adventure #26 – the journey home

checking in at the airport
unfortunate lettering
me and my mother
the artworks
joe and coffee shop friends
aly's wedding
me and aly - the blushing bride
a church fit for robocop
the arlington
what next
the journey home (to edmonton) started friday night after work in a freshly pressed black suit and light-blue shirt and DKNY tie that would serve as the wardrobe for a whirlwind two-night adventure (no luggage, just a light carry-on) in my home town to celebrate the marriage of my friend aly to her fiancé, adam. edmonton was almost exactly as i left it, except maybe a little larger and more expensive. one of the most humiliating indicators of edmonton’s lack of international sense is the misspelled french welcome at the arrivals area. every time i see it, i cringe with secret shame.

my mother was well – my father was in germany for the weekend to celebrate the birthday of his sister/my aunt. it was my first trip back in over a year. the last time i went home, i was emotionally distraught and miserable, so it was much much better to enjoy my brief time in town, rather than being obsessed with something else. as i said, edmonton was very much the way i remembered it, especially since i imagined that it would have changed so very much over the past year with the ongoing oil boom. my favourite flower/art shop was still there, and my friend joe was still there, hanging around the downtown coffee shops, as we had for seemingly forever. i randomly bumped into a few acquaintances saturday morning who remembered me and chatted with me, and those little meetings did unspeakably wonderful things for my soul. i think that in the end, all things need roots and connectedness. even i.

the wedding was held on the third floor, open air amphitheatre of the citadel theatre. it was attended by 100 – 150 of adam and aly’s friends, and if you look closely (click on the photo), you will observe the most beautiful woman on the planet, who grew up in airdrie of all places! it was my special honour and privilege to chat with her (and her boyfriend) at the reception dinner. the ceremony was lovely, and i was lucky enough to find ONE person who i knew in aly’s vast circle of friends to sit with and converse.

the reception, as i’ve already mentioned, was full of unexpected delights, but i left early to let the kids have their fun and to visit a friend of my mother’s who was eager to meet with me. i failed to meet up with my party animal friends, so there was an unfortunate lack of saturday night fever for me in oiltown.

i did manage to drive around the city a few times before my sunday afternoon departure to try and discover what had changed around town. i drove to my old neighbourhood where i grew up to see my old home and the places that i would go to think; i drove to my old high school and whyte avenue where i would become the person i am today; i went to the west end and all around the downtown to see where i had come from – the whole odyssey  took about three hours. i was happy though to spend a good deal of time with my old friend wally and his family… i’d ignored him for far too long.

but then i went to the arlington. it had always (in my lifetime) been something of a dive, but it had undeniable character and spirit – due in no small part to its age and the resonance of all the lives and drama that had passed through it. it burned down a couple of years ago, but it still remains in the core of downtown, gutted on the inside but shining and proud on the outside. i thought about how that was a little how i felt at this point of my life. so much of my joyful, passionate, romantic moments have exploded and immolated in the heat of the moment, but there still remains a facade of potential on the outside while the reality of the interior is far more dangerous and precarious.   but that’s another blog entry.

my trip to edmonton could have been a simple trip home to visit some friends and family, but instead, it was very much an existential shift for me. i’ve always felt that i was someone from edmonton merely travelling around the world until i came back to my home. this was the first time i’d ever felt that i was someone from somewhere else travelling to edmonton as an outsider. both realities suit me just fine.

– g