I just came back from a short summer road-trip. I drove from my home to Kamloops to visit my BFF, Michelle. It's a trip I've made quite a few times.
When I was eleven my family moved from West Vancouver, where we had only lived for one year, to Kamloops. My Dad got transferred with his work so even though we were not thrilled about it, we packed everything up, again, and made the drive to Kamloops.
At first, we didn't have anywhere to move in to. I guess our possession date for the house we were buying was still a couple weeks away, so we spent a couple of weeks in our trailer in a campsite just on the outskirts of town. There were six of us and a cat packed into a rather small trailer without bathroom facilities. I can remember my Dad putting a bucket on the floor for us to pee in at night if we couldn't wait. It was definitely not ideal, so we were grateful when our house officially became ours and we could finally move in.
Kamloops is hot and dry and I remember it being very hot the day we moved in. After the truck had been unloaded a girl around my age came over to my front yard to talk to me. She asked me if I was a boy or a girl. Yup, that's right. Evidently my "pixie" style haircut wasn't displaying my femininity quite enough. However, being eleven, and completely uninterested in my appearance, I wasn't too bothered by her question, I just told her I was a girl and we introduced ourselves. In spite of our awkward beginning we have been friends ever since.
That was 40 years ago. That blows my mind. How can it possibly have been 40 years! I probably should say I've been blessed to have a friend for 40 years. It turns out Michelle or Mitch, as she's always liked to be called, lived right next door to me with her younger brother and sister. She was a year younger than me and definitely more mature. She was fun and pretty and she had an in-ground pool, which a friend should have if at all possible.
Anyways, we lived in Kamloops for 3 years, while I was in grade 6, 7 and 8, before moving to Coquitlam. After we left, whenever possible, I took a trip back to Kamloops. At first, since I was too young to drive I took the Greyhound bus. I was even on a Greyhound bus coming back from Kamloops on May 18, 1980 when Mount St. Helen's erupted! But when buses made me too carsick I took the train or a plane (the drive to the airport took longer than the flight), once I even got a ride in a semi truck, but eventually I got my license and I could drive myself.
I was probably 18 the first time I made the drive. At that time the Coquihalla Highway didn't exist and the only route you could take was the Fraser Canyon. It was a beautiful drive through the mountains, but so slow with it's windy roads and lots of sections with only one lane. I used to finish work on a Friday and jump in my car and hit the road, trying to get there asap, and hoping I wouldn't get stuck behind some guy towing a trailer. I would only have the weekend there and then I'd be going back.
This time was different. Even though I was only going for a couple of days I wasn't in a rush. Not that I wasn't excited to see Mitch because I was. I just really wanted to enjoy the drive. I wanted to stop and take pictures and appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. So that's what I did. My three and a half hour drive took more like four and a half hours but it was great.
I think that's a really positive thing about being my age. I know what I like. Even though sometimes we have to do things because they are an obligation, I find I do less of that now. More often if I am doing something it's because I want to, not because it's expected or someone else wants me to. It's a great feeling.
Mitch and I had a great visit and we are already looking forward to the next time we can get together. We both have our own families now, and we've been through some very hard times. We are not the same people we were 40 years ago, but our friendship has held true. And for that I am very thankful.