Teen Anticipation

“Are you excited?” I asked as we backed out of the driveway.

“I’m terrified,” he replied, rubbing his palms on his thighs.

“You’re awesome either way,” I told him, “and you’ll know tonight.”

“I just want it so bad!” he said, looking over at me. The fluorescent logo on his t-shirt glowed in the morning sun. I merged onto the main road, hoping for traffic slow downs on the way so I could enjoy his company for a few extra minutes.

I looked over at Jack and remembered how, three years earlier, he hadn’t wanted to join the marching band. Now it wasn’t something he would consider not doing. The boy that always says, “let’s just forget it and go home” when things don’t go well is the one who gets up an hour early on the days he has band.

“Aaaahhh! I just wanna know!” he says. Then something catches his eye in oncoming traffic. “Ooo, check out that black Ferrari,” he says, grateful to the break in anxiety.

“Nice,” I reply, and wink at him. Every day we’re on the lookout for super cars.

He switches the radio to the iPod and turns on our favourite driving song. We’re only one song away from school now.

“If I make it into drumline I still get a new drum pad right?”

“Of course. You need something better to practice on.”

He brightens up.

“I’m full of knots!” he says, fidgeting in his seat.

I drop him off and I notice he has a hop in his step. Halfway to the door he stops and turns and runs back to the car with his sunglasses in hand. “I forgot,” he says and hands them to me.

“See you later! I loooove you!” I tease him after seeing that there is no one around to hear me.

On the drive home I put our song on repeat even though I feel like I’m cheating on him in some way. I’m full of nerves too. He’s worked hard but we both know it’s not a given that he gets a drum. I say a prayer of gratitude for what this nervous anticipation is teaching him about patience and perseverance and I thank God for bringing us here. I also pray for patience and for wisdom so I can comfort him if things don’t work out.

The Puker

Jacob was born on the eve of spring
The clouds were dripping and the birds did sing

It didn’t take long for Mum to see
He was the world’s greatest baby

But then came May and he started to puke
The first time Dad thought, “ah it’s a fluke”

But again and again he puked all over
The closet, the fridge, and their dog Rover

But it was the furnace vent that surprised Mum most
He bent over, tossed the grate, and lost his toast

The heat turned on and the house smelled of upchuck
Jake might be the greatest, but he sure was bad luck!

Just when they thought that the worst was over
He puked in the car and they had to pull over

This kid was a machine, he just couldn’t stop
They put a plug in him but out it did pop

Other parents would say, “Oh my kid is so hard”
But Jake’s parents always played the puke card

Someday Jake will marry and have a nice kid
And if he’s lucky, he will come with a lid

Casey’s Birthday Allergy: A Story for Parents, Kids, and Everyone Else

Casey burst through the door, threw her bag on the floor, stomped up the stairs, and slammed her bedroom door.

“I hate birthdays!” she yelled.

Mum and Dad looked at each other and sighed. Dad went up and knocked on Casey’s door.

“I’m not changing my mind! No more birthdays!”

Dad opened the door and sat down on Casey’s bed.

“Tell me what happened,” he said in his serious Dad voice.

“I had to sit outside! They all played some dumb balloon game and I had to sit outside on the front step like a bad dog!” Tears streamed down Casey’s face as she looked down at her Superboy action figure in her hands.

“It’s like at Jason’s when all the kids did funny voices with the balloons, and Ashley’s birthday when they made elastic bracelets. I hate everyone!”

“It’s a bum deal,” Dad said.

“And I never get cake! Ever!” Casey sobbed into Dad’s shoulder.

“I hate allergies! And I hate birthdays!” Dad rubbed Casey’s back while her tears dropped down onto Superboy’s cape.

When they went downstairs, Mum made Casey a super sundae, their special treat after birthday parties. “It’s not fair,” Casey sniffed as she took a spoonful of fudge, “all the other kids get to do everything and I get nothing.”

“It’s no fun having allergies,” Mum told her, “but remember, other kid’s parties are for their special day, and it’s important that we honour their choices.”

