View from Hike

Dear diary, today was a good day.

Friends!

It’s been almost a month since I’ve last put fingers to laptop in an earnest attempt to pen the CRAP out of a blog post.

But things be happening.

At the beginning of August I traveled to the lush and magical land of Hawaii and spent eight days hiking, running, swimming, snorkeling, attending weddings, and waking up at the crack of dawn in order to witness the most spectacular sunrises of life (again, and again, and again!)

I mean, if there is one thing I can say about crawling out of bed every day at 5:30am – on vacation at that – it’s just that there are some things in life that are hands down worth it EVERY TIME.

I mean, why wouldn’t you want to get up early everyday when you’re viewing things like THIS:

Sunset

IT’S JUST TOO GOOD.

Some other snaps:

Beaching!

Beaching!

Hike

Hiking!

Wedding-ing!

Wedding-ing!

Travelling home I was so incredibly knackered from all of the physical activity, coupled with the early morning beach trips, that it was all I could do to keep my eyes open as the flight attendant prepped myself and the other folks sitting in the emergency exit row. As soon as she left, I put up my hood, wrapped by arms about my body, and settled down to (what I hoped to be) a relatively uneventful five and a half hours of airplane rest.

I was just drifting off to dreamland, when another flight attendant woke me up with a look of grave concern on her face.

“Yes?” I asked.

She looked at me and loudly whispered, “I’m sorry, but I just need to confirm before we take off, as you’re sitting in the emergency exit row, that you are over sixteen years of age?”

Oh how I laughed (and thanked her, weirdly?)

However, I did want to clarify that she was asking due to my physical appearance and not, you know, in reaction to my general comportment.

She just looked at me weirdly and then told me that I looked young for my age.

(I probably shouldn’t have used the word “comportment.” I think it REALLY aged me.)

However, I won’t lie and say that I didn’t smile and smile as I drifted off to (my much needed,) thirty thousand foot, recycled air dreamscape.

Strangely, these early morning events never curtailed after arriving home from Oahu.

In fact, for about two months now, I’ve been getting up before work and running like a loon, mostly in preparation for my marathon on November 2nd, but also because the weather has been so darned hot I cannot fathom leaving the office in the afternoon and belting out a 10k in 25+ celcius temperatures.

Because gross.

Also. Man. November 2nd.

Let’s not beat around the bush here folks – that date is very soon. And what with how quickly days seem to be slipping between my fingers, I’ll probably take a long nap in a week or two and wake up on race day fretting about the fact that I’ve forgotten to pick up my race package in time.

Good grief.

OKAY. What else has been hammering at the proverbial workbench of life…

I have been doing quite a few speaking engagements and interviews for work, hosting the radio show, Big Sistering it up, and trying to get my head wrapped around the idea of sifting through approximately 400 blog posts in the attempt to MAYBE put together a book proposal based on all of these insane musings.

Because you know – everybody has to have a goal right?

Or else what the heck is the point of chewing through those leathers straps every morning!?

Since being gifted with free HD cable, Marc and I have been watching a crap ton of US Open tennis because everything else on the ol’ boobtube is absolute garbage, and the only thing that will ever get me to turn on the television is electric athletes and their incredible displays of strength and agility.

Anything and everything else? Just GTFO.

On September 16th my AMAZING friend Alex and I are headed to the Kaiser Chiefs concert and I have all of the excitement.

Equally because Alex is truly one of the greatest people I am lucky to count as a friend in my life, and also because the Kaiser Chiefs are such tip-top groovemeisters and I cannot wait to get my epic dance moves on to their fab tunes.

The last time this band was in town I was forced to go to the concert by myself, which in retrospect wasn’t all that horrid and turned out to be quite a blast. However, in my nervous state, I drank half a bottle of wine and ended up speaking in the absolute worst British accent of all time to the teenager who wouldn’t stop pestering me for my phone number on the skytrain home.

Because I am the worst and desperately needed him to shut up, I just threw in the towel and gave him Marc’s cell phone number.

(Which I am still laughing about to this day.)

(This may also be why I am mistaken for sixteen year-olds on airplanes.)

