Snowy Day Memories

It was quiet this morning when I woke up. And calm, very calm. I could feel Harvey’s warm little body at the end of the bed, nestled against my legs. He loves sleeping in as much as I do. I stretched and opened my eyes. The daylight peeking through the blinds hinted at another drab winter day. Time to rise, no shine permitted today though.

I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw when I stepped into the living room. Huge, incredibly fluffy snowflakes were swirling and twirling all around outside. The roads and rooftops had all been blanketed in crisp white snow. Watching it fall, fluttering to the ground in fat sticky flakes made me feel like I was inside a snow globe. It was beautiful, and about damn time.

snowy days

Our winter hasn’t been very magical at all this year. It’s been downright depressing actually. We’ve had barren, snowless grey days and bizarre temperature spikes, where it feels practically balmy one day then aggressively cold the next. We’ve had more rain than snow, and it’s been a bloody nuisance. I’d take snow over rain any day. It makes me so happy seeing actual snow, falling with purpose, taking off its coat to stay a while. My heart rejoiced watching the snow fall, unrelentingly, all morning long. There it is, there’s the winter I know and love. Winter is all about snow. I love the feeling of snow falling down all around me. Snowflakes sticking to my hair and coat. Tromping through the snow in thick clunky boots. Mischievously balling it up to toss at someone unsuspecting.

I remember winter stretching out forever when I was a kid. Long endlessly sunny and snowy days out in the burbs, my sisters and I laughing and playing with our neighbourhood friends. Building snow forts, making snow angels, having snowball fights, sledding down huge mountains of plowed snow in the library parking lot. Racing down the snow banks on our Krazy Karpets with reckless abandon. Being told to come in for a hot lunch, soup and grilled cheese, to warm us up. We’d come home, blasting through the front door like a pack of wild dogs, hungry and hyper from our morning adventures. Peeling ourselves out of our snowsuits, so impatient to be free of them. Boots, hats, mittens, socks, and scarves cast off and flung all over the foyer, Mom rounding up all those winter necessities and dispersing them throughout the house to dry over heating vents and radiators.

We’d scarf lunch down like we hadn’t eaten in days, recouping all the energy burned that morning. Stockpiling more energy, fuelling up, eager to get back outside again for more snowy fun. My imagination already a hundred miles ahead of itself, dreaming up an outlandish afternoon caper. That’s all you needed back then to be happy, a fresh snowfall, some pals, and your imagination.

I have fond memories of super special winter days when my dad would take us skating. He’d shovel off a sizeable patch of pond, over at the golf course, where nobody would bother us. My sisters and I had the whole pond to ourselves, around and around we’d go, skating until our legs were jelly. Skating until the sun started setting. Begging our dad for just five more minutes, please!

I remember a whole day spent sledding with my family, mom and dad, my sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins. Everyone was there. Again over at the golf course, at the back, off of the 16th or 17th hole I think. Where the snow was freshly fallen, completely untouched, not a track or footprint in it. Where nobody else would be, our secret sledding place. The hill was steep, so enormously steep. It was a long ride down and a difficult climb back up. Dad and the uncles would pull us kids back up the hill on the sleds when we whined about having to climb it, only to launch us back down it again once we reached the top. I watched with shock as my older sister went whizzing down the hill at an incredible speed, narrowly missing the trunk of a massive pine tree. A close call if ever there was one. I remember tripping up the hill, falling face first into it, getting the neckline of my coat full of snow. Being dusted off by my mom and sent back on my way. We all went back to my Oma and Opa’s house afterwards, to warm up by the wood stove and sip hot chocolate.

We still talk about that day at family get togethers. That perfect winter day following an enormous overnight snowfall. The sun was out and the air was crisp. The day primed for adventure. Everyones hearts overflowing with laughter and joy.

That’s the winter I know and love best, snowy and enchanting. Inviting endless possibility and glee, promising lots of lovely memories. I hope today that some lucky little kids got to have a day of perfect winter fun with their siblings and friends, like I got to plenty of times growing up.

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To Jocelyn

If we were the kind of people who made grand speeches and gave lavish toasts, then the following is what I would have prepared and read on Saturday night at your going away party:

Sometimes I have to pinch myself. To make sure I’m not dreaming. To make sure that these past eight years really happened. When I look back on all the years of our friendship, sometimes its just too unbelievable. I’m in awe of my luck, honestly. That I get to have you as a friend.

Magical, wonderful, incredible you.

joss

We first met at Laurier, in our freshman year. Living in the same residence, on the same floor, sort of across the hall from each other. Completely random. It was all by chance that we ended up where we were. Although, maybe not… I’m not sure.

Maybe it was chance. But maybe it was fate. That’s another very real possibility. Maybe it was divine intervention. Yeah, I like that. That makes the most sense to me. If anyone ever needed a divine intervention in their life at that time, it was me. I needed it real bad. And so it was that The Gods of Friendship intervened. They knew just what to do with that bold and vivacious city girl and the seemingly square small-town girl.

joss n smash

I had fun in high school, sure. But my first year at Laurier was when I really started living. And I learned how to from you.