“I don’t care, I’m not going to anymore stupid birthdays.”

The next day at school, Casey sat down in her desk and crossed her arms. She glared at Daniel when he handed her an envelope, and she stuffed it in her backpack without opening it. At recess, she heard him talking about his party and how they were going swimming in the backyard and how the cake was going to be amazing. She had to try so hard not to cry that she thought her eyes were on fire.

“I can’t wait until you come to my birthday, Casey,” Daniel told her at lunch, “it’s going to be amazing. It’s going to have Superboy everything.”

“Yeah, sure,” Casey replied.

“Hey, wanna come over after school?” Daniel asked.

“I can’t. I have to go home.” Casey turned away. She ran home from school and threw the envelope in the garbage before going to her room. She looked out her window and saw Daniel in his yard playing in the sprinkler. Casey turned away and sat on her bed.

The next morning, Casey saw the invitation sitting beside her bowl of cereal. She gulped.

“I know Daniel really wants you at his party,” Mum said.

“I’m not going.” Casey left without eating.

When Casey got home from school, Mum was on the phone. She made herself a snack and went to her room. Mum was excited when she got off the phone but she wouldn’t tell Casey anything about the call. The invitation sat on the kitchen table until the day of the party. Every time Daniel asked Casey about it, she just shrugged. On the afternoon of the party, Casey sat in her room looking out the window and watching all the kids arrive at Daniel’s house. She imagined the backyard filled with balloons up to the sky and everyone pushing her away.

Mum called from downstairs, “Casey, come down please.”

Casey wiped her cheeks and sulked down the stairs.

“I need to go out for a couple hours, can you go help Dad in the shed?”

“Fine.”

Dad was in his greasy shirt and big work gloves that Casey loved to wear. She liked to pretend she was Superboy, fixed the supership in preparation for the next mission.

“I need your help. I’ve borrowed all these from Daniel’s Dad and I need to take them back.”

Casey looked at the tools. “Can’t you go by yourself? Can’t we go somewhere else?”

But Dad said no. They walked across the street and into Daniel’s yard. Casey saw Daniel and all the kids from class.

“Casey!” they all yelled. Casey turned red like a beet and hid her face in her shirt. Daniel took her hand and led her inside.

“I didn’t know if you’d come!”

He showed her that Mum had made a cake safe from all the bad stuff. Casey saw her Mum in the kitchen, and Mum gave her a wink.

“And there are no balloons here!” Daniel shouted and showed her the whole house and yard, balloon free.

“Balloons are for babies anyway,” he told her.

“I’ll be right back,” she told Daniel and ran home. She came back in her bathing suit and she was carrying a bag, which she handed to Daniel.

“This is for you.”

He opened the bag, and inside was Casey’s favourite Superboy action figure that Daniel had wanted since forever.

“You… are you sure?” Daniel asked, staring at Superboy.

“Yes, anything for my best friend. Happy birthday.”

the twinges of having teens

I wasn’t expecting to be emotional when my oldest got a job. He already had a driver’s license and he’d been away several times without us (I was emotional then too). He had looked for a job for a couple of months, sending out more than a dozen resumes, and then when he got the job I was quite excited for him. It’s such a big life moment! It was when he got the call from his boss with the starting date that I suddenly wanted to cry. I don’t even know why! I don’t know if it was just an emotional week or the clutter in the house from the renovations but I wanted to cry for his first two days. It was probably good that he worked five days straight for his training.

There was this ridiculous part of me that felt like he was leaving. Like he’d chosen the job over me. It’s so stupid, and I knew that it was stupid of me to feel that way, so I worked to get over it and not express that nonsense to him. It’s not like I really feel that way, it’s just some bizarre perversion of feelings that I had on his first two days. It’s so much fun to hear about his day and get to hear all his stories and I am so thrilled that he is enjoying it. He’s now on his fourth day and I’m not emotional about it anymore, although it does feel like the clock is ticking to the day when they’ll both be gone. And that’s okay too. [Insert deep breath here]

The whole point of parenting is to raise your kids to be successful, independent adults. Keeping them dependent is not the goal at all, yet sometimes my emotions make me want to keep him here forever. Maybe my emotions were pride too, I’m so very proud of him and how cool he is. I was not like that at all when I was a teenager. He’s so mature and awesome.

