This weekend, I thought I would be on cheer up duty for my daughter, on account of her life plans catastrophically falling apart, but as it turns out her bestie had it handled. I had cleared my schedule to take her to Peach Fest for the weekend, all the way back in B.C., which we just left merely days ago. We usually stay for several weeks. I work from there. In my non work hours I provide vacation delights. But this year we were rushing. Once again, on account of life plans, pre ‘the ruinous stage’. And then, next we knew she was deferring and I was looking at my house. And my house said to me “I am the devil, and I am here for your soul”. And it promised me, that if I was to stay in Calgary for the weekend, I would be its bitch. There would be scrubbing. There would be dusting. There would not just be decluttering, but the awful, dreadful, spirit sucking destitution of DECIDING what to declutter. Of figuring it all out, after a solid, jam packed, intense week of emotionally supporting clients (oh how I love this!) and emotionally supporting SAD children (oh how I love to support but the sadness is just.so.hard.)
And it was that moment, in the stand off with my house and my carpets (bless my carpets as they are worthy of their own, special blog) that I felt it return. From another lifetime. One where I was just a person, not a mother. THE CALL OF THE WILD. GO! It said. Get out of the house. Go…Alone! Oh friends, I wanted to harken. I once trusted that call. But had it rusted, moulded, disintegrated from non-use? What did it even look like? Wild Erin and I had become strangers to one another.
NOW. If you are a faithful reader you will know that I barely made it out of an attempted ALIEN ABDUCTION, just this last week, late at night, on the highway no less. I was not game to try that again. And so I brain stormed, hard core, how I might honour the call of my summer gypsy spirit who said Be free Erin, swim in the lakes with the fishies, and the Ogopogo, bask in the sun, be one with the festival! But safely. Sort of like going to Woodstock with your chaperone and your very own police officer. Well, what ensued was not pretty. My inner parent was tired and did NOT want to fork out more energy, while my inner child latched onto her leg, and begged. Everyone in the mall stared.
“Please, mommy, please. I wanna go swimming. It’s soooo magical there.”
“Three days is NOT enough time for 2 ten hour drives” I argued back. “I just can’t, deary”.
And then I called everyone I knew, and I want you to just take a moment of gratitude that I did not, in fact, call you, and ask you to drive, because I guarantee you, I CONSIDERED IT! At one point, I questioned the sanity of so much effort going into whether or not to take a break from my efforts. As it turns out, friend, sometimes I do the suffering, and then teach you how to do statistically significantly less of it.
At last, I reached a point where I could no longer tolerate the painful TIME IS PASSING of my own inner hostage crisis, and I began to repack my bags, and my car, until I found myself driving to somewhere at nine o’clock, IN THE EVENING. I just went. I was living the Anais Nin quote where the pain of staying in my bud was greater than my fear of blooming, blah, blah, blah (I mean it’s pretty the way she says it).
I drove, alone.
ROFLMAO, at, MYSELF.
Actually, I talked to my sister on the phone, and reasoned that I could leave from Banff at 5 am and make it to Penticton in time to run, swim, and hit the festival for the evening and that would avoid further alien encounters.
SO, I made an adventure of it.
Which I had not done, in like, SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many years.
Did I think I was 20?
In Banff, I visited the Rose and Crown. The parking outside was solid until 7 am. I had a mattress and pillow set up in the back of the van. To my DELIGHT I found an aged rock band playing at decibel 9000! But, on the plus, no cover charge, and the wine was not gross (take your win, Erin). In short order I spotted a man lurking. I tried to avoid eye contact, but then an accidental glance over the server’s shoulder was all of the encouragement he needed, and he BEE-LINED over. I mean, to his credit, he was a PHD level chemist, so he was not shoddy conversation. But he was handsy. And I was NOT in the market for a late night, mountainside hook up. So, nice chat. Then, to my further delight, in the ten foot walk to my van there was late night pizza by the slice, and I got the last veggie! I curled up on my mattress with all of my blankies and ate my ZA, and slept until dawn.
The drive the next day was GLORIOUS!
The sun shone, in all of its happy sunshiny make everything better glory.
