Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Looking Back

Still at the Outlaw Inn
Kalispell, MT

I wondered if there is some kind of metaphor about going backwards in order to move forward, and perhaps, sometimes, you really do need to go back into your past and ponder the reality of past events. It's easy to get caught up into the emotion while you're in it, and it is only after some time that you can look back and realize things like others' actions weren't about you, that you have some (if not all) accountability, that things were actually happening for the better, or it's just time to get over it. Regardless of the situation, it usually comes down to the latter option. And not to dismiss what ever pent up feelings of hurt and betrayal we may feel, there does come a point when we not only have to forgive our perpetrators, but ourselves.

I am not one to preach about religion, but I will caveat that over the years, I've been drawn more and more to a sense of spirituality. I mean, when it comes down to severe moments of pain, don't we pray to some kind of God for mercy? Or even during moments of extreme pleasure, how often have we or our partners screamed some declaration to God?

Kidding aside, I've found there is a power to prayer whether it's to some greater power or a promise or intention to ourselves. So this said, I share a Buddhist prayer I was taught a couple of years ago that's helped me (and several of my clients) get over many of the difficult events, people and obstacles in life, especially caused by ourselves, so we could move forward into our journeys, without the extra baggage of emotional pain we have a tendency to carry around.

Buddhist Forgiveness Prayer

If I have harmed anyone, in any way,
either knowingly or unknowingly,
I ask for forgiveness.

If anyone has harmed me in any way,
either knowingly or unknowingly,
I forgive them.

And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive,
I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself,
judge or be unkind to myself,
negate, doubt or belittle myself,
I forgive myself for that.

Sometimes you have to go backwards in order to move forward

Outlaw Inn
Kalispell, MT

It felt very strange to drive west from Canmore to Banff. Not only was I backtracking, but I felt like I was going the wrong direction. Most people think of going west for new direction, new start. I, however am going east. Not "back East," but more like "forward East." But once I got to Banff, I felt a strange sense of calm. It's a cute village, more extensive than I thought it would be. What is it about ski-town villages that bring so much charm. Doesn't matter which country.

I didn't spend much time there. Just had breakfast at this cute cafe, outside in the cold crisp air and warmed by the newly cleared sun. Got to plan my day thanks to free wifi and decided to go to the hot springs up the hill and go up Sulphur Mountain. I wish I had done it the other way around. I was rather underwhelmed by the hot springs. I mean, it was nice to be in warm water, but I didn't quite feel the healing powers they say hot springs are supposed to bring.

They say hot springs help cure various ailments and I wondered if it would help heal my broken heart. I stepped in with that intention, hung out and even swam in the pool a bit I didn't like the heat of the water in my face, however. Overall, underwhelming. Physically, my neck still hurt, so not sure what the point was of the springs.

Afterwards, I decided to ride the gondola up the Banff Mountain and then hike up Sulphur Mountain. It felt strange going in my own gondola, without all the groups and families and couples going together. Just me and luckily my iPod, so I had such a wonderful soundtrack for my ride and my hike. I was disappointed to find out I could have saved the $30 and hiked up, but I didn't want to spend that much time anyway.

What was I thinking just wearing my fliip flops? I guess I was just so focused on the hot springs and I didn't realize how much mroe there was to do up top. I simply thought it was a simple ride, oooh and ahhhh and then come down. It ended up being a bit like Grouse Mountain which offered so much more than just nice views. I hesitated about the walk to the other summit. It seemed so much further and higher. There was a sign about wearing proper footwear and a picture of a hiking boot and then of a person falling. Not exactly encouraging for a gal still dripping from the hot springs. I kept hearing, "I have everything I need," and I really could do it. That happened with this path in Uxmal which was supposed to be a metaphor for life, wearing what I thought were the wrong shoes, but I still did it. And, with going up the summit, I still did it. And I was neither cold nor uncomfortable.

Leaving Banff, I decided it was time to head back to the US and my goal was to get as far south down Montana as possible. It was about 2pm and if I were to resume my easternly direction, I would have hit Calgary around rush hour and then headed south for the border. If my experience the night before of the standstill Calgary traffic were any indication of what I would have to deal with, then I thought it'd be better to keep going west and then take the alternative highway through Radium Hot Springs.

I debated strongly about making a stop there. It seemed like such a large town to celebrate the natural resource. What would happen if I were to go twice in one day? But I was so underwhelmed with the first time, would the second be any different? I decided to move on.

The border was a step up from a gas station at an abandoned ghost town. There were 3 car lanes available, but barely any sign of life. When the red light turned green and I pulled in next to the stand, the lady questioned my citizenship. I suppose I didn't exactly fit the typical Montanan profile. But I handed her my US passport. Every answer I gave her led to more questions. I suppose I do have a puzzling story that could only arouse suspicion.

Where do you live? - Washington, DC
(? why does the car have Washington state license plates)

Do you have any tobacco or alcohol? - No! (my one fib)

Where is the car from? - Seattle, I just moved to DC and I'm driving it over

If you're going east, why on earth are you coming from Canada? - I love Vancouver and I decided to check out Banff
(This led to a thorough inspection of the vehicle.)

How long were you in Canada? - 3 days (I had to think about it for a bit, since I really didn't have much concept of time. Hence, arousing even more suspicion.)