I think the emotional upheaval will be the norm for a while. Everything they do without me gives me that little twinge and I remember the days when I got to carry them on my hip and help them with everything. It’s so great for them though, to be out on their own without me, doing things that they want to do. I listen to parents of little ones and they are so busy with all the little things that come up every day that they can’t wait for their babies to be independent. I want to tell them it will come far too fast and they will long for these baby days but I don’t say anything. I remember hearing that when I had little ones and I hated it because it seemed so hard at the time. And I didn’t believe it until it happened to me. So now I enjoy the old memories and create new, different ones. There are great and wonderful things about each stage of growing up, including our growing as parents.

6721090219819-0027

Fiction: The End of Snow

Jos rested her back against the cold wall and looked outside at the grey concrete surrounding her new home. Spirals of wire sat atop the outer walls like evil candy canes, reminding her where she was. She realized she felt too comfortable here after only two days. When she arrived, she was told that it took most women weeks or even months to adjust, and some never did, but she had not had any problems adjusting. Maybe it was because she had been born here nineteen and a half years ago. Maybe it was because she felt freer inside than she ever had on the outside. There were rules here, and a schedule, and no one else’s baby to look after. There were rules at home too, sure, but they were always changing and she could never keep track of what was right and what was wrong so she would do something really wrong because at least then she knew where she stood.

The knot in her shoulder was smaller and the pain in her jaw from years of grinding and clenching was less than she was accustomed. She stood against the window in her dull sandpaper pajamas and rolled her shoulders back over and over again while dropping her ear to her shoulder back and forth like she was warming up for a boxing match. She resisted the temptation to jump up and down. The tension was gone. She let her mouth hang open as she stretched her jaw without pain. And then she remembered.

“No!” Jos’s mother yelled. She was yelling at her so hard Jos knew her mother would have a migraine later that she’d treat with whatever alcohol was available. All Jos had done was ask to go to a movie with her friend Anne that lived down the street and had two parents and a little brother and a little white dog that always ran up to her and cuddled at her feet.

“He’s not my baby! I never asked for him!” Jos yelled back, slamming the door to her room so hard her bulletin board flew down to the floor and her favourite photo of Chris the awesome Evans got creased. “Arrrrrrgh!” she yelled, and buried her face in her futon. It’s not her problem that it’s the pest’s birthday. Her nose and cheeks felt hot and angry as tears dripped down into the foam. She lifted her head and snorted back her tears. “I hate you!” she yelled towards the door, then climbed out her bedroom window, onto the fire escape, and jumped down the last few feet to the concrete below.

Breakfast at 0750 was the same for everyone every day. If you missed it, you didn’t eat and then you’d be in trouble for not eating and you’d have to go see the counselor and convince them that you’re not suicidal or going on a hunger strike to protest something pointless like the lack of vegetarian options. Jos stood in line on the morning of day three behind an older petite woman. “Hi,” she muttered, not wanting to start a conversation but not wanting to appear rude. The woman ignored her. Jos put the sickly yellow plastic tray down and pulled her long red hair back into a ponytail, wrapping an elastic around it. All she could get here were regular elastics; the kind office people liked to buy in fancy colours stretched into a ball that sat on their fancy wooden desk. The kind that hurt when pulled out of thick, curly hair. “Fine by me,” she whispered to herself. She knew enough people already.

On Halloween Jos had to take her five year old brother trick-or-treating and miss the school dance that Brian had asked her to go to with him. He had stood at the door of her math class and pulled her aside when she walked out.

“Hey, Jos, so, I was wondering, if, maybe, um, you would go to the dance with me?”

“Sure, why not?”

