“I’m thinking about signing up for a tournament in Vancouver,” Santana said.
“You should. I’ll even drive you.”
“Really? You’d do that? Can I bring friends?”
“Sure, why not?”
Almost immediately after having this conversation, I began to have regrets. It was impulsive. The reason I offered in the first place was partly because there was a poetry contest I wanted to enter that required a location-based poem of a location within the Vancouver city limits. I had a place in mind, and I thought if I were to visit that place, I’d be inspired to write something spectacular.
But here’s the thing. Despite driving professionally for more years than I care to count, I don’t really like to drive the Coquihalla, as beautiful as it is, and I’m uncomfortable driving in cities I’m unfamiliar with. Then I realized the deadline for the contest was a week before the tournament. So much for that plan.
It was too late to back out. The boys had paid their fees and booked a hotel. I looked at the reviews for the hotel. They weren’t great.
My biggest concern, of which there were many, is that the elevator tended to be out of order. Was I going to drive all the way to Vancouver to be stuck in a hotel room all weekend? I would not be able to handle three flights of stairs, of that I was certain.
Even if that were the case, the boys would be out all day. I’d be alone. With nothing to do. Except write! I had at least a dozen potential deadlines coming up. This would be my own, personal, writer’s retreat. Hopefully, I would have a view of English Bay and not the back alley, but either way, I’d make it work. Once I made up my mind to look at it from a different angle, I began to get excited.
We arrived at our hotel without incident; the cherry blossoms an eruption of colour against a brilliant blue sky. To my delight, the elevator was in perfect working order, and the beach was only a block away.
I’m not going to take you on a play-by-play of the entire weekend. Suffice to say I spent my mornings on the beach, looking out at the ships waiting to dock. My afternoons were spent meeting friends, taking naps, and exploring Stanley Park. I did more walking in three days than I have in the last month. Exhausting, but so worth it.
Our final morning in Vancouver found me beneath an ornamental cherry tree on the patio of Starbucks, cradling a latte and enjoying the fresh ocean breeze on my face.
I’d come because our suite was a little too warm for my liking (the only complaint I had about the hotel, by the way) and I wanted to spend some time writing in my journal. It was, I admit, the only writing I did all weekend, except for one little cherry blossom haiku.
But that’s okay. It was in that moment I realized that I was not just content, but actually happy. Happy because I like my life. It wasn’t about being in a city as vibrant as Vancouver, although that was part of it. It was the freedom of choice, of being able to take a weekend to go somewhere new. It was as though the little girl who lived inside of me was finally allowed to come out and play.
e.e. cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up to be who you are.”
I think I finally made it.