Monday, March 3, 2014
March Meeting Fantasy
There wasn't a moment to spare. It was going to take some scrambling and quick thinking but she was determined to complete the mission.
She was fuelled by the thrill and spontaneity of it all. She imagined each of their faces as the couriers delivered their envelopes one by one. She had not told a soul. The moment to share had presented itself this morning like an epiphany to her. This was the sort of thing people like Oprah or Richard Branson or Bill Gates probably did all the time. Not her. It had taken her a few days to let it all sink in, but now she had a plan. It was always the way she had envisioned it. Crazy. Spontaneous. Wildly fun.
Her peeps in Canada were freezing in the most brutal winter in years. A Polar Vortex they kept calling it. How had she been lucky enough to miss it? Not just a week of it. Or a fortnight. The whole bloody thing. Someone had been smiling down on her in the winter of 2014 and she wanted to share her good fortune.
She watched as the email trail began. There was one woman down. Her much loved friend Rae was down for the count with a bad flu. She could not host the monthly Book Club meeting. Who could take over? Who could rescue the March meeting? The replies were coming one by one. Negative. Nope. Sorry, no can do. It was looking grim. The girls needed a place to gather the first Thursday of every month. It was like a religion to them. It was their monthly fix of connection and female bonding and wine...yes, don't forget the wine. It had to happen.
Think. Think. Think, thought Deb, reminding herself of a scene from a long forgotten Winnie the Pooh movie her precious Emma had watched as a small child. It should have hit her instantly, just as the winning lottery numbers did when she read them on her computer screen a few days earlier. It had taken her a few days to let the news settle in her brain. She was rich. Richer than rich. It was one of Australia's largest jackpots, and it was hers now.
She got in her new car, a modest little Mitsubishi Lancer and as she backed out the driveway, she realized she could drive any kind of car she wanted now. Perhaps she would donate this one to someone needy. It was like new. Less than 3000 kms. She shook her head to banish that thought for now and headed directly to the travel agent. For the entire five minute drive to town her head was full of imaginings. She saw each beloved member of her book club in her mind as they opened their couriered envelope.
First Jan. The front door closed to the cold while she busied herself in her open kitchen whipping up some warm and nutritious comfort food for the evening meal. Wiping her hands on a tea towel while she walked to the door to see who was there. A blast of Arctic air entering her cozy warm entryway while she quickly signed for her letter. She could barely see the delivery guy's face as he had a scarf wrapped around the lower half. With her lyrical voice she wished him luck as he mumbled something and carefully navigated the steps down and back to his truck. Closing the door behind him, she wondered why Qantas Airlines would be delivering something. Her hands needed another wipe and she needed her reading glasses. There they are, she said aloud as she retrieved them from the small bookcase near the kitchen island. She had been using them earlier to look for a recipe in one of her many culinary volumes. She slipped the paperwork out of the packet and as she took it in, she let out a hoot, picked up her cell phone and called Bruce. You won't believe this she said into the phone......
Carla was next on the delivery route. She was sitting at her desk, a throw around her shoulders, writing. She was always writing these days it seemed. She was finding it difficult to keep warm. Even with the heat cranked up, -30 was in evidence. This drafty old house she thought to herself. The loud gong of the doorbell startled her and she took her throw with her, knowing that as soon as she opened the door, the icy air would hit her hard. She invited the UPS man inside the foyer so she could sign for her letter. He stepped inside, apologized for bringing in the snow and she exchanged some empathetic small talk about his job and how the cold must be making his life miserable these days and then let him out and quickly shut the door behind him taking note of the snow and ice build up on the steps and making a mental note to deal with it in the morning. It was late afternoon and it would be dark shortly. She was not expecting anyone else today. It could wait. Her glasses had fogged coming back in from the cold entry and it took a moment to see the Qantas logo. Hmmm, she thought. This is odd. She carefully peeled the plastic envelope open and as the content slowly revealed itself to her, a wide smile spread across her face. She could almost feel the warm tropical air as she headed back to her desk and started to make arrangements with her family. I am soooo out of here she thought, and she started to call Sylvia to share her news.
