I alway told myself that I would never move back to Alberta, not because I don’t love my family, I just hate the climate, the 8 month winters to be exact. Yet here I am hunkering down for a long winter in Alberta…or am I?
After saving up enough money, I booked myself a ticket to Bali, Indonesia and left for my first solo trip that lasted 3 weeks. I’ll go more into detail on that adventure later, but now back to Berta.
So the first couple weeks I was reflecting back on my relationships, then I was looking forward to new relationships, particularly one with a man and a Redbone coonhound. They had been on my mind every day since I returned to Alberta, but I didn’t want to fantasize about a long distance relationship, I felt like it would eventually fade away and I couldn’t face another heartbreak.
James was different, he understood that if were going to have anything happen between us he wanted the real deal. When he told me he’d drive all the way here to see me, and took two weeks off work, I realized this man was serious, as low stress as he was.
I was anxious to see him again, after only hanging out for a week and not even sharing that much intimacy between us, what if everything I was feeling was something I had imagined? The moment I saw him pulling up with a VW van and Red riding shot gun, my heart leaped. I still wanted to seem cool and conserved, but the moment he embraced me in his arms again, I melted.
Apparently James had many friends around Alberta, so we were quick to start our adventures. Originally we had planned to go on a natural hot springs road trip, but then we discovered that we’re both not really into planning so much, and so our adventure became a play it by ear and see how we feel.
I remember driving out to Lake Louise to hike up to the teahouse with Jase and all the dogs, that’s when I discovered James’s liking for country music. I hadn’t been with anyone that reminded me of my roots as much as this guy was bringing back the memories in full force. All the good warm, wholesome, hay stacked barns and smell of horses kind of memories and feelings. Something I’d turned away from after leaving Texas behind. Even the way he drove half caring about exactly how straight he was driving and boasting his enthusiasm for all the local artist from Alberta with songs like “Magpie” and lyrics that mentioned the same kind of winding roads.
When we realized we wouldn’t make it to Lake Louise before dark we easily changed plans and he was up for basically any twist or turn that’d take us up some kind of trail.
When he met my mother, I of course was anxious to get it over with, what statement would she make, what questions would she ask. I dreaded every single one, but then his character was quick to reveal that he was easy going, quick to reciprocate, and everything he reminded me, was a low stress situation. He told me that stress to him, is like boring, he doesn’t do either. What kind of twisted guru are you? I wondered, and how do I get to be more like that?
Our next adventure was out East into the prairies, where a long time friend of his owned a farm. He took me to a pub he had known before and we played a few rounds of pool, drank a couple Caesars and coronas. Probably one of my favourite things to do is drink a beer whilst playing pool. He showed me a blood stain on a piece of decor that had been there for almost a decade, from a pub brawl that had happened years ago, not his blood though of course. I enjoyed the bit of history.
Then we set out for the farm, again listening to country music and moving through the farmland reminded me of my childhood. This time it felt good to go back there, I could feel my heart warming up. We let the hounds loose and they ran to their hearts content. I was given a tour around the farm and then at some point we looked at the sighlo and James and his friend insisted we climb to the top. I was game! I knew I had a fear of heights, but I didn’t want that to stop us from having fun.
As we approached, I began to realize how big the thing actually was, 150ft to be exact. I started to feel my gut tighten, but I reached for the bars and began the ascent, half way up I started freaking out. “I cant do it!!!” But James wasn’t having it, he kept on right behind me and told me there was no turning back now. I threw a bit of a fit, but he was more stubborn than I was, amazing! I kept going and by the time I got to the top I was exhausted, and still terrified, but so proud! The guys laughed at me, but I didn’t care I did it and that’s all that mattered. We hung out there for a bit and I never fully stood up, but the view was incredible.
On the way down, I crawled backwards and knew not to look down. I then demanded that James would sing me a sea chantey to give me a pace to climb down to, his friend joined in and they both sang “What do you do with a drunken sailor” All the way down the ladder. Now one of my favourite go to working songs.
That night I cooked everyone baked burritos and made whiskey sours, my version of southern comforts. James seemed to be delighted as did everyone else and we spent the night hootin and howlin. I’ve always found that if you want to get to know someone, getting to know their friends is a great way to understanding them a bit more. So far everyone has been real wholesome folks, that don’t seem to stress too much about anything and all of them hold their friends and family at the highest importance. That was a good green light for me.
We made our way back to Cochrane and I got to meet more of his friends that were coincidently my neighbours practically. A man he had worked with up in the fields and his wife and two children. I use to feel self conscious when I would meet people that seemed to have it all figured out, but this time I felt welcomed and admired how we could still chill and be ourselves while having kids around. The second time we went to visit them, the toddler fell on his noggin and they wanted to take him in to the doctor right away, they left us with their older daughter around 4 years old or so and we painted pumpkins while we waited for them to come back. That was the first time I thought to myself about having kids with this man I was just getting to know still. We had fun and I was reminded at how much I enjoyed being around children and that was something I wanted again.
It was getting closer for the time for James and Red to return to B.C and I was sad not knowing when I’d see him again. I knew I was about to go traveling, although I didn”t know when I knew I had to go and do it alone.
We ended up going to Banff for a night, where we soaked up in the hot springs and then had a night out on the town. Everything we did was fun, just walking down the street was fun, going to order a drink was fun, deciding which bar to go to next was fun, we began a game of asking our bartenders which pub they’d go to after work and then find it and ask the bartender there the same question. It didn’t last very long, when we eventually ended up at Magpies! A Mexican joint with margaritas and enchiladas. We returned back to our hotel and the next day we knew it was time to part ways.
I don’t know if we had expected to have the type of trip he had when he first ventured out to Alberta, but it ended up being a wholesome adventure that left me feeling full and warm and fuzzy in the inside, but I didn’t know when I’d be able to see him again, so we couldn’t make it official. Besides James knew that I needed time to commit to a real relationship and he didn’t want to put any pressure on that.
When we parted ways we split the dogs up and as I drove the opposite direction my heart sank. I went back to work on landscaping, and soon booked my vacation to Bali, but I gave myself a two week layover in B.C to spend more time with James and Red. In such short periods of time, I’ve managed to make time slow down, enjoying every second, every millisecond, savouring every last drop. Which is why in this next period of time our fling blossomed into something more meaningful and continuously rewarding.
And with that it’s now time for me to walk the hounds ❤