Driving was not nearly as tiring as I expected.
I cruised into Penticton, parked, and within 5 hot mins I was in my runnin’ gear and out the door. I mean I coulda shoulda stretched, but fuck it, I was on a schedule. I ran up the bench road to Naramata. Lower, middle, upper. I ran, and I ran, past all of the wineries I could have been touring and drinking at, if I’da had a buddy, but alas, I DID NOT. I was making a decision to get the frick out of a dodgy area when I spotted ‘El Signo!’. A playing cared ensconced in the dirt. The SIX of DIAMONDS. Which in the tarot, equates to the Six of Pentacles. Something working itself out, generally in your favour. Well, my HIGHER HOLY had my attention. I liked it. Someone, was trying to tell me SOMETHING. And it was not my evil house, lol.
I ran past winery after winery. Vista after vista.
The weather, well the weather had been involved in my fight with Mama Erin. It was a forecast of rain, and cloud. What’s the point, Mama had said to me, of driving all of that way if you aren’t even gonna get your sunshine, girl? I had no good answer. Just big, wide, hopeful eyes.
Well, friend, hope was my bitch that day, ‘cause it was nice up on that bench.
When I made it back to the beach, to snooze and read (I was on a 5 hour of sleep sitch), the clouds were gaining. But I cared, less. I swam a good swim. As I crawled out, pretty pleased with my conviction, I am not going to lie, I was approached by, well, a man.
I didn’t know what the what, at first.
I mean, I guess he was handsome, in a ‘something’s not quite right’ kinda way. I don’t know. I felt the impulse to just be nice, and compassionate. He reciprocated, by sharing, in a very difficult to decipher kind of voice, that he had some medication to relax his stiff muscles, which, if I heard it straight, was on account of another medication that caused muscle stiffness. Anyhow, he did a little show and tell, getting the meds out of his back pack. Then he offered that he had in fact smoked a joint while watching me swim from the bench. That was not creepy, AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!! I mean, I wasn’t sure how much was drug addled daze and how much simple minded, and how much ‘run for your life’, but when he asked me for coffee JESUS took over, and told him that I could not possibly, because I was meeting some friends at Peachfest in merely minutes. Friends. Like travelling alone, but different.
He left, but seemingly unoffended.
I proceeded to the van where I freshened my beach hair and applied some makeup.
I was a GOOD mom to little adventure seeking me.
I emerged, a goddess. In a PEACH coloured dress no less, which was a total accident. I had not planned to wear peach at PEACHFEST, but that’s how I knew I was being watched over, fo sho.
Eat, pray, love mini-vacay adventure boot camp was going pretty well.
At the festival, well I wandered. I shopped. I ate a salad. I ate an ice cream.
And then, this UK band appeared on stage with a pianist that I would have married right there on the spot. I mean, not really, but this is my best shot of expressing the magnitude of his talent and magnetism. He made my night. BEN RIVERS. Yep. I think he is semi retiring, but if you can talk him out of it, well I’ll go with you to the ends of the earth to see him. Let’s start planning. He was a wizard and the highlight of the festival, getting all 6000 of us to sacrifice the last twenty percent of our phone battery life to making a human sea of lights for his 18 year old son on the sax. I met some really nice folk. We talked about the talent. They told me about a parade in the morning, followed by the best market in the region. But by now higher me had taken over, and she said go spend a day with your mom and aunty. And I just trusted her.
After driving, running, swimming and dancing I drove some more. My mom’s new air conditioning unit was clearly designed for bringing the ice capades to Dubai, so I crawled into my fuzzy jams and slept.
The next day, after a lovely visit, I discovered that the ALL-MIGHTY is also a gypsy. Against all of the forecasting and quashing of hopes the ACTUAL SUN shone for over an hour on the beach. WOW. I was reverant. I read. I swam. I read some more. I swam some more.
I found Nirvana, and they found me, and I inspired them, through time travel, to write their famous song, Smells Like Gypsy Spirit. Or something like that. They were doped up. They may have gotten the lyrics wrong. Nevermind.
That night I watched a film with Mom and Aunty.