The UPS guy, meanwhile was getting back in his truck and although the next stop read Strath Ave., he decided to jump ahead to the Sunnylea address instead as he had noticed a bit of a fender bender at the corner of Prince Edward and King Georges and he wanted to avoid it. He reached for the next one in the pile. Kim. His back tires skidded on the ice as he pulled away and cut up to Bloor St. It took him what seemed forever to make a left onto Bloor, but finally he was away and turning right up Prince Edward.
He stopped in front, double parked as the snow banks made it almost impossible to find a spot. Kim had been sitting on the sofa in the living room window, trying to finish up this month's book and was finding it hard to focus as her daughter was practicing for her piano lesson the next day. The dog started barking as the UPS guy approached with her mail. Shush. Shush. Between the dog and the tedious scales on the piano, she thought, after she answered the door, she was going to retreat to another room to read. Normally she might have engaged in some sort of witty banter with the delivery man, but it was just too damn cold and she signed and dispatched him hurriedly. Brrrrr, she shivered as she came back in and stood by the fireplace where a few embers were still glowing. As she started to read what was inside, she laughed out loud! That crazy Deb. Then she said, well, looks like we won't have to sell cookies after all as her daughter looked at her with a "what the hell are you talking about mom?" look. I have to pack she told her...I'm heading down under for Thursday's book club meeting! As she headed upstairs her daughter followed her, a million and one questions firing at her all the way....
The house with the red door by the looks of it he thought. It was getting dusky, but the red door still stood out. There were no cars in the drive, so he took advantage and pulled in. The walk had not been shoveled. He suspected there was no one home. He rang the bell and waited. He rang it again. He started to fill out a pick up post-it note when the door opened. Susan? No, said the sweet young voice. I am her daughter. Can you sign for her? Sure. Of course. She scribbled her signature on the screen and took the envelope from him. She closed the door behind her and looked at it. It was stiff from the cold and looked important. She walked over to her phone and checked the world clock. Mom was in Europe. Still up I bet, she thought and called her right away. Should I open it, she asked when Susan asked her what it was. Of course, go ahead, tell me what it says.
She read it out slowly. "I am hosting this Thursday. A copy of your e-ticket is enclosed. A limo pick up time will follow. Pack light. It's hot. Don't worry if you have not read the book. See you Thursday morning in Brisbane. Can't wait! Love, Deb xo"
Well. Looks like I will have to postpone Paris, she replied. Call your brothers and tell them I won't be home this weekend after all. Sorry honey, I know you were looking forward to all of us being at your skating competition Saturday, but just this once, I am going to have to miss it. Let's schedule something else when I get back. Don't worry mom, go for it! We will be fine. As she hung up the phone she paused to think how lucky she was to have such great kids. Besides, she could get a ton of work done on the long flight.....
As the UPS guy looked at his schedule and realized he had 4 more stops to make before quitting time, his annoyance was hastily dismissed in his mind when he repeated what he always did at times like this. "At least I am not Tom Hanks in Castaway." He would say that three times in a row like a little mantra. It always placated him. He headed to Bloor West Village.
Donna saw him coming up her steps. She was running around like a mad woman looking for her other glove that must have dropped on her way in a few moments earlier. She had exactly 10 minutes to grab some of the boys things and head back out if she was going to catch the beginning of her eldest son's game. She could not remember a time when she was not in motion like this. She cherished her vacations for this very reason. She allowed her mind to drift to Baja, one of their favourite getaways. She made a mental note to look on line later at some possible tropical destinations for their next holiday. She needed one. She wondered what was being delivered. Her husband called just as she opened the door, telling her his last appointment was turning into a dental emergency and he would meet her at the game albeit somewhat late and she was half listening to him as she was signing for the envelope. She watched with dismay as snow blew all over the floor as they stood there. Closing the door and mouthing good bye as she was still talking to her husband, she grabbed a kitchen towel and threw it on the snow that was melting on the hardwood floor. Grrrrrr....winter!
She turned her focus to the envelope. Qantas Airlines. Huh? It took her a moment to absorb the note. No. Really? OMG! She is serious. She wasn't sure if she could pull it off. Sooo much to reschedule. Then she realized, this was a once in a lifetime event...and thought of the time she missed the Vegas trip and made up her mind right then and there. Hell Yeah! I'm going she said to the dog, the only one listening, his head tilted and his ears perked up. She looked down at her precious pup and said, How would you like some Kangaroo Jerky in a half joking manner before she realized she meant it...
