Monday, January 26, 2009

Three Years Later

Today is an anniversary of sorts. Not one I necessarily pull out the cupcakes for (that'll happen tomorrow. Stay tuned!), but an anniversary to be marked nonetheless. Three years ago today, we arrived in Manitoba.
When we left New Brunswick--gorgeous, beautiful, temperate New Brunswick--we were experiencing a particularly warm period, considering we'd just passed mid-January. When we arrived at our hotel in Maine, we were wearing sweatshirts. In retrospect, we were incredibly lucky with the weather and driving conditions. A road trip across Canada (and a few of the more northerly American States) is not something you'd usually want to do in the dead of winter.
As we continued to make our way west, the air temperature got steadily lower, and by the time we made it to North Dakota, we were driving in a white-out. All the Captain had to help him stay on the road were the taillights of the transport truck in front of us. When they closed the main Interstate, we had to follow that truck onto a back road, where we discovered that winter driving is as much a matter of finding religion as it is finding the yellow lines.
When we flopped, exhausted, onto the bed at our motel in Fargo, my purse got knocked over and emptied. The Captain, who likes to read about gross things on the internet, then insisted we pull the top bedspread off the bed before we did anything else. The result of these two things happening one after the other was ten minutes of me thinking I'd dropped my wallet back at the diner in Wisconsin, calling said diner, and trying to formulate a way to get back across the border without any ID when they told me they hadn't found it. Then it turned up under a pillow, narrowly averting an impending aorta explosion in the Captain's chest.
But the food! If there's one thing the Captain is great at, it's planning a road trip around the greatest eats our route has to offer. From the fried haddock at the Maine Diner, to the delicious caramelized onions on the burgers at White Hut, to the Steak N' Shake's milkshakes, that trip will live in my memory for all eternity. If there's only one thing you get from reading my blog, let it be this: do not EVER pass through Syracuse, New York without stopping at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que!!
And then we crossed back into Canada. Firstborn, who'd been suffering from a fever the entire trip, needed a diaper change, so we stopped at the first rest area we could find. I hopped out of the car to be hit with the most chilling wind I'd felt in years. There was no doubt about it. We were in Manitoba.
But I was going to make the best of it. I'd loved living in New Brunswick so much, the beautiful autumn colours, the user-friendly base we'd been living on, and the easy neighbourliness of Maritimers. Firstborn and I had started taking walks to the store, the library and the park shortly after we'd gotten there. He was an only child for most of our stay, and it had been the happiest time of my life. I was sad to leave, but life is what you make of it.
When we got to the base, two hours after crossing the border, my optimism was fading. The snow, the barrenness of this province, and the frighteningly run-down state of the nearest communities to our new base didn't inspire a lot of confidence. And when we pulled into the main gates to find no grocery store, no library, and a street that seemed like a ghost town (a huge number had just deployed to Afghanistan), it was all I could do to keep from crying.
It turns out that in the unlikely event a military family is posted to a new base in winter ("posting season" is usually May through August), it's best if they don't have an eight-week old baby in tow. Rosemary's Baby was the easiest baby in history (because he was saving it all up for toddlerhood), but the hormones he left coursing through my veins did not mix well with everything else that was going on at the time. Let's just say the next two months were hell and leave it at that.
But then the sun came out and the snow melted. I'd made a couple of friends and suddenly there we were, me, Firstborn and Rosemary's Baby hitting the park again. We found a house to buy. It was exactly what we'd always wanted. Space for kids and dogs. Privacy from prying eyes (not that we have anything that exciting going on, but military bases do attract their fair share of busybodies). A huge garden for the Captain.
And now here we are three years later. We have a few good friends, a house we love, a great school for the kids, home-grown vegetables and fruit, and dogs who no longer look like they belong at fat camp.
I still look back on New Brunswick fondly. But it turns out that life really is what you make of it. If the Captain came home today and told me he'd been posted someplace else, I'd be just as sad to leave as I was three years ago. Life in Manitoba is just fine with me.
Maybe I'll make those cupcakes after all.

No comments: