emailed and Facebook messaged. We’d talked and resolved a few incompletions from our time together. And we had keep each other apprised of many key events in our lives. But, we didn’t know each other in any detail or depth. It was all extrapolation from ages 16-20.
Sherman and I arrive about 11. I leave him in the van while I go to meet the new husband. I ring the bell. He comes to the door. We shake hands, introduce ourselves and the space feels clean. We begin talking and there is no defending, no posturing. Nice. An inner soft smile. She’s found herself a relaxed, secure male parter — Dan.
I get Sherman from the van and bring him in keeping him on his leash. Sherman meets the cats. Two very large Maine Coon cats. Sherman is 15 pounds. The cats are over 20 pounds.
Beth comes home about 15 minutes later. Comes in the room and there’s an energetic pause while we look into each other. Feel into each other. I don’t know what to say. What to do. I move toward her and give her a hug. It’s not overly warm, but friendly. OK… That was pushing up against a boundary… Take a deep breath. Stay embodied…
We all start to talk. There’s an easiness forming as we create an inclusive space. Dan apologizes that he has to work that day. He’s a wordsmith. In casual and serious conversation as well as work. He makes a living doing what he loves and is good at. As do I. He’s at work on an internal marketing presentation for a large Canadian energy company that wants to begin a new campaign. This is the pitch to create and sell it to the internal stake holders. The engineers.
Beth is making lunch with some chicken left from a football party the night before. She keeps being distracted by our conversations. As am I. We eat on the deck in their lovely backyard. Dan goes to work in his basement office. Beth and I go for a walk with Sherman along the Red River.
As we begin to walk, Sherman is assaulted by the sight and smell of squirrels. He has never seen so many squirrels. He wants to chase every one, of course. And, he’s on a leash. So, we begin squirrel leash training. Back to the when he pulls, I stop. He doesn’t get it at first. But over the next few days, he gets better. Sometimes he can’t help himself — and I can’t help myself — he pulls and I follow. But more of the time he learns to be excited, pull just a little and wiggle and watch. If we stop long enough, he sits down and is just 100% engaged in squirrel. If he’s off the leash he can chase as he likes.
Winnipeg is a city that grew up at the junction of 2 large rivers during the trapping and fur trade days. It’s easy to see why. The city is surrounded by prairie, which is full of rivers and lakes. This is the Red River. One of the few rivers on the planet (maybe the N. Hemisphere.) that flow North. The Red River joins the Assiniboine River at The Forks. The city has left a nice green space along the river with parks, trails and 100 feet or more of natural forest right on the river to help hold the river banks in place. Nothing like the gazillion miles of tree, shrub, flower, mushroom and fungi roots to knit a soil together.
As we’re walking and talking I say that it feels like I haven’t seen her in maybe six months. But what’s weird is that she looks much older. That the connection feels so natural and easy. Just as it always did. She says yes. The same. We are traveling in a natural conversation that weaves the fabric of our lives via past and present people, places and things. Joys. Sorrows. Siblings. Children. Grand-children. Friends. Former and current spouses. Houses. Travels. Dreams lost and found. Jobs. Parents. Aging.
One of the reasons I wanted to reconnect was to see who that young woman I was madly in love with had become. As we walked and talked I could feel and see that the young woman I remember was still here. She was now more mature. More intelligently integrated. More secure. The evolutions I had hoped for had been made manifest. It was a warm feeling.
We walked about 6.5 miles. Returned to their home. Had dinner. I got to connect with Dan some more. Was liking him more, and liking them together. More inner smiles.
We went to a neighbor’s and sat around a fire talking for awhile. Then time for sleep. It was a wonderful day.
We’ve driven 3838 miles.