The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind. I flew into Vancouver with my Dad on Thursday to help a family member move. The plan was to rent a truck when we landed, pack the stuff, and drive it into Regina – he with the truck, me with her car. We got back into town yesterday afternoon, emptied the truck, and settled in for the night at mom’s. Mission accomplished. I will say that the trip was quite moving.
Ha. Pun. Didn’t mean for that to happen. I digress.
I think I was 8 when Dad and I last flew somewhere together. He bought a septic truck in Edmonton to replace the one that was totalled in an accident. His business was in jeopardy and time was of the essence. I’m certain the trip was quite nerve wracking for him, but for me it was something I’ll never forget. I got to be with my dad on a plane, and later on a long road trip home. We ate borscht in a roadside cafe on the way home. He kept playing with the split-shift, learning how to use it, because his last truck didn’t have one. I didn’t need to be on that trip with him, but he brought me along. Didn’t take my brother. Just me. Made the whole thing extra special.
This trip was a bit different from that experience. It’s been three decades. We’ve both evolved into our own way of doing things. Some of these things include the way we travel. He likes to wake up early and putz around in the morning. I was sitting in the car waiting for him, watching the minutes go by. Our plane was going to be boarding in 25 minutes and we still hadn’t left the house! I was livid as we stood in the security line in the airport, hearing the final call for our flight being announced. “Don’t worry,” he said, “they won’t leave without us.”
I bit hard on my lip, and tried not to lose my cool. “Yes they will,” I muttered under my breath. We stood in silence, the rest of our wait.
A second security line miraculously opened up just as I was preparing the speech I was about to bash him over the head with. We made it onto the plane with less than a minute to spare. The speech would have to retire to that place in my mind where I send ammunition for future inevitable arguments. By the time we landed in Calgary, my anger had given way to distraction, as I chatted up the hot girl sitting beside me. She had a ring on her left finger and her man was sitting behind her. Guess my chances weren’t very good. At least I wasn’t mad at my dad anymore.
It was great to be back in Vancouver. Not sure when I’ll ever return. We rented a truck and had it about 90% loaded when I left to meet my friend McKenzie for drinks. I guess Dad confused me ‘stating my intention to leave when it was convenient’ with ‘asking for permission.’ He gave it – which was nice, but not really on the table for discussion in my mind.
McKenzie left Toronto a few months back to work on a movie in Vancouver. In a few more weeks she’ll be headed back to Australia indefinitely. Couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see her one more time. What do I say about that conversation? She paid for the drinks. We laughed. We philosophized. We shared our stories. Then I walked her to work. “See you someday soon,” was the last thing I said to her. Might have to make a trip to Oz to realize that statement. Who knows what the future may bring.
When I got back to the condo, Dad had the truck loaded. Nothing to do but talk with the previously mentioned family member. Can’t get into details right now because I’m sharing those details with her, and I don’t want to complicate her situation more than it already is. Lots of memories. Lots of love. Lots of thoughts I choose not to be conscious of right now. Simpler that way.
And then there is Dad. He was up at 3 fucking AM and got my ass out of bed at 4am. We were on the highway by 4:30 because he didn’t want to get caught up in Vancouver traffic. Had he bothered to consult my opinion, I would have reminded him that I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Vancouver over the years, and Saturday morning traffic at say, 6:30 or 7am is negligible at best. I remember driving through a snow covered mountain pass, bleary eyed, wishing I would have mentioned that to him.
Guess I’m just in the habit of going along with his plans when he puts himself in charge of something. We drove 16 hours that day. My head hit the pillow and I was pretty sure that fixating on highway lines at night for that long had me road stoned. Inanimate objects were bending and vibrating in the hotel room. Two extra hours of sleep that morning would have been nice.
Dad had me out of bed at 5:30am the next morning. Why fucking why!? In six hours we’d be home. I didn’t see why it was so important to be there so early in the day. He mentioned something about wanting to unload and get the truck returned. Twenty minutes later I found myself sitting in the car with the engine running in the hotel parking lot for five minutes waiting waiting waiting, wondering why I was waiting when we’re in such a big damned hurry to be on the road. When I stormed back into the hotel room to see what the delay was, I discovered my father cleaning the coffee pot that came with the room!
“It’s a hotel room dad! We don’t have to clean it when we leave!”
Later, he had a nice long drawn-out conversation with the gas station attendant in North Battleford, before spending another 10 minutes sitting in the truck consulting his notes. I idled in the gas station parking lot the whole time, calculating how many more minutes of sleep I had given up to be there.
Eventually we were back on the highway. My radio was off and my mind turned with the miles. Lots to think about. Memories of my dad. Memories of my family in a life I once lived. Memories of my career. Ambitions for the future. Toronto. Suddenly the walkie comes alive. Dad is radioing me, suggesting we stop in Lumsden (20 minutes outside Regina) to wash the car. “No,” was the only word to pass my lips before I could even contemplate a response. Saying more would have been unkind.
By the time it came to unloading the truck my patience had run out. Dad and I had different ideas about how to most efficiently complete the operation. The objections became a bit loud, and the whole time, I kept thinking of our road trip three decade previous.
We weren’t really disagreeing about logistics. Those were just words. We were caught up in some stupid alpha male thing. The classic father/son struggle for identity and dominance.
I think its hard for parents to let go of the idea that their children aren’t children anymore. Sometimes it’s hard for the children to remember that their parents are used to being in a certain role. I love my dad. This trip was one I’ll never forget. I just wish we didn’t have to be in such a big damned hurry to get it over with.