Quick and easy

I stood in the produce section of the grocery store, trying to look like I was fully in charge of the mission I was on. The grocery list I had in my hand had been transcribed from an online recipe, and the basket of items I was carrying was starting to make me seriously regret I hadn’t grabbed a cart.

I looked through the salad section, you know, the pre-made ones for people who are too lazy to buy a head of lettuce and take the time to cut it up and stick it in that tiny rotating bowl that resembles a miniature washing machine for, say, Tinkerbell. My eyes were starting to glaze over. I don’t know if I feel like a Greek or caesar salad, and more importantly, if I’m grocery shopping for the entire week, how on earth am I supposed to know what I’ll want to eat in three days?

Other shoppers were now moving around me like I was a permanent fixture. Yet, as I looked around, I noticed the same glazed eye look in a few other people, and they all seemed to be my age….or younger.

Ah. There it was. I was fortunate enough to grow up during a time where fast and convenient food was available to me 24/7. Have to work late? I’ll grab a burger and bring it back to the office. Don’t feel like cooking tonight? I’ll manage to get off Instagram for the two minutes it takes to order a pizza online. Drank a little too much on a night out with friends? I’ll graciously buy the cab driver his own fries if he takes me through a drive thru at 1:30 in the morning.

Even the food in the grocery store is becoming fast food. Right in front of me, was a container of chopped red peppers. The tag read “Great for stir fry!” and it cost a ridiculous four times the amount of simply buying a red pepper and venturing into the scary part of your house where all the appliances are to find that thing with a sharp steal blade and cut it up yourself.

I lugged my now exceptionally heavy basket over to the under enthused cashier. As he rang my items though with the same amount of excitement as someone watching paint dry, I saw the number on the screen grow larger and larger.

“That’ll be $73.86”

Sweet guacamole!! I could get 50 cheeseburgers for that price! I pulled out my debit card and tapped it as quickly as possibly, hoping that if I kept my eyes closed, the money would somehow stay in my account.

As I drove home with my whopping three bags of groceries, I thought about the differences of cooking between generations. People used to take time when they cooked. It wasn’t just to feed yourself, it was an event, and it ended with family sitting down at a table, with fresh, homemade food, talking about how their day was. It wasn’t just about the food you were eating, it was the bonding that occurred when you broke bread with those you cherished most. It’s something that seems to be occurring less and less these days in our ultra rushed, eat fast-food on the go lifestyles.

“I’d like to get back to that”, I said out loud, as I dialled my Mom’s cellphone number on bluetooth.

“Hey Miss”

“Hey, I’m just going through the drive thru at McDonald’s, you want anything?”

Alberta

Writing down your thoughts, especially the ones you rarely share out loud with others, has a certain vulnerability to it. All of a sudden people have a window into your mind, something to peer through. They can understand your thought process, how you interpret the world, what makes you tick and what makes you smile.

Writing has been, and I imagine always will be, a medium in which I communicate best. It allows me to convey my experiences and all of the feelings that arise from them, whether those experiences are good, bad, or regrettably, boring.

But sometimes, as this summer has demonstrated, the bad experiences overrule the good ones, and I am left staring at the keyboard, consumed with the guilt of knowing that I shouldn’t feel so down over such petty things.

Alberta fixed that. Driving into the mountains reminded me of how small I am, and that whatever problems I thought I had were minuscule in comparison to what others are going through. I struggled through the first week, as one does when they are working through the odd emotions of shame and confusion that come along with feeling sad when you’re not quite sure what you’re sad about.

Relief came in week two, when outings with friends and the warm reminder of my old life in Alberta left me feeling relaxed and more like myself.

After a day surrounded by mountains, I was happily driving along a stretch of highway, making my way back to Lethbridge. As I normally do on short road trips, I was speaking to a friend on bluetooth, catching up on things during the past week. It was dusk, and I was glad I had made it through the mountains before the sun set.

As my friend recounted a story, he was cut off mid sentence by the sound of a loud bang and what I would later find out was a full minute of screaming. The pleasant drive with the picture perfect backdrop in my rearview mirror came to a prompt stop when my car crossed paths with a deer, sending him into my windshield and over my car.

The car was stopped, but my hyperventilating (I know, I know, how dramatic) was in full swing.

“DIANE! DIANE!” ¬†Scott was still on the phone. “Are you ok? What happened? Are you bleeding?”

I looked down. There was glass everywhere. My arms immediately started to burn, and there was blood where most of the glass had hit me. I started to speak, and felt a loud crunch between my teeth, spitting out glass which had found it’s way in during impact.

Luckily, and I’m quite grateful for this, Scott just happens to be a paramedic. He asked me all the important questions, and then told me to hang up and call 911.

After blubbering to the operator, I threw my four ways on. No one had stopped, and vehicles were whizzing past me at 100 kilometres an hour. I knew someone was fairly close behind me when the deer tried to leap over my car, and I had a sad moment for humankind when I realized they had simply kept driving.

As I sat there waiting for the ambulance, assessing the situation for what would be a good 20 minutes since I was aways from town, I began to calm down. I kept looking at the smashed windshield, grateful that the deer hadn’t made his way in. After determining there would just be scrapes and bruises, I clearly remember my second thought:

“Getting this all taken care of is going to be such a hassle.”

For a moment at least, I was thankful to be alive, followed by being more concerned with the headache of dealing with getting my car fixed, and not being able to get back to Winnipeg this week .

My God, had I learned nothing?

Perhaps the unexpected extended stay near the mountains will do me some good.

 

Runaway

I tapped my fingers along the outer edge of the steering wheel. It was six in the morning, and I had about twelve more hours of highway laid out in front of me.

Last week, on a whim, I had decided the best course of action, or rather, the only course of action I could take to keep my sanity, would be the comfort of my second home. Somewhere in between the summer months, stress had started to build. Now normally, and especially during the past year, I would roll with the punches; but there was something about these blows over the last few weeks, maybe in the way they were delivered, maybe because they were from different parts of my life, that left me feeling drained.

Ever the dramatic, it’s hard for me not to wear my emotions on my sleeve. Hiding things isn’t exactly my forte, and I take my greatest comfort in talking things out with others when something is bothering me.

But the pressure kept building, and when an opportunity arose to go back to Alberta for a while, I didn’t hesitate to pack whatever summer clothes I could find and head out west. So there I found myself, music blaring, coffee in hand, cruising along the highway with the sun rising in my rearview mirror.

This morning I woke up in my old bed, my dog staring intently at me, waiting to be walked, and experienced a sense of relief I hadn’t felt in ages. I made coffee in my old kitchen, and I walked around my old neighbourhood, a path I had tread a thousand times. I visited old friends, and I relished in the moment as I watched my dog bound through the grass, eagerly fetching a toy.

I take comfort in the familiar. And the everyday life which I admittingly took for granted only years before was now giving me a sense of peace I had been seeking for months.

While it’s always best to face your problems head on, sometimes, if you know it’ll only be for a little bit, it’s more than okay, to run away.