It’s a quiet beautiful spot, overlooking the prairie with the Rocky Mountains off in the distance. The leaves have turned this rustic yellow and there’s that familiar chill in the wind…. winter is coming.I can hear the motorbikes rattle as they navigate the winding trails below. Like Mosquitos only on steroids. Dodging in and out, far away and yet it’s noise up front and centre.
There’s something new here on the cliff ledge. A cross in memory of another someone who passed away. I wonder what happened? I’ll have to ask around.
To the north of me is a field that once housed a military base. NAV Canada still has their tower here and is somehow connected to the random odd dome shaped buildings in the area. My friends mom said it was like a little town as she used to work here. I think it was razed in the 80’s sometime.
I come here when I’ve got a lot on my mind. When I need to stop thinking and just remember that the wind still blows. The sun still sets. It’s warmth still can be felt within the chill of the air. There is this peace in the quietness as I look at the world below. It’s a time I can lay away all the thoughts and noise of life and be still with my Creator. My Saviour.
What’s On the agenda for today?
Well, my daughter today informed me that the most perfect specimen of man aka boy, finally figured out who she is. “It doesn’t matter though” she told me, “dating is for idiots. I’m 12. Even if he was interested I’d tell him to take a hike. I got better things to do. But sure don’t mind if he likes me.” You would think this would settle me but in fact it concerns me more. Boys, especially the muscly sporty “fine specimen of a man” type, like girls who aren’t idiots around them and are somewhat intrigued by a girl that clearly can hold her own in skill and ability. Forget the fact that she is beautiful. I know, I know, every mother says that, but she is. And she’s funny. She’s a leader and not a follower. She’s girlie and yet very much a self proclaimed ungirlie girl aka tomboy. So hence, I exhale slightly, and cautiously give advice knowing she’s going to learn life the hard way. Just like her momma.
My only advice to her was not to fall for a pretty face and smooth talker. Challenge him. Make him show his character because too many fall for a pretty face and shallow character……but my inside self was doing the happy dance about her none interest-interest.
The sun will set and rise again and tomorrow she will be 15 and the next she will be 20. Life goes on. She will live. Meanwhile I think about investing in barrels of wine…or, maybe spiced rum!!!
I am happy to say so far this year has been a much better atmosphere for her and the kids at school. Then again she’s in sport academy. She’s not too happy they put her with the grade 8’s and with mostly boys as she doesn’t know anyone, but this will change. Being the only grade 7 student in her class puts her out of her comfort zone and forces her to face her anxiety. I think it was a good choice. Either way, she’s challenged so that’s a bonus.
Ethan has been applying for new jobs. He got the taste of money and found out that it doesn’t grow on trees so now he’s on a mission. He leaves at the end of the month for a week long hunting trip with my mom and dad, as well as my brother and his three boys.
When my ex offered him a choice between a trip to Disneyland or a trip to Mexico he picked Mexico. Then when he offered him the choice of a trip to Mexico or a hunting trip with my dad, hands down he choose the hunting trip. A freezing his ass off in the cold, sleeping in a wall tent, horse packing, mountain tundra, campfire, hard-working, hunting trip. I’m glad he’s going with my brother and his cousins as they look up to Ethan. This will give them memories that will last a lifetime.
Today was my first day back in GP. Yup that’s right. I’m travelling between two provinces again. Last year I think I’ve put on 45,000 km. My busy season has come to an end which is ok considering most of my hours required at work were spent this summer working overtime. So I have time to be with my kids and enjoy my time with them.
Sometimes I wonder what am I doing? But really when I look at it, it’s no different that a man who works a camp job two weeks in and out. Or a month in/out overseas in the oil and gas industry. Who am I to complain? I’ve been blessed. Grande Prairie has been my home since 2000, Alberta since 1994 and Fraser Lake is my childhood home town with the comfort of my home people and the beauty of British Columbia. It really is the best of both worlds.
Mahdi is heavy on my mind, as per usual.
Sometimes I think about the craziness and strange but amazing events that have unfolded over the past few years. It has been a gradual development of what started as a friendship between two people who knew that there is more to life than our current surroundings – yet on opposing spectrums for sure.
I’ve come to appreciate how much I respect and value someone who knows their priorities. Who has experienced more than their selfish desires and spoiled life styles. Someone who has seen hard times and knows the heartbreak. Sometime though, I’m not going to lie, there are moments when I think it would be so much easier if…….full in the blank.
