So, what do you do when you can't travel? You bring the travelling to you!
Okay, that was clearer in my brain. Let me explain.
While I haven't managed to get away this year I have had a bevy of social outings, whether it be people from far away coming to me, or me sending people off to new adventures around the world. The kind of work I do means that this time of year is full of goodbyes (and one day, 'welcome back!'s, but for now, mostly goodbyes). I've sent friends off to India and Russia, old coworkers to Brazil and Washington and will see off another good friend to Saskatchewan before the year is through. I'd be lying if all these goodbye parties didn't make me feel a little bit lonely and a tiny bit sad, but happily, most of those feelings are countered by a sense of excitement for these people and the knowledge that, for most of my close pals at least, our paths will certainly cross again. The friend who went to Russia, C, started this job with me and we've become very close over the last few years. I took her leaving hard and was feeling a bit sorry for myself once she left. I was delighted then, (and immensely lucky) to have two of my favourite people in the whole world come to town, my bestie (if she heard me use that term, she'd pinch me hard enough to bruise), Jax, and my dear S. The former came from Edmonton, the latter from Missouri, and they greatly contributed to fighting back the sense of melancholy that could easily have made its way into my heart these last few weeks. I'll talk about S in a later entry, but for now, let's focus on Jax (she likes it best that way ;) )
I hadn't seen Jax since Christmas 2011, which is the longest I think we've ever been apart. I love those easy-care friendships, the ones you can slip into like a flowered, faded muumuu even after years of separation. Having her around was heavenly - a friend with whom you enjoy an easy shorthand, a girl who is always down for a drink and a snack, a woman who makes your face hurt and your eyes tear with near-constant laughter. We had drinks at the cheap and divey bar around the corner, we went shopping (she bought me a large ceramic goat's head as a late housewarming present. 'Nuff said), we joked and talked and went to a dance party at a war museum. For real.
TB and I have been thinking a lot about how we'll cope when we leave this city. But in reality, what makes this place home has been leaving us in dribs and drabs. It sounds incredibly cheesy, but it's the people that really do make a place feel like home and our town in particular seems to be this ever-changing port, with people leaving and returning nearly constantly. Of course our families and some of our best friends are here, but seeing how other people have left and thrived and fallen right back in step upon their return makes us just a little less panicked about growing up and moving on. Even our parents did it, back in the day, and I'm at least as adventurous as my dad. Until then, we're happy to have Sparta be the port in a storm (not the sexy meaning), a little place to lay your head while you're stopping by, where there's always chips in the snack drawer and a small, demented pug to greet you with silent, suspicious barks upon your arrival.