Finally, I have been reading some absolutely excellent texts of late, including the newest Murakami (melancholy and beautiful, as always), some old Henning Mankell (that I somehow missed? P.S. I am planning a trip to Sweden next April so STAY TUNED), some Jo Nesbo (that stuff is DARK!), some Lev Grossman (TERRIBLE STAY AWAY – dude is an amazing writer but absolutely crap at storytelling and character development), some Carl Sagan (my imaginary boyfriend), much Dostoevsky and Bradbury (my two literary husbands), and will next be venturing into a biography on the late, and utterly devastatingly brilliant Alan Turning.

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Like so many things in this bonkers world of ours – I cannot wait.

And I leave you all with this little ditty:

SEPTEMBER

sept is an English word for a division of a family, especially of a Scottish or Irish. The word may derive from the Latin saeptum, meaning “enclosure” or “fold”

Ember: a small piece of burning or glowing coal or wood in a dying fire.

ERGO – September = fireplace.

And that has been your piece of monthly trivia.

Pun intended (of course.)

Going to the chapel, and we’re, going to get married

I’m not the best with surprises.

Almost six years ago to this day, on a deserted beach on Oahu’s north shore, my now husband Marc asked me to marry him.

Believe me when I say that I didn’t have the faintest clue that he was going to propose.

I mean, we had been together for four years, so it was inevitable that the topic would come up in conversation from time to time, and I knew that there was no one else in the world that I wanted to be with – I was just never one to think about it.

Growing up, I never day dreamed about weddings, sketched dresses, or play acted happily ever after.

I just hoped to heck that one day I would actually have a boyfriend, and all that practice kissing the back of my hand in the shower would amount to something.

So when this beautiful, kind, brilliant man, kneeled in front of me, and told me “I want to spend the rest of my life with you,” I briefly stood there shocked.

My mouth opening and closing like that of a stunned trout.

And then I burst into tears.

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I cried so hard and for so long that Marc actually had to ask me (quite nervously at that) if my tears were a good or bad thing.

“Good…thing…” I managed to croak, before the next wave of sobs took over.

It was a very good surprise.

Marc began to laugh, and eventually I did too (although it was through my tears), and then he took my hand and placed a ring on my finger.

My engagement band has three stones – one larger, framed by two smaller ones. He explained that he choose this ring because the two stones on the outside are meant to signify us, and the middle stone is our life that we will build together.

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You can imagine how quickly my tears dried up after hearing that. I’m pretty sure that I severely dehydrated myself standing there on the beach that night.

But it was magical.

The sun slowly setting, melting into the rich greens and blues of the sea; giant turtles watching us as they sunned themselves in the warmth of the white sand.

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I told him that I would love him until the end of the world.

When we arrived back at the house where we were staying, we surprised all of our friends by revealing the good news.

Then we phoned family back in Canada, before doing the thing that every good 21st century couple does – updating our profiles on facebook.

Arriving back in Canada, I remember Marc turning to me and saying, “So when shall we do this thing?”

I was still in such shock over the actual engagement, I hadn’t yet wrapped by head around the fact that that the end result of this whole thing would be, well, an actual wedding.

But as the days ticked by, I eventually came to grips – happy grips of course – with the idea that with engagement eventually comes a marriage, and I threw myself whole hog (for lack of a better expression) into the planning of our wedding.

We agreed that we didn’t want too long of an engagement so after a somewhat surprisingly stressful consultation period with both of our families, we locked down June 28th, 2008 as the day we would official tie the knot.

We would have the ceremony and reception at Minter Gardens, just outside of Harrison Hot Springs.

As a certified type A personality, who likes things to be just so, I found that once I engaged myself in planning mode – no pun intended – it was terrifically hard to think of anything else.

Everywhere I went, I was thinking about food, and invitations, about bouquets and buffets. I became slightly obsessed with getting the absolute nicest possible things, for the fairest price possible.

I remember standing in Ikea in front of an entire shelfing unit of glass bowls, agonizing over whether or not they were too expensive for our center pieces. I then did the exact same thing at Superstore, before driving back to Ikea, and then back to Superstore, where I eventually purchased the bowls.