You got me my first fake I.D. so we could get into bars. Because partying in the dorm with a quiet hour starting at 11:00pm got old fast. We needed some freedom. We needed to go to the bars! To get wasted. To cause trouble. To meet boys. Older, cooler boys than the ones back at the dorm.

And we had such fun!

spurs

We drank, we danced, we laughed. We lived. I never wanted that year to end.

Until I lived with you and Sara at 42… that shit was crazy fun! It was way more crazy fun than even my wild imagination unhinged would be able to dream up.

us three

We had real chemistry as roommates, the three of us. We just laughed all the friggen’ time!

We had the best parties. We had the wildest adventures. And we were always happy. Our house perpetually radiated an aura of hilarity. 42 was our dream house. From the sweet Rasta picnic table on the front lawn where we downed many a recreational beverage to the decadent gold curtains I’d hung on the living room window, our home was one of a kind. People knew that coming to our place meant having a good time.

Halloween:

halloween

Cinco de Mayo in December:

cinco de mayo

Pre-drinking on an otherwise boring Tuesday night:

predrink

Even just goofing around on a beautiful spring day. Hopscotch and blowing bubbles. Drawing chalk versions of ourselves.

hopscotch

Whatever it was we were doing, we were having fun. We were living the dream.

chalk us

But that wonderful time in our lives eventually came to an end too…

Graduation scared me. Graduation meant the end.

But it wasn’t. If anything, it brought us even closer together. We still got together regularly. Moving out of 42 wasn’t the apocalyptic nightmare I thought it would be. But you know me, I have a wild imagination and I tend to get carried away.

When the stars all align and the three of us do get together, I cherish it. My friendship with both you and Sara means everything to me. I’m so grateful that I have you for my friends.

I’m so happy for you right now, in this moment. I’m so happy that you met Harry.

joss and harry

He is just as hilarious and amazing as you are. How that’s even possible, I don’t know. Because you are incomparable to anyone I’ve ever met.

joss and harry again

And I’m happy that Harry shares your love of adventure and passion for living life to the fullest. You deserve that. You were meant for a lifetime of greatness, and I’m thankful that our friendship allows me a part in this great life of yours.

at the bar

Eight amazing years of friendship, so far, and you continue to inspire me. I think that what you’re doing, moving halfway around the world indefinitely, is courageous. And it’s so you! You would. You’re brave. You’re funny. You’re sweet. You’re unique. You’re all the things I’ve always aspired to be. You are a magnificent star, and you will excel at anything you choose to do in this life. Because you’re fearless, and you tackle every challenge you encounter head-on with your Joce-force!

joss sliding

playing twister

retro night

I’m really going to miss you. (At this point in the speech, I would pause and look meaningfully into your big sparkly blue eyes. The kind of look that only happens in movies, because its way too awkward in real life!)

And then I would say,

May the adventure you’re about to embark on bring you all the joy you seek to find and more. Wherever your travels take you, I wish you all the love and support my little heart can muster.

So, let’s all raise our mini regulation reds in honour of Harry and Joce, and their excellent adventure.

To Joce, to Harry, to Australia!

joss and harry 3

Cheers!

“Come Over, We’re Having a Decker”

We had plans last weekend. Big plans. Top secret plans.

There was a party at the vets club in Newmarket. A surprise 30th Wedding Anniversary party for two very special people. To call them “my buddy’s parents” is a passable description, but does not do them true justice. They’re so awesome. Gloria is so sweet and lovely. Glenn is hilarious and a remarkable judge of idiocy. He’s seen a lot of it from our crew over the years, so he’s a bona fide expert in the subject. They have a soft spot for their kids’ drunken friends. And if not for their deck I might never have fallen for D.

I met Hoben the summer of 2005, and we hit it off instantly. We bonded over a mutual adoration of John Belushi. We shared an enormous appetite for booze and antics. We got drunk, and we caused shit. We were always egging each other on. Who could be more outrageous? Who could get the most obliterated? It was fun. We were young, we were stupid, and it worked. We were and are great friends.

hoben

Hoben visiting my dorm, Sept. ’05

The following summer of 2006 we hung out all the time. I had just turned 19 in April, and Hoben would be turning 19 in June. We had to do something incredible to commemorate it. Or at least get really drunk. So we decided to put together a plan for the weekend. Hoben called me up on Friday afternoon, his birthday was tomorrow. We were going to hang out and plan something for Saturday. “Come over, we’ll have a decker”, he said. And by decker, he meant we’d be getting drunk on his deck all night. Sounded good to me, I didn’t have to work. I grabbed a 12 pack and went over.