After knocking and ringing on Rae's door three times, he turned to leave when the door opened just a crack and a woman in a thick terry bathrobe peeked out the small crack of an opening, a tissue held to her nose and said in a hoarse voice, wait, don't go, I am home. He looked back over his shoulder, still protected under the porch roof from the snow and wind and he could see clearly she was not feeling well. Maybe whatever is in the envelope will make her feel better he thought...or worse, you never know with mail. He was glad he was wearing gloves as she handed the stylus back to him after signing. He had a thing about germs. She apologized between coughs and closed the door and retreated to her sofa. There was a fire burning in the hearth and she had been trying to read but was dozing more than reading.
This flu had really knocked her on her ass. She felt bad she had to cancel hosting book club this month, but there was no way she was up to the task. The delivery had aroused her curiosity despite how lousy she felt. She read the note. She read it again. NO BLOODY WAY! Both of her boys were home and heard her shout from their rooms. Mom? You OK? Oh, I am MORE than OK she tried to shout but her swollen throat prevented her from reaching the volume she intended. Come on down here she said as loudly as she could. Bring that bottle of Vitamin C with you. They both descended the stairs, her youngest holding the vitamin bottle. He handed it to her and said, Wassup Mum? She ignored the annoying term and said, I need to get well really quick, as she shook 4 tablets out of the bottle and downed them with the water she had been sipping on. I am going to Australia on Wednesday. The boys looked at each other. Clearly their mother was hallucinating. Yeah, right mom, and we are going to Timbuktu and they chuckled between themselves.
She folded the note into a paper airplane and flew it over to them as they headed into the kitchen looking for a snack. She watched as they read it together and then she said, Who is laughing now, hehe? There was a PS. on her note that read: Even if you are still not feeling well, get on the damn plane and sleep it off girlfriend! She suddenly felt better. Funny that.
The next envelope read - Dr. Deb. Once again, he had to double park. The snow plows had failed the city miserably this winter. But, it really was hard to keep up, so he did not get too angry. Dr. Deb answered the door herself. The kids were all out of the house. One at dance class, one at a friends and the other at school still. Her husband was out too. It was a rare moment alone in her house in fact. Unless you count the pet snake. But he was generally pretty quiet. She motioned for him to step inside as the wind had picked up and the snow was swirling around in a little cloud around him on the porch. A sculpture on the mantel caught his eye as he was a bit of a hobbyist sculptor himself and he made a comment. Nice piece he said and he glanced toward it. It rarely went unnoticed and it was special to her and she thanked him and wondered if she should share the story of how she acquired it with him, but decided she wanted to relish the short time she had left before everyone started to arrive home and left it at that.
You a medical doctor? he inquired. No, she said, but did not enlighten him. She smiled widely and said good night and drive safe and he left wondering about the doctor lady with the cool sculpture, concocting his own version of her life in his mind as he drove off. Dr. Deb walked down the narrow hallway to the kitchen where there was brighter light and curiously opened the envelope. Smiling, she picked up her phone and called her office. Her assistant was still there working late. I am afraid we are going to have to make some changes to the meeting schedules this week. And see if you can get a deadline extension on that report. Her assistant was somewhat flustered as this was highly unusual, and asked her what was going on.
Knowing the time difference, she replied, my book club meeting just got moved up to Wednesday and it is going to be a particularly lengthy meeting, not to mention, in a very distant location. As incredible as this may seem, I am going to Australia for a few days. She was still holding the note as she talked on the phone and skipped down to her PS. It read, BTW Dr. Deb, I have a bike here in my garage with your name written on it...miles of countryside to explore at your leisure - get down here girl!
Her assistant laughed and said, Well, you best get packing matey! Good on ya! She hung up the phone and looked out past the frosted panes and thought how lovely it would be to feel warm again.