Over the course of six years I have condensed my belongings to that fits into a Costco 8×10-ish shed plus some. I have thrown away, donated, sold more stuff than I care to remember. If I haven’t used it in a year I don’t need it.
There are moments when I find myself hesitating and I think….wait. Wait. Just hold on a second. I start getting emotionally attached to my stuff and I am fooled into thinking that my value and my worth are in my belongings….
And then I simply toss it into a pile and get rid of it and walk away. It’s just stuff.
It has taken time, a lot of time , and I’m a work in progress. God and his truth is revealed in the moments when life become like a rock tumbler, refining my stubborn character through hardship and struggle. My eyes see a little further. My heart sinks a little deeper and I move towards a closer understanding of who I am, my identity in Christ, my understanding of what fear is, what is important and what are the sacrifices I must do to strive towards them. Many a night I have sob at a closing chapter in my life. I’m sure many more lie in wait and I’m ok with that.
Necessary endings for new beginnings.
Mahdi has always been the listener. That’s how it all started, I made a joke and his english needed some refining so it was mostly him listening as I would ask question after question after question. It wasn’t the first time I had to hold a conversation with a man who didn’t know how to talk to girls. Most men, no matter what country don’t – if they do, then they are either a salesman or the gay best friend type. Well, Mahdi was definitely not either. He would prop his head up on his overextending thumb, resting on his chin. His beard would be sometimes perfectly manicured, atypical to many Middle Eastern men selling hair products in the mall or other times it lay mangled and desperate when he was at the base or out on a mission. Itchy and long. It took sometime to get used to his features as North American men don’t normally have that much facial hair. Side note: In India I would watch him blow dry his hair and beard, he would take longer in getting ready than the time it would take for both my daughter and I put together.
The man loves make up, too – on women. The women over there have this insane obsession with make up and being perfect. I understand the need to stand out and save your beauty for your husband as education and independence are not high on the availability scale. His mom would be on the phone asking me to curl my hair because they wanted to see blonde hair curled. A very few select times I would do it. I would roll my eyes and act like it was the biggest pain-in-the-ass thing to do. Who curls their hair everyday? I’m going hiking or playing with the kids or going to the gym. But I would do it and they would ooooh and ahhhhh. I was so weird.
I remember one time in India, the day I had a mental break down over the heat, we were at the Akshardham temple. Even Rose my Armenian friend was hot and she had been living in India for 5 years. I found out when I got home that apparently it was uncharacteristically hot because people were dying from the heat – it made the news. I was desperate to cool down so in the middle of the food court where I was sitting under the pathetic shade of a tree, I took my water bottle and dumped it over my head to wet my hair and neck. Mahdi laughed at me and said “there’s the Canadian white chick” – with his heavy accent.
I think my greatest moment of appreciation of his culture was the moment I realized he had more of a flare for the bold home decor than I do. I mean, one of the best things about being single and I can decorate my home as girlie as I want it to be and I have no one to say no. I found out that you can buy this glitter paint and I was seriously considering painting a small wall in my bathroom with it. But I restrained myself mostly because of the cost. Only this scenario is flipped. I find myself trying to reign him in. One day this is the picture he had sent when I had said I’m looking to decorate my bedroom:
I burst out laughing “woooooahhhhh there, hold the phone – absolutely not. That is FAR too pink.” He said ok maybe but it was beautiful and he thought it was what women love – extremely girlie, bold colours which is also cultural, and excessive primping, because that’s what his mom and sister’s love. To get ready for a wedding and dress like what we would consider a bridesmaid. Excessive frills and sequins and bold bright concentrated colours…. with ALOT of Gold. Not diamonds. Gold. You should see the dresses they bought me as a gift from India. I’m pretty sure you could light up the room as a dancing disco ball. I’m really not sure I could ever wear it out in Canadian public, maybe some latino dance hall, but when I look at them my eyes hurt. One I actually love, I’m just going to get it tailored to fit proper and not look like some mennonite gone wild in Vegas.
He would pause and ask “I need more explain – “hold the phone?”
Everything is so over the top, and I love it. It’s weird for sure, as most men in North America couldn’t care less about this stuff, unless it just died and was served on their plate, didn’t have too many holes in the armpit or goes BANG, they don’t care – I should add and has breast. They just know that a woman magically shows up looking good with her own style. This all holds true in Mahdi’s life as well, except the over enthusiasm with girls, but what do you expect when there’s no or very limited interaction with them. “Men” he said, “dream of their wedding and meeting their wife and making her their princess.” I would liken it to a little girls Cinderella obsession, only grown men. Naturally so, given the current circumstances.