It started out just us. And then people just kept coming over. The more the merrier, that’s how a decker works best. Someone would call Hoben, asking what was up that night. He’d say “Come over, we’re having a decker”, and they did. Some random 40-something neighbourhood dude named Steve even came over. Nobody knew who he was, he just popped his head over the fence and said we seemed like a fun bunch. He wanted to party and we didn’t have the heart to turn him away.

Hobs and I had been drinking since 2:00pm. But he had to leave to work his 5-9 shift at the bulk barn. So he left me and a couple of other buddies to keep the decker going in his absence. And we did.

By 10:00pm I was just the right amount of hammered. Hoben had come back from his shift, and had been in touch with more people. They were on their way over, some cool peeps that Hoben said I would dig. Three dudes opened the gate to the fence and strolled over to the deck. The first two walked over, cracked drinks and sat down. The third dude hung back a second to close the gate. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. I watched him close the gate and walk up to the deck. Casually, calmly. He was short, and a little stocky. He had a 26 of rye, he was here to party. He was dreamy, and he sat down next to me. I was too drunk to notice it then, but every stride he took across the deck was reeling me in. It was D, and I was powerless to stop myself from falling for him that night.

A little while later Hoben’s parents joined us. Hoben is basically a clone of his dad, so we loved Glenn instantly. He wasn’t shy about zinging us dumb kids, and slayed us with many well-timed one-liners throughout the night. And Gloria was the epitome of class. She was well-dressed and not a single hair on her perfectly coiffed head was out-of-place. She sat down gracefully while lighting a smoke. I loved her immediately too. She was welcoming and warm, bubbly and fun.

We were too effed up that night to stick to the plans we made for Hoben’s birthday the following night. We had this incredible idea for a toga party that never came to fruition. We just got drunk at our friend Curt’s house instead. But we’d never forget that very first decker, what an awesome night.

There were many more deckers to follow over the years. Deckers became the standard summer party for our crew. If someone had a deck and it was free, it didn’t take long to pack some coolers and haul them on over. They were always fun, but they were limited to summer.

one of many great summertime deckers, July '08

one of many great summertime deckers, July ’08

That is, until last weekend. D and I were reunited with all of the Hobens again for the first time in a couple of years for this party. Hoben’s little brother and sister were there too. And I’ve had plenty of fun times with them over the years! They can party just as hard as their big brother can. They were the evil geniuses behind this party for their parents. We were all buzzing with excitement, waiting at the hall for Glenn and Gloria to show up. And the blissfully wedded couple were completely surprised. They had no idea, no suspicion whatsoever that anything fishy was afoot. It was such an amazing thing that the Hoben kids did for their parents. Surprise!

There was a lot of love and happiness in the air for Glenn and Gloria’s anniversary. So many people came to share in their joy. All the memories of the fun times we had on that deck were coming to the surface each time D and I were introduced to another party-goer. “This is Smash and D, and they met on our deck almost seven years ago! And they’re still together,” Gloria proudly exclaimed with each introduction. We felt important, and we felt cherished. Our story was another legend of the Hoben deck.

Everyone partied and everyone had fun. When it was time for the bar to close down, there was this collective feeling amongst us all. A feeling that the party wasn’t over yet. It couldn’t be.

All the cheap drinks we’d imbibed had stirred up a longing for those simple summer nights. Nights spent on the deck, drinking and laughing. The weather was absurdly mild for a day in January. So why not? Why couldn’t we have a decker for old time’s sake? Glenn gave the official nod of approval. To the Hoben deck! And off we went in our respective cabs, racing back to the Hoben deck to keep the party rolling.

I set foot on the deck and was immediately transported back in time. I was 19 again. Working some shitty summer job that paid peanuts. Hanging out with my friends, just goofing around. My only care in the world if my beers were cold enough yet. Pure happiness.

Just enjoying the January decker with Ally and Shan

Just enjoying the January decker with Ally and Shan, January ’13

This decker will become the stuff of legends in time too. Remember guys? That time, after Glenn and Gloria’s anniversary party, we had a decker in January? Yeah, those were the days.

While sitting next to Gloria, I asked her if there was any secret to their marital bliss. She told me, “He makes me laugh every single day.”

Congratulations Glenn and Gloria! You’re an amazing couple and I will consider myself very lucky if D and I end up as happy as you two are in so many years.

Glenn and Gloria dancing to their wedding tune

Glenn and Gloria dancing to their wedding tune, January ’13.

This post is dedicated to another great couple, my Aunt Carrie and Uncle Tom. They graciously let us crash at their place on Saturday night, so we could go full blast at the party. They’re totally awesome party animals, and we always have a lot of fun when we’re hanging out with them. I have an amazingly terrible photo of them from when they first started dating posted on my fridge. I could post it here, but I’ll spare them the embarrassment. That photo hangs on my fridge to remind me to be awesome 24/7. And that the style in the 90’s really isn’t as chic as I remember it to be…