What were you doing in Vancouver? - Pride weekend (She didn't seem to like my answer, not sure whether it was because she didn't know what "Pride" meant -- this is rural Montana after all -- or because she thought she'd have to let some queer into the states.)

Why are you going this way? - I've already been to Eastern Washington and I'm not going wine tasting, so why not. It's my summer vacation. Oh, and I didn't want to go through Calgary during rush hour.

What kind of work do you do? - I work at a non-profit.

What kind of non-profit? - Philanthropy

What does that do? - We help fund charitable organizations
(At this point, she does catch me in my one fib. I did have a bottle of wine that I was bringing for my friends whom I would be staying with at Yellowstone. Thankfully, she ignored it)

What non-profit? - I tell her, she never heard of it, so I explain the history of the founders and tell her that I transferred from the Seattle office to the DC one.

How much cash do you have?

Why are you driving?

For how long?

. . . and the questions persisted, which luckily the physical evidence corroborated. And, it's not like anyone could make my story up. I have to admit, it was nice not having to worry about anything (except the wine). Had this been 10 years ago, my attitude would have been far different, especially with British Columbia's very liberal medicinal marijuana laws.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

For the Love of Granny

It's really hitting me that I'm taking Granny away from Seattle for good. She's been such a great car and the idea of letting her go was incredibly difficult. She's my first car, and we were meant to be together. Even now, through this cross-country drive, I believe we are still meant to be.

The back license plate cover says my alma matter, but the front says Kirkland Toyota. I'm sure, if anyone ever bothers to notice, it appears odd since she's a Volkswagen. I keep it on there for symbolic reasons, which remind me of how some things really are destined.

Living in San Francisco, I never felt the need to own a car. As soon as I knew I was moving to Seattle, looking for a car was an even bigger priority than looking for an apartment. For some reason, I had always wanted a Jetta. I generally always liked sedans (no, I'm not a sports car or minivan kind of gal), 4 doors, compact and practical. I liked Jettas specifically because I found Toyotas and Hondas too suburban and common, while the more luxury BMWs & Mercedes too materialistic. The first car I drove was an Audi, and it had so many problems, it was called an Ouchie. Jettas just seemed to provide a fun combination of unique style without the flash, and the skillful German engineering without the escalated price tag.

When it came time to buy my car, I had a tough decision about getting a Jetta or something more practical. I was moving to Seattle without a job and I wanted to be practical about this investment. I'd never actually owned a car before, let alone gone through the whole dealership negotiation, so I had to prepare myself. I had no need getting something brand new, so finding something 2-4 years old was just fine with me. I researched Jettas and Audis and their respective longevity. Keep in mind, I'd be moving out without a job, so I really had no idea how much I could really spend. It would just be based on my savings, and I decided it might be better to make the practical decision, and buy Toyota.

Most dealerships listed their available cars online so I could do my research and selection while from San Francisco. I saw a Jetta at this Toyota dealership and noticed their Corollas, too. A Corolla would be a more practical decision, both from a logistical and financial perspective, and they had one in black that met my basic requirements. I made an appointment one weekend when I was flying up to see it. I had my car loan set up with my credit union and was ready to purchase right then and there, barring some bad situation in my test-drive. Showed up that Saturday morning and it turned out the car had been sold the night before, to my disappointment and to the dealer with whom I'd been corresponding.

My boyfriend (now ex-husband) noticed the Jetta and pointed it out to me. It was the one I had originally seen online and opened me up to Toyotas instead. I thought it was too expensive, but he convinced me to test drive it anyway. "For shits and giggles," he nudged. As I drove it, the bright blue lights and perfect fit with my body just felt like Fate. I kept telling myself, "Don't fall in love. Don't fall in love," so I could contain my excitement from the dealer next to me. When we returned to the dealership, he asked me what I thought. I looked as nonchalant as I could and told him it was fine, but it's too bad it costed almost twice as much as the Toyota I was originally going to buy. He said it was because of all the bells and whistles, the heated seats, sun and moon roof, 6-cd stereo. If he had known that I actually dreamed of having heated seats but non-leather (which I didn't know was possible), which the Jetta had, the negotiations would not have gone as well. After about 3 hours, I got the Jetta for only $500 more than the Toyota's price. I named her Granny because she's epitomizes many of the qualities I'd like to be when I'm older: practical, just enough style, can fit in anywhere, and with all the bells and whistles.

As I was saying

That rainstorm was a "friendly" reminder that this city where I left my heart is also known as the rainiest city in North America. A fact simply proven yesterday.
That aside, I still love Vancouver. Top ten reasons why:
10. No high fructose corn syrup. Seriously, it makes a difference. Just taste the Heinz ketchup here.

9. Great public transportation.

8. Beautiful high-rise buildings, most of which are residential.

7. Pretty money.

6. If you see a well-dressed man, wondering if he's gay or European is futile.

5. It's safe. Far safer than the United States. Although to be fair, Seattle is pretty safe, too.

4. Hiking up Grouse Mountain.

3. Midnight Market, just like in Asia.

2. Hot dog vendors. There's Japadog, but even the regular vendors have outstanding dogs, grilled to perfection with a variety of delicious sauces.

1. Style. Everyone here has got style, even the elder ladies.
I admit, not the most clever or most thought out right now. Just want to get this done so I can go watch the parade and play on the beach.