I did it, guys.
I finished my exams, I went to Buffalo for the hockey game, and now I’m dealing with the bittersweetness of packing up for the summer and leaving the place I’ve called home for the last 8 months, and saying goodbye to the people I’ve come to think of as family. I know that only good things are ahead of me, but there’s a strange feeling layered on top of all this happiness that is an interesting one to process.
By tomorrow, once I’ve got everything all packed into my car, I’ll be hitting the highway and driving from Waterloo all the way to Winnipeg, something I never thought I’d be doing. If we look back far enough, I never thought I’d be living in Waterloo. More recently, it was never on my radar of things to do simply because I’m a drowsy highway driver. I thought there would be someone with me to make this 24+ hour drive. Alas, I am alone, and I had to make this decision: I was to either hang around Southern Ontario for another week or so until one of my friends could drive with me, or I could hop in my car much earlier and make it home in time to celebrate my grandfather’s 86th birthday. I think I chose well.
I will be home, come Saturday.
My decision to take the plunge and drive solo was somewhat inspired by Jackie. She recently drove herself, a fellow self-proclaimed terrible highway driver, from Chicago to Los Angeles. My downfall is my drowsiness. No matter how alert I start out, or how much coffee/tea I’ve had, about an hour in, I get bored and want to nap. To hopefully avert this, I’ve got myself armed with 3 sweet audiobooks, and one is in Spanish no less. That will certainly keep my mind engaged.
Anyway, I want to say, Jackie, you inspire me. Because you did it, I believe I can too. This is no longer a hurdle or an obstacle, but a personal goal, something I want to do for myself to prove that I can.
Now… what I really want to talk about is the game on Monday. WHAT a game!
We showed up nice and early in Buffalo after our last exam, and we were armed with a giant Claude Noel head and several speech bubbles (my favourite being “More Buff, Less Buffalo), and of course, I was sporting my electric blue wig. Who knew that thing would be such a worthwhile investment when I bought it back in October!
As we were early, we parked ourselves right by the tunnel where the players come out for warm up. As we stood there, drinking our massive king can beers, we could hear the banging of hockey sticks and occasional shuffling around of what we knew to be professional hockey players, just feet away from us. I felt my heart pound, feeling their nearness, and I let myself fangirl all over the place when they finally came out. I was squealing, I was shrieking, I was giggling and saying “Oh my god” a lot. I regret nothing.
We went up to the glass and watched the players as they warmed up. Cody pointed out a mole on the back of one of the player’s necks. The players laughed, teased each other, some were completely straight-faced and in game mode, and others showed off their impeccable hockey flow. I soaked it all in. I truly haven’t felt that exhilarated in months, possibly years.
The only real downer of the night was when Claude Noel got confiscated. He was too big, apparently. I was only disappointed because all of our friends and family all over Canada had their eyes glued to their TVs watching for this giant head, and by association, us. Sorry to let you down, everybody…
It was the perfect way to end first year optometry. My friends humoured me by donning Jets tattoos all over their faces and putting on my Jets gear to be part of the group. There was also a great crew of Jets fans sitting in our section, and we got many a good “Go Jets go” cheer started. We got heckled by Buffalo fans (but they were much kinder than last time), and we had a couple of dance offs, to the entertainment of those around us. I even ran into an old friend from high school who now lives in Buffalo with her girlfriend. The Winnipeg connection is astounding, and it followed me all the way to Buffalo, 3 rows behind me. I don’t think I could feel any luckier, any prouder, any happier, to be from that place called Winnipeg.