Plane, train, automobile: anything but a bus

When I was about 12 or 13 years old, my cousin and I rode our first city bus.  Ever.

My age here is important, because it does somewhat excuse my total lack of bus-riding know-how, including the somewhat relevant topic, “How and when to get off”.

I blame my cousin.   She’s older.  She should have known.

I can’t remember the details.  That is, I don’t remember where we were when we got on the bus.  I do know we were aiming for home, or at least within visual distance of home.  It was a good plan.  Get on the bus and go home.

We confidently strode up the steps, dropped our coins into the little drain thingy and swaggered to the seats at the very back, sitting as far from other people as possible and probably made fun of everyone else, giggling at them with that tweenager’s sense of superiority.  We looked around every time someone got off and said to each other with an air of supreme omniscience, “Nope, don’t wanna get off here”.

And then we were suddenly alone, very late at night, travelling along poorly paved and rutted roads in totally alien territory, and the bus driver was telling us, shouting to us because we hadn’t moved from the very back, that in two stops we would reach the terminal and the bus would be parked until morning.

We knew we did not want to go to the terminal.

We knew we did not want to get off in the middle of nowhere, one stop away from the terminal.

We got off in the middle of nowhere, one stop away from the terminal.

Because we were stupid.

There was nothing recognizable in that pitch blackness lying beyond the single weak street lamp we were standing under.  So we started walking, and eventually found a phone booth.  Then it was a toss-up over whose parents to call.

There was a little bit of trouble about that.

But that’s not important.

What’s important is that today, more than 45 years later, I still have only that one bus-riding experience in my portfolio.

And today I’m taking a bus.

I have spent the last 2 and one-half hours (2 and ½ hours!) planning my route, memorizing times, bus-stop numbers and locations.  I have google-mapped street views of both pick-up and drop-off areas, and snapped photos of these to my phone so I can reference them at will.  I have counted out exactly $2.75 (what? $2.75??  I thought buses were, like, 25 cents) for my 12 minute ride from the corner of 24th Avenue and 172nd Street to the Semiahmoo Mall entrance, written down how many stops we will pass along the way, google-mapped how long it will take me to walk from my home to the bus stop and again street-viewing the walking route to make sure I don’t miss the entrance to the short-cut trail between blocks, and made a note of the next bus time in case I miss this one.  I have agonized and deliberated and considered and compared and finally made my plan.  I have also programmed a taxicab number into my phone’s emergency speed dial.

I’m ready to put to rest any lingering doubts and fears I have about public transit.

And I’m telling you all of this so you know I tried my very best to not be the subject of a Silver Alert tonight.

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Hospice Volunteering

I was recently asked why I volunteer at the White Rock South Surrey Hospice Society.  Fair question.  Here’s my answer.

Some days it seems that our social world is in a steep and depressing decline.

We are constantly bombarded with so many negative images and messages online, on television and in person that it erodes our confidence in civilization.

Although we have made tremendous strides in technology, medicine and science, these positives are overshadowed by scores of personal attacks, disrespect, anger, wars, lawsuits, mass murders and a too-common disregard for one another. The world feels out of control, where laws are flouted and basic human rights are forsaken.

But every time I step through the doors of our Hospice Society, I am surrounded by people who care deeply about their work and about each other; about the clients; about children and elderly neighbours; about increasing awareness of this important and overlooked facet of life; about bringing grace, dignity, hope, peace and calm to disrupted lives.

These people restore my faith in us all. They give me confidence that all is not lost. They are kind. And every single day they strive to do the best possible work in support of the Hospice programs and services.

I could go on and on about the personal attributes and talents and skills that they bring to share with others. But it’s best to just reiterate this: They are kind.

And if I can still learn about kindness and spread that around, then count me in.

Release Mom

I’m a mom.   And clearly a throwback to pre-women’s lib because that statement is how I’ve defined myself for over 27 years.  I’ve been and done other things, but being a mom is the most important part about me.

I can qualify my mom-dom.  I’ve been, at various times, a super-mom, a sucky-mom, a stick-in-the-ass-mom, a mean-mom and a best-mom.   Yup, I am all of those things.  I have been forced to redefine my mom-self according to circumstance but at the heart of me is mom-hood and that gives me joy.  The biggest challenges have been the Releases.

I’m working on a new Release today and it is a tricky one.  It has taken 27 years to get here.  There have been practice runs along the way, starting with pre-school, the first time I released my child into the world or, rather, into a sweet little mini-sized-everything Montessori classroom for 5 mornings a week.

Next was full-day school and, once I got the hang of that, I practiced the Release with dance instructors and sport coaches,  although I cheated a bit at those because I could still keep her within my sight-lines as she learned to pirouette like a lady and check like a beast.

And so it went.  I graduated to Sleepover Release , School Trip Release, and eventually to University Release.  You’d think I’d have gotten used to it, but I wept anyway, as I did during Her Own Apartment Release.

None of it was easy.  Growing pains hurt.  They are alleviated by the excitement and the pride, but no Release happens without worry and a little crack in the heart.

The constant is that wherever her dad and I live is her “HOME” and home is her destination for every holiday, and for any weekend visits during the year she lived a 5-hour drive away.  She has her bedroom at home, and a 13-year-old dog who is still her dog.

And this constant gives me the strength to not throw myself in front of her car every time she leaves home after a weekend visit, or a quick overnighter.   Mom (okay, and Dad) is “home”.  Mom will always be “home”.

She bought her first house this month, with her boyfriend, and thrust me callously and harshly into this new test.

She won’t wake up in her childhood home this Christmas morning.  Home is no longer what it was.  There will be home, and there will be Mom’s place, and the two are not the same any more.

Ultimate Release.