Picture it, a cold rainy Saturday in November (just two days ago, actually.) Two exhausted middle-aged people wake up late in the morning and frantically start packing up to drive to ‘the city’ (Prince George, BC) for a John Mellencamp concert. They need this little break desperately after months of grueling work on the old house they bought in a small northern town this summer. So they’ve booked a room for the night near the venue and they look forward to just kicking back, a little romance (they’ve splurged on a nice bottle of wine), a relaxing dinner out and a rockin’ time at the concert. This will be so much better than aching bodies from the cellar reconstruction, so much better than bickering with each other and worrying about the unmanageable amount of work still to do before the snow flies.
They’ve set up a dehumidifier in the cellar and determined that it can run for 24 hours before the 5 gallon bucket it’s draining into will overflow. They jump in the car – bicker bicker bicker – in the pouring rain and drive about 15 minutes out of town before someone says do you have the tickets? and someone else says Oh crap! Drive back to town in awkward silence to get the tickets.
At least they’re not bickering!
It takes about an hour to drive from Vanderhoof to Prince George. This is when it will start to be fun, they think as they arrive at their motel to check in. Until the desk clerk informs them that their reservation is for tomorrow night. What?
Are you going to the hockey game? asks a couple waiting in the lobby. – No, we’re going to the John Mellencamp concert, they reply. – Hockey tonight, the couple says, The concert is tomorrow.
They awkwardly step aside to discuss their options:
Let’s just stay an extra night!
We have a bucket in the cellar that will overflow in 24 hours.
They go to Costco and get that shopping out of the way at least and eat hotdogs for dinner. They drive home in the dark, in a rainstorm, with nearly zero visibility. It takes more than an hour. Everyone is exhausted/headachy, a whole day lost that they could have been working on the house. The bucket still has another 48 hours without fear of overflowing. Crap!!!
They sleep. They wake, they head back to the city. About 15 minutes out of town they realize they still have no heat in the car. And the temperature gauge is behaving weirdly; the radiator is leaking. So, back home and they pile their bags into the truck.
The 26 year old beater of a truck they just bought last month and have never driven more than 3 miles from home in good weather. (This is not good weather; the bright sunshine has now turned to wet snow.) The truck looks really rough, it guzzles gas and it smells kind of weird, and the windshield wipers only work sporadically, but it has heat. And once you get used to the sticky clutch, it almost never stalls in intersections!
Around 4:30 they roll up to the motel and check in (on the right day, this time). It’s a nice room, clean and warm. But no one is saying “this is where it starts to be fun” anymore. Moxie’s is just about a block away and they walk over for dinner – good table, cheerful service, delicious food. It’s snowing harder when they stroll back to the room, but they aren’t worried. They put on some awesome jazz music, uncork that lovely bottle of wine, and . . . an hour later, they call a taxi to get to the venue on time, not that anyone is worrying about time anymore. A cab costs less than paying for parking, and that beautiful wet snow just keeps coming down.
The concert is amazing! John Mellencamp is in great form on his ‘Sad Clowns and Hillbillies’ tour – he still does all his old songs SO perfectly and his newest songs are interspersed and they are GOOD! (Love that bluesy sound. Mellencamp’s voice was made for it!) The band …. the band is awesome! Could this be any better? (Well, a couple screens so you could see closeups of JM now and then, would have been nice. Just sayin’.) But it’s a fantastic evening and they buy a CD and step outside, deciding unanimously that it’s best to skip the taxi line-up and just walk back to the motel.
It’s a winter wonderland. And no one cares that their footwear was not suited to walking in snow. No one cares that all four shoes are soaked inside and out, that they will spend the night drying on the radiator. They even pause at Denny’s, wet feet and all, for tea and pecan pie. Monday morning they will stop at Marks and buy real winter boots, they will stop at Starbucks and get some real yummy lattes, they will drive home in the sunshine on clear roads with beautiful snow laden trees all around.
It’s easier to smile now. It’s so easy to speak gently, to hold hands, to believe that it’s all going to be alright. Because it is. That’s what they’re learning here – In the end, it’s all alright. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.
Photo Credits: Randy Forgo (except ‘The Beast’, that’s one’s mine…and it shows!)