I look forward to spending a couple of weekends a year at my sister’s place… no husband, no kids… just my big sis and I. It’s rather revitalizing.
My sister is a calm, reasonable sort who understands how to relax. I do not. I feel it is a necessary part of my evolution to train at the feet of the master.
This particular weekend I decided to come a day early, even though she would have to work on the Friday. It would be fun I thought… sleep in, maybe get a little writing done, then run a few errands as we were hosting a cocktail party on the Saturday.
Although I didn’t sleep in (my internal alarm clock is far too well trained for that) I did get a little yoga in, undisturbed for a change, before heading out on my chores. I was taking her obscenely smelly poodle for a bath, picking up a sod roller and driving out to the country to a local cheese maker for the next day’s hors d’oeuvre.
I am from a very large and bustling city. My sister lives in a very small and quiet one. I’ve known the town for many, many years. I lived in it until I was 12, but I have never before been so aware of the calming effect it has.
Everyone seems to drive the speed limit. They merge politely, smiling and waving as they do so. Is it possible that they really all know one another? Not a single person honked at me when I pulled over to the side of the road to consult the directions, or even when I made a sudden lane change when I spotted my destination. I laughed aloud when I got parking RIGHT IN THE FRONT ROW! My spot was one of MANY! No kidding!
The girls who worked at the dog groomers chatted politely with me, laughing and speaking with great familiarity as though I were a regular customer. I was almost finding it difficult to affect an exit strategy.
The man at the rental shop spoke kindly and explained everything before I even had a chance to ask the questions. I wondered briefly if he thought me simple, so gentle was his speech. He arranged for one of the staff to place the sod roller in the back of my car. The man who did so worried about whether it might damage the back of the seat. What sort of peculiar place was this I wondered.
The drive through the country on the way back from the cheese market was nothing short of idyllic. I snaked along the old number 2 highway on the shores of the St. Lawrence River, my speed varying by between 15 KMH below the speed limit to probably just at the limit. I swerved off onto the gravel shoulder on more than one occasion as I gazed dreamily at the brilliant sun beams bouncing off the river.
I realized after several kilometers of this that I had a string of cars behind me, patiently tolerating my rather bizarre driving style. No one honked, tailgated nor sped past me at any point… it was at least a half hour drive! I decided that they must all be just as blissed out as I on this perfect fall day.
I arrived a few minutes late at the school where my sister teaches, hoping that she wouldn’t be cross at having to wait. I spotted her across the schoolyard chatting amiably with a handful of students. They all looked up at the same time and waved at me, bounding through the parking lot to say hi. I’ve never met any of her students, but they greeted me as though I belonged.
My sister insisted that we stop at a gas station on the way home so that she could put gas in my tank as I had done all the running around that day. As she hopped out I saw her face break into a broad smile.
“Hey Bob! How are you? Will I see you next week at the Firemen’s Fundraiser?”
“Sure will Sher! It’s going to be a great time!”
They chatted happily for a few moments while pumping gas, then she slid back into the passenger seat.
“Friend of yours?” I asked.
“Nope not really, just the mayor.”
Sigh. I’m so relaxed. Nothing like a four hour drive through a rainstorm on the 401 to cure me of that little problem.
Please don’t forget to drop into www.lifestyleandstrength and check out my twice weekly column… you can find me under the “Lighter Side”