As you can probably tell from the title, I’m home in New Brunswick this week with my mum. And having double-checked the meaning of that word “prodigal,” I’m not sure it’s appropriate. Even if I do fit the story of the prodigal child in some ways… I am the youngest, who did go away, and now returns hoping to be welcomed with open arms… I don’t fit the rest of the definition. Not rashly extravagant and wasteful. Okay… maybe extravagant… sometimes. But I’m not returning destitute having spent my inheritance. Funny that, although I know the story of the prodigal child, I never knew the exact meaning of “prodigal.”
So, yep, I’m here at Mum’s now. Hence the radio silence last week, and the lateness of this post. I flew down to Fredericton on Wednesday. Feeling a little nervous about being in crowded airports and on crowded planes. But, other than the sheer impossibility of understanding anything the security attendant said at the Ottawa airport, all was well. I mean… what with his wearing a mask, the plastic shield behind which he stood, the hurriedly shouted instructions, the robotic delivery, and the ambient noise… I stood there for a few seconds looking stupid, as if I’d never done this kind of thing before. Which I have… just not for a while.
I will say in my defence that the new security set-up at the Ottawa airport is near to impossible to navigate without dropping all one’s belongings onto the floor. The previous arrangement allowed me to calmly set a plastic bin on the rollers, then drop my stuff into it, then send it down the line to the X-ray machine, and reach for another bin. But now to make things move more smoothly. Presumably. Ha. They have two points of access in each line. One at the end, and a second one partway along the line.
And I was at the second. Which meant that there was no place to set a plastic bin to allow me to shrug off my coat and scarf. No place to set the bin to allow me to safely lift my carry-on into it. I had to pull a bin from underneath, balance it on a six inch ledge, put my stuff in it, and shove it through a slot in the plexiglass shield onto the rollers which were already moving because the guy at the first station had pushed his bin along. And mine kept sliding away before I had my stuff into it. And the attendant was shouting unintelligible instructions at me while I looked at him uncomprehendingly, arousing amused and superior looks from other travellers. Sigh. Sometimes travel makes me not like people as much as I usually do.
How do people who have never travelled find the courage to do so these days?
I’ve flown a lot over the years, been in tons of airports with attendants speaking numerous languages, and even I get confused. And the few seconds it takes to look carefully at the instructions in a new situation where the drill may not be the exact same as the last airport are almost never granted to travellers. Either by the security people or by other travellers.
And on Wednesday, after I’d cleared security, and was trying to push my feet back in my boots, grab my coat and carry-on, shove passport, boarding pass, and phone back in my bag, and check quickly to make sure I’d not left anything behind before the darned bin moved away… I wanted to yell… “I’m moving as fast as I can.”
Having said all that, the flight attendant on my Montreal to Fredericton leg was lovely. When I asked if they had tea instead of soft drinks and juice, she sallied off to make it just for me. The plane was freezing and everyone had kept their coats on, even the crew. The hot tea went down a treat.
You know, every single time I fly into Fredericton I am amazed at all the trees. Seriously, from the air, New Brunswick seems to be mostly bush.
My sister picked me up at the airport, and dropped me off downtown to get my rental car. When I drove the rental car out of the parking lot at the Lord Beaverbrook Hotel (I know it’s the Crowne Plaza now, but it will always be the Beaverbrook to me) the setting sun was making downtown Fredericton look all golden and inviting. Not that it’s not inviting at other times. But you get my drift.
So instead of heading directly to Mum’s, I drove slowly around the block and along Queen Street pulling over every now and then to take photos. Because maybe the weather would be miserable for the next two weeks, and this would be my only chance.
Fredericton is a pretty photogenic city. Lots of old homes, trees, some lovely old churches. All the downtown street names definitely hearken back to its United Empire Loyalist history: Queen, King, Regent, York, Westmorland, Northumberland, George, Victoria. Then again most cities in the Commonwealth are the same.
But, I’ll just let you have a look at the sights I passed as I circled around the block and up Queen Street in the gentle late afternoon light last Wednesday.
Once over the bridge, I put the pedal to the metal and headed for home. Mum and Carolyn would be wondering what was taking me so long.
My sister drove back to Ontario the next day. So it’s been just me and Mum since then.
I’ve been busy and yet not busy. Helping Mum, cooking things I think Mum will like and which she doesn’t usually get, drinking tea and chatting to neighbours and to Mum’s care-workers. She has a worker for a couple of hours in the morning and again in the late afternoon most days. I walked the trail a couple of cold sunny afternoons. I talk to Hubby on the phone every night. I’ve been knitting. Doing laundry. I drove into town to shop for groceries and books one day. But otherwise, I’ve just been at home with Mum. And somehow whenever I think I will open my iPad to start this post, I don’t. Other things get in the way.
This upcoming week I’ll be spending a bit more time in town. I’ve organized a “girls’ night out” with my three nieces, a great-niece, a great-niece-in-law, and an old friend who might as well be family. I am so looking forward to spending time with these girls. And I’ll be shopping and having lunch with my friend Debbie on Thursday.
I also hope to get into town on my own one afternoon, to stroll around downtown, take some photos, poke around in some shops. I love old downtown Fredericton. And yet I almost never see it on foot anymore. I’m either on my way to or from the airport in a car. I want to be a tourist for a day in my own hometown.
You know, I’ve been musing about the whole prodigal child thing since I started writing this. My first few attempts at adulting did not go well. And I’m thinking that back in the eighties, when I returned from the big city, left my much-hated, stressful sales job, and limped back home to lick my wounds, metaphorically speaking, I was a prodigal child. I was welcomed with open arms by Mum and my step-father. And after a year, newly licensed as a teacher, and nourished by my time at home rediscovering who I really was, and who and what I really wanted to be, I returned to Ottawa. There was no squandered inheritance. But everything else fits.
How lucky we prodigal children are to have such parents, eh?
And I guess when we return now, it’s payback time. Because it’s Mum who needs us these days. And not the other way round.
I’m not sure I be able to post again until I’m back in Ottawa, my friends. But I do have a treat for you later this week. A travel post. All about Scotland. Not written by me. And that’s all I’m saying. You’ll just have to stop by and read it.