The next day I drove to Penticton for my final swim and a last walk around the festival before returning home to Calgary. But guess what? I am not writing this from Calgary. SO, a plot twist.
I parked on the Penticton beach, to discover that only one human was in the water. It was cold. It was aggressively windy. I REALLY wanted that last swim before the drive home. And so, I did this. I walked to the water ensconced in my beach blanket. I waded in up to my ankles. Within 5 minutes my feet were fine. The problem, and the reason the entire town was in jackets, was the wind. So, I chanted really fast to myself you’re not cold the water is warm, you’re not cold the water is warm, and then I jumped in.
My swim was glorious. Choppy and wavy, and I drank a little lake water, but I emerged a goddess of the lake, and swiftly wrapped myself in both towel and then blanket. I had left my purse and all of my belongings in the car, because, who was I kidding, there would be no reading on the beach in this chill-ville. Well friend. I arrived at the car, and checked my pockets for the key.
I checked my pockets a dozen more times, in case of magic.
Clearly I had locked the keys in the car.
But then, as I gazed painfully through the tinted glass, I realized that I had to have had the keys to actually lock the car.
But then, where were the keys?
Well, I observed the expanse of sand ahead.
Somewhere in all of that sand.
My purse was in the car. If I could not get in, I was waiting with no money, in a wet bikini, for rescue from GOD ONLY KNOWS? Who was gonna rescue me?
And then, I remembered! When I climbed out of the frothy water, whipping my sodden swim bun, which is like the fabled goddess of the sea, but a touch less glamorous, a little more Lady of the Lake, I had been inspired to draw two hearts with my toe, in the sand, where I had been sitting. Which meant, dear Watson, that I could relocate where I had actually been sitting. Which had to be in the general radius of my key.
I don’t know HOW I noticed the ever so slight protrusion in the sand. The less than one millimeter glint of silver under the overcast sky. But I did, after what seemed like a stretch of eternity. I stood up, clutching my keys in hand like a baby rescued from a fire.
And that is when I heard a voice (not the evil house voice, or the call of the wild voice or Jesus, like a real person one). “THAT, was a close call!” I looked up to see handsome bearded gent watching intently. “Oh my God, you have no idea. My purse was in my car”. I felt like we had been through it together! “Well, at least you found them.” As I walked along the sand fiercely clutching the key to my small Universe I heard his voice again and turned.
“You are really effing gorgeous by the way!” And you know, he said it with such enthusiasm.
Let me paint a pic. You could not see my bikini because I was wrapped like a turducken, in a towel inside a blanket, my messy water logged Lady of the Lake swim bun protruding, probably a little old mascara rubbed beneath my eyes.
I did not lose my keys in the sand and find myself stranded alone in Penticton in a wet bikini with no purse or change of clothing and a non-drug addled man thought I was a thing of beauty. I have been driving for 33 years, so if you’re doing the math, well, I took my win.
Other things that did not happen to me on my way home: I did not get hit by the driver that flipped his car upside down into the ditch three minutes before I came around the bend; when my electric seat adjusting mechanism went haywire while I was driving ACTUALLLY crushing me into the steering wheel, I did not drive off a cliff —I was able to turn on my hazards slow down to 30 and somehow get the seat to reverse without losing control of the vehicle; I did not glide off the highway the first time in my life I actually legit hydroplaned; and I was not accosted by the burglar who tried to break into my van while I was sleeping in it to wait out the rain. Instead he was terrified to hear a voice yelling at him from what he assumed was the empty dark within, and apologized profusely before speed-walking off in the other direction.
I DID find another card in the dirt, running in my family’s town on day two. The King of Spades. In tarot he is the master communicator, the writer of the deck. There was a time when I would have read into that, wink wink, nudge. It would have been a big deal. I may have even dropped everything to go in search of another clue!
So maybe don’t tell my inner mom about all of those terrible things that didn’t really almost happen to me, did they?
Just in case.
You never know.
You may wanna come with.
— Love Erin
P.S. I’m setting up my fall schedule. If you’d like a spot waiting for you when the summer shenanigans wind down talk to me.
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