She shrugged as if it meant nothing but Jos had felt her cheeks get warm and rosy and her stomach got bumpy and she knew she was excited. She straightened out her sweater, pulling it down over her zebra print leggings in an effort to look smaller. She would have to find something to wear to the dance that didn’t make her look homeless.

“Great,” he smiled at her, “so, I’ll see you at lunch?”

“Yah, okay, see ya.”

When her Mom got home that night she told her about the dance the following Friday.

“No, Friday’s Halloween. You have to take Ben trick-or-treating. You already told him you would.”

“No, I’m going to the dance.”

“No, you’re taking your brother trick-or-treating.”

“Half-brother, and no, I’m not.”

“I’m not having this discussion with you.”

“Fine, you take him.”

“I have plans.”

“Change them. I’m going to the dance.”

“No, you’re not.”

“I’m not taking my stupid brother out for candy. You can buy him some yourself. He’s such a baby anyway.”

Ben had been watching the whole conversation from the doorway where he stood in his Olaf snowman costume holding sunglasses in his little hand. He ran away crying up to his room. Jos walked out the door, down the hall, and out the door that locked behind her. She sat on the cold concrete steps and felt her leggings get wet beneath her from the earlier rain. The next day at school she had to tell Brian that she couldn’t go. Black lines of mascara ran down her face as she told him. She knew how ugly she was.

“Oh that’s fine,” he said, oblivious to her crying, “I’d rather go with Andie anyway.”

He walked off and Jos saw him walk down to Andie’s locker, speak with her, and then embrace her as if they were already dating. Andie and her stupid locker covered in pictures of Adam Levine half-naked. As if perfect Andie would ever get a tattoo. She wiped off her cheeks and rubbed her hands on the sides of her skirt, pulling it down with the hope that it would somehow make her look less chubby.

Jos stabbed the half grapefruit on her plastic tray with the plastic knife she’d been given to eat it with. It bent and broke as it tried to push through the hard yellow rind. Half of the knife stuck in the grapefruit while the other half stayed in her hand, sharp and jagged. Another girl about her age, with short brown hair and glasses, sat down across the table. Jos looked up at her face. She reminded Jos of the smart girls at school that wear preppy clothes and had rich parents and got to drive their little Smurf cars but would whine about how they weren’t good enough to get into some crap school Jos had never heard of. She flipped her tray over onto the other girl’s breakfast and walked out.

The Christmas tree stood in the corner of Jos’s bedroom. She knew that normal people had theirs in a pretty stand, with a pretty blanket wrapped around the bottom. They would have ornaments and tinsel and presents too. But this tree was hers, pulled through the alley in four inches of snow three days after Christmas. It looked too alive to be left to die in the alley so Jos made it her own, dragging it up the steps and through the hallway, through the apartment and into her room. She propped it against the corner then heard knocking at the door. She opened it, leaving the chain on.

“What in the hell d’you think you’re doing missy?”

Jos looked back at the lady from down the hall.

“Get yurself out here and clean up the mess you made or I be telling your mudder.”

Jos stifled a laugh. Mrs. Greenback was not from the west and the way she talked always made Jos laugh. She and Anne made fun of her all the time, sitting on Anne’s deck with their legs dangling over the side.

“Whaz so funny?”

“Nothing, Mrs. Greenback, I’ll come out right away.”

Jos spent over an hour sweeping the needles out of the thin blue carpet in the hallway. Not that it helped. The carpet was so old and worn and covered in stains of dirt, food, puke, and God knows what else. She had just started sweeping the linoleum in the apartment when her mother came home. The opening of the door startled Jos and she turned quickly, swinging the broom handle and knocking over three of her mother’s Precious Moments figurines. She didn’t even look up at her mother, she just swept them up into the dustpan and went to her room.

“Doubt, Smithers, Anderson! Report to the kitchen at once!”

Jos got up, wondering who would have the name “Smithers,” and went to the kitchen. At least it was better than “Doubt.” Time for work duty. She stood at the metal sink. It was large enough to bathe an adult in and it reminded her of having to bathe stupid Ben every night. The water was hot enough to scald, Jos knew that, but here she was, forced to wash every dish with her bare hands. The burning was soothing in the pain it caused and she pretended to be outside lying on the beach, getting a sun burn.

