Since leaving Canada years ago, the smell of pine trees, the sound of blue jays, and feel of frigid salt water weren’t the only things left behind. The longer I’m gone the more I come to discover how meaningless those memories can be and how important the people who fill them are. One of those people in particular is my childhood companion, best friend, and Cousin Lorenz Arsenault. I’ve known him for as long I can remember and being hardly a couple month apart in age, we’ve always challenged each other throughout our youth in which ultimately shaped us to the men we are today. Much of the mentality I have now probably wouldn’t have been inspired without him by my side in those developmental years where we’re in full awe of discovery and curious of limitations. It was Lorenz who made a deal with me at 17 years old to run our first marathon. Two weeks before the race day I received a call reminding me of our deal in which I couldn’t back down from. Two weeks later on one over cast rainy day in May, we both completed our first marathon without a single kilometer of training. The medal around my neck wasn’t a symbol of running 42 km/s but my first realization that I could push myself to accomplish things in which most people would never try and others would consider impossible. More important yet, those medals were proof of friendship bond that would last a lifetime.
The years went on so did our challenges as we ran another marathon together the following year, dressed in black and broke into active grain elevators, spent long nights with a bottle of rum in fishing boat looking for parties to crash, and swamped the competition when we played on sports teams together. An incredible companion to have growing up but life has separate plans for all of us. On the last night before my plane left Canada we sat high above the street lamps on the peak of my parents’ house drinking a beer and smoking the last of my Cuban cigars before saying goodbye. Both twenty years old we sat gazing at the same glow of city lights but were looking at perfectly opposite futures. As I wondered how many countries I would see in the next couple years, he wondered how many diapers he we need to change as it was that night he told me he was going to be a dad. That’s why it was so important for me to push out over 800km in 5 days from Calgary to Saskatoon in order to be reunited with my long lost friend and spend time with his new family.
An unequal heat spread itself throughout the cottage in a gentle crackle and pop. The occasional backdraft emits a smoky plume into the building lingering in a dull wonderful aroma of burnt hard wood. There’s just nothing like a real wood fire in a cottage that warms me to the bone. Maybe it’s the fact that I spend most of my nights huddled in a cold dark claustrophobic tent with the horrendous smell of my feet and clammy body that make an environment like this so appealing. I’ve spent the entire weekend now, sitting back being immersed in this wood fire while drinking ice cold beers and playing games with my two little second cousins. I love adventure and can’t sit still for more than a few minutes at a time but sitting here in this cottage doing a whole lot of nothing and spending some much needed time with my cousins kids fills me with such an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.
Spending time with my younger nieces and cousins fills me with a feeling I had never expected to feel prior to grandparenthood. I know that these kids won’t remember me the next time they see me, whenever that may be. I do my best to absorb their company in the short amount of time I have to visit but there’s no making up for the years of absence that have gone by. I can’t help but to feel guilty in a way for missing them grow up. Traveling the word is probably the most liberating and satisfying feeling il ever have but like Isaac Newton put it so honestly (For every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction) My own uneducated interpretation of this is for every moment gained is a moment lost somewhere else. As much as I want to stay and spend more time with my family here in Saskatoon, I know that there are friends and family anticipating some cold beers by the fire and an earful of ridiculous stories at my destination. It’s time to push on and get these wheels back on the road, next stop Winnipeg Manitoba.
It’s tough to leave but I’ve learned a valuable lesson in the past few weeks that life is too short to be a stranger to the ones in your heart. I’m no longer a stranger to myself but there’s no way I want to spend any longer being a stranger to the ones who fill my memories. Bring it on Manitoba!