“Jennel, I love that your wearing lip gloss. You should try the stuff that goes on darker – lipstick??? and maybe a few deeper shades pink. Not red though, my mom says when you have white skin and blonde hair it makes a woman look, you know – like a whore.” Choke, choke….. out I spit my drink of water “MAHDI, (chuckling in shock) just STOP. There is so much wrong with what you said. Please don’t EVER say that to a girl. It’s disrespectful.”
“Oh, I didn’t know.”
Still laughing. Still choking. I’m now used to. His translations are very literal, mix in some culture differences, innocent of intensions and add in North American feministic sensitivity and BOOM –
It’s freaking hilarious!!!! Because I know his intentions. Others might not be so good. I can only speak for Mahdi.
The thing is, I know he’s just trying to support me in how he knows a woman in being a woman, from his mom I get it. As my daughter puts it, “Mom, he’s like having a gay best friend….only he’s not gay…… AND he’s a soldier” as she walks away with this confused grin paired with the I-don’t-know shrug as if to motion “it makes no sense.”
I guess guess my point would be that all men are teddy bears on the inside it doesn’t matter what country or what job they have. It’s a matter of willingness and effort. Sometimes the burliest of men have the biggest heart because they’ve seen what could be, or in Mahdi’s case, what is.
Then there were the moments that dig deep inside me.
There was one time he phoned me in the middle of my night. I could hear his voice annoyed and yet concerned. He would always validate his emotions with “I’m not afraid to die, everyone dies.” I would add “but not having the opportunity to live is another story.” He agreed. We both knew this subject well. Life and what it means to have it.
It was a cold night. The mission took longer than expected, they didn’t pack enough food and supplies to stay warm and dry. They were tired and exhausted. And then complications happened. I could hear the “complications” in the back ground. I had no experience of the reality of what was happening but I knew it was my turn to simply listen. That was the best support I could give him in the moment. He always told me just enough for me to know the situation but never enough for me to know the situation. He didn’t want me to worry, or he would wait till after the fact to tell me. There were a few exceptions like this night. We had ended up losing contact, I would call back and get that automated recording, only in Farsi, that I presume she was saying “The number you have reached was unavailable.” I’m pretty sure that 10 minute call cost me $80.
I’d pay it again.
After I had lost contact, I immediately searched the internet for news headlines in the area that were in English – yet not find any headlines on American sites. Or British. Or Indian. Or Canadian. Nothing. I was about a day later when I told him what I had found trying to find out what happened he answered with:
“NEVER trust reading the news. It’s all propaganda and lies. It’s all a game”
You know the kind where 95% of the story is true but the 5% that’s left out is actually major information which changes the whole story. How valuable that 5% is, and yet rarely sought after. Seems to be a global epidemic.
So it was then that I chose to trust him and wait for the phone call when he got back and do as he had asked. Pray and leave it in God’s hands.
Mahdi has since left the military and has supported himself with his business -a bike shop. However, the economy is down and terrorism has a way of putting a damper on life let alone the street bike business. So he works hard and waits for opportunity to come his way. He really is a man of strength and family
Sometimes someone comes into your world and shakes your reality. It’s impact changes you. It’s navigating how to use the life lesson’s is the tricky part.
I can not change the unchangeable and I have no wish to. So instead, I help. It helps me step outside of my world, out of my rut I can find myself in, and appreciate what I have. I slow down for my kids. I take time for myself. I get involved. I say my piece and I learn in the process.
I’m watching the sun finally set and my thoughts become still as I reflect. I’m thinking about my children and navigating through the chaos that is our world raising them. I think about the cost and what I’ve given up so that we make it work. I think about what others give up to make it work like my mom and dad and even my ex. He really has been supportive as an ex husband and a father to my kids, It has effected his life. I can not ignore this. To do so would be selfish.
I think about Mahdi. Whose given up everything and willing to give up more for he knows there’s life outside of his reality. Just as he has impacted my life, I have impacted his.
And yet its complicated. Much more complicated than this post can ever suggest. Not just geographic and culturally, but spiritually.
So I sit here and I stare off in the distance and be still. The sun sets. The world’s not so heavy. Peace settles in as I give it all to God, laying those heavy on my heart to rest for the day. Asking for the courage and the wisdom in what to do next.
Tomorrow is another day.