He had left the last one labelled Caroline for his final delivery of the day as it was closest to The Queensway and his route back to the depot. He was slowing on her street to read the house numbers and noticed the car ahead of him pulling up and into the same house. If he was lucky, it would be her and he would make this quick. He stopped behind her and called out to her as she started to get out of her car. Caroline? She turned to look at him, the wind smacking her face bitterly. She held her hand up to shield her cheeks and said, yes? She walked toward him and he to her and they did a very quick exchange of signature and pleasantries in the cold and now dark light. The streetlight just enough lumination for them to see what they were doing. She did not read the envelope return address until she got inside and took off her boots and coat.
This bloody winter is exhausting me she thought to herself. I can't wait for St. Kitts. The familiar Qantas logo alerted her to something out of the ordinary right away. What could this be she wondered. She was still in the hallway and started walking toward the big round table in the kitchen where she tossed her purse on a chair and called out to the kids to see who was home. She got two replies, one male, one female and knowing everyone was home and safe and warm, she decided to make a cup of tea before opening the letter. Her hands were still cold from the exchange out front.
She threw a tea bag in a mug while the kettle boiled and decided to open it straight away. Her face lit up as she realized what was about to happen and she shouted for the kids to come down to share her plans. As she told them she was going to Australia for this weeks book club, they whinged a bit about how unfair it was that they could not go, but the reality was, they were very happy for her and after the year she had been through, knew it was a wonderful surprise and much deserved gift. Her biggest challenge would be getting the time off from teaching, but surely they would not expect her to pass up such an opportunity. She would make it work. Life is short and she knew that all too well.
In the meantime, another UPS driver was delivering an envelope further west on a different route. She pulled up in front of the Markland Woods address wondering if she should pull into the wide driveway, but opted to stay on the street so she could make the loop around the circle easier when leaving. She walked up the sidewalk to the front door and rang the bell and waited for Lenore to answer the door. Coming!, she heard a female voice shout from the kitchen. Lenore had been busy preparing dinner and the music was so loud it was a miracle she heard the bell at all. She had taken to dancing in her kitchen lately in between slicing and dicing.
She turned down the volume and headed to the foyer. She opened the door and the UPS gal, reluctant to step inside, finally succumbed as Lenore insisted she come in out of the cold. Oh! What could this be she said out loud. The UPS gal sort of shrugged her shoulders and gave Lenore a half smile. Don't know she said. But I like your butterflies. She nodded toward the beautiful butterflies suspended in glass on the wall. Oh, those! Yes, I love them too! She signed the screen and thanked her, noticing her name on her badge on her coat. Thank you Judy! Be careful out there. Good night.
Lenore knew as soon as she saw the logo. She shrieked with glee! She opened it and did a cursory reading, then grabbed her phone and FB messaged Deb in Australia. You are INSANE! Deb messaged back. Yup! Lenore messaged back. See you Thursday! She went directly to her computer and started changing her flight so she could stop in Vancouver on the way home to see her daughter. The boys would have to fend for themselves for a few days. She was not missing this meeting!
The final envelope was a bit more of a challenge. But not impossible. They were docked outside of Charleston, N.C. Deb had done some sleuthing to find out exactly where and as Trish sat sipping her morning latte on the deck, she noticed a delivery man heading toward their sailboat. She wondered if he was heading to their slip. He was pausing at each boat to read the names and slip numbers. He stopped at theirs. You Trish? he inquired. She stood up and held her hand above her brow to stop the sun from her eyes. Yes, I am Trish. Delivery for you then. He walked over to the side of the boat as it bobbed gently against the rubber bumpers and handed her an envelope. He then passed her the stylus to sign as he held the little device steady for her.
He walked away down the dock and she giggled as he almost lost his balance. No sea legs she thought. She went back to her cup and sat down, putting her feet up on the seat, her legs outstretched. Relaxed. Life was good. Her captain had gone into town for some supplies and she was alone. She had just finished Skyping with the kids and they were both OK. She was really enjoying Charleston and all the great adventures to other ports on the coast. As she started to read the note, a smile broke out, then more of a giggle. Well, she thought, never a dull moment. She opened her FB app and messaged Deb. I am totally in! See you Thursday!
When Deb got the call from UPS telling her all of the envelopes had been delivered, she let out a yelp and a WOO HOO so loud she wondered if the neighbours might think something was wrong.
She could hardly wait to greet all her old mates at the airport.
OK ladies...back to reality. Hope it warms up soon for you. Miss you all.