But more importantly, I wanted our wedding to be an absolutely joyous, fun, and exciting day – for not only Marc and I, but for everyone involved.

I wanted all of our guests to feel like those sea turtles on that beach in Hawaii – witnessing, but also taking part in something wonderful, kind, and magical. (And most likely watching me cry my eyes out the entire time.)

By the time the big day rolled around, I had planned every little thing, down to the minutest of details.

Everything was under control. Everything was going to be perfect. There were going to be no surprises.

The day before, Marc drove out to Langley, where he would stay over with his best friend Matt, while I drove out to Harrison that afternoon, with my my two sisters, long-time best friend, my sister’s partner, and my mother.

In our hotel suite, we ate sushi and drank diet coke. My sisters gave themselves pedicures in the bathroom, and I practiced putting in my contact lenses.

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That night I slept, but the butterflies in my stomach and the persistent buzz of a malfunctioning air conditioner ensured that I slept little.

The morning of the wedding broke absolutely beautiful. It was to be a hot, sundrenched day, perfect for a garden ceremony and dinner.

The first person to arrive was our photographer, my soon to be sister in-law Vanessa.

“Getting here was crazy!” She exclaimed. “There’s this crazy burnt-out semi-truck taking up space on the number 1! Traffic was moving so slow, I didn’t think I was going to make it on time!”

A burnt out semi-truck?

I immediately phoned the woman who was coming to do my hair and makeup. My sisters twittered in the background, telling me that I had nothing to worry about.

“Don’t worry Vanessa,” said the voice on the other end of the line. “We’re on our way. We’ll be a little late, but we’re almost there.”

For some reason I truly believed that as long as my hair and make-up got done, everything was going to be okay.

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And everything was okay, until around twelve o’clock, when I began to get more phone calls.

First, from my friend Jake, who was supposed to be one of our ushers.

“Yeah…I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but the highway is completely backed up. We’re stuck just outside of Langley and we haven’t moved in a long while so…”

I told him not to worry. Guests would be able to find a way to get to their seats. I just hoped that he would be one of those people sitting in a seat.

He told me he hoped that too.

Next, Kristy, my bridesmaid’s parents phoned. Same message.

Then Marc’s sister and brother in-law.

“I don’t know what’s happening but…”

Phone call after phone call. From friends, relatives.

My father.

I still get a sharp pang of guilt when I remember that phone call because a tiny voice inside my head immediately shouted out: “BUT HE’S THE ONE WHO HAS OUR CAKE!”

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We tried to push back the ceremony as far as we could, but in the end we had to start. Our justice of the peace had another wedding, and there was another ceremony happening after ours.

Out of 140 guests, we were missing 40.

This was not in the original plan. This was a HUGE surprise to me.

As I walked through the gardens, up to our beautiful ceremony site, I tried to hold back my tears.

Was this actually going to happen? We were actually going to let this happen?

As we convened at the start of the pathway that would lead us to our ceremony site, and right as a fresh wave of tears was about to crash over me, my older sister Kate took my hand, looked straight in my eyes and said: “How much do you love Marc?”

“With…with all of my heart,” I answered.

“Then that is all you need to know” she said. “Today will be perfect.”

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Right at that moment, the bagpiper began to play, and she and Marc’s groomsmen locked arms and began to walk together. I watched as the next pairing did the same, and then the next.

And then it was time for me. Little old me, walking as I had actually mean to walk, alone, approaching the man I was meant to marry.

After making it to the front of the aisle, I caught out of the corner of my eye, our bagpiper absolutely hoofing it out of the gardens, eager as he was to make it to his next gig. I’ve never seen a man move so fast in a kilt.

Which made me laugh, albeit through my tears. Just like on that beach in Hawaii.

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In the end, we redid our vows at the beginning of our reception for all of those who couldn’t make it to the ceremony. And the most amazing thing was, no one complained, or remained sad about missing out on the start of the day.

The only thing anyone said to us was how much they loved the day, how much they loved us, and how much fun they had celebrating our marriage with us.

Which in the end, was the best surprise I could hope for.

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