It was Anne’s idea although no one believed it, especially Anne’s parents and Jos’s mother. Why would they? Anne lived in a nice house and had never done anything bad whereas Jos had already done two batches of community service for vandalism and shoplifting. She should have said no, she could have said no, but Anne really was her only friend and was leaving for college in the fall and it was their last chance to make memories. And it was New Year’s Eve. They plotted and planned for days, staying up late at Anne’s house pretending to be talking about college boys. Anne’s mother made them late-night snacks and when Jos stayed over, she got a full plate of breakfast cooked and cleaned up by someone else.

On the night of the deed, Jos wore her favourite black leggings and took a pair of her mother’s black boots from the closet. Anne was ready when she got there, sitting on her front porch like an old woman watching the neighbours.

“Ready?”

“Yes. Let’s do it. I have the jitters or something. Jos could see her hands fretting inside her mittens.”

“Are you sure you want to do it? If we get caught you won’t be going to college.”

“My Dad will get me out of anything. I just need to do something really bad to feel what it’s like. I need to feel what you feel.”

“The getting caught part is not fun.”

“We won’t get caught.”

The pair made their way down the street to the golf course parking lot where dozens of fancy, shiny cars lay waiting for them.

“Which one do you want?” Jos asked. Anne was only going to do this once so Jos figured she could chose. Plus, Anne was shaking standing there and the silver in her leggings was flicking light all over the parking lot. They needed to be quick.

“Uhhh, that one,” she replied, pointing with her red mitten at a two-seater rich car that matched her outfit.

The car was shiny silver and it twinkled like a rich person’s Christmas tree. She pulled the handle and was surprised that it opened.

“Rich people just assume no one will steal from them,” she said with disgust, although she was glad to not have to break in.

She rummaged around the car and the glove compartment and found a spare key in the owner’s manual. Another stupid mistake.

“It’s like they want us to take it,” she said and started the car. “Put your seatbelt on!” The plan was to have Anne drive just for the excitement but she was too nervous. Not that she had asked Jos to stop or anything.

They peeled out of the parking lot, Jos pretending that she was Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Anne pretending she was too cool to be excited. Jos sped down the street, changing gears like a race car driver with total confidence. She was the most excited she had ever been. They turned into the mall parking lot and did trick maneuvers spinning around and flipping from forward to reverse and back again. After several minutes, Jos drove Anne home. She watched Anne open the door and go inside but didn’t see her little dog run out the door and into the street. As Jos sped away she felt a bump under the wheel and reluctantly stopped the car. Anne ran out of her house screaming. “Snow! Snow!” And as she looked out into the street her bright rich face turned pale, the little dog barely visible against the snow covered street. Jos drove away. She had destroyed the only living thing to ever truly love her.

The prompt for this story came from Sarah Selecky’s Story is a State of Mind, the most awesome writing course online.

Writing 101: Music in our lives

Today’s Writing 101 Assignment is to free write about the three most important songs in your life. I couldn’t come up with just three but it reminded me a lot of music and growing up.

I can’t think about music without thinking about my family and growing up. My Mum always had music on when she was doing housework or cooking something delicious for us in the kitchen. Just writing this makes me want her banana bread. She would sing along and get most of the lyrics mixed up, which she says she did on purpose to entertain us. I remember her playing The Carpenters, Carole King, and Dionne Warwick. My Dad played music in the car. We drove frequently out to the coast, which was about a 13 hour car trip and we didn’t have iPods and DVD players in the car back then; we just listened to music. My Dad loved Elvis and The Kingston Trio, and most music from the 60s. It was awesome. I did not like Elvis at all and I often argued with my Dad about how the 80s remakes of Elvis songs were superior to the originals, but I loved The Kingston Trio. Their songs were so fun to sing along to, and we would all join in on the chorus (except for my grumpy younger brother who felt he was above it all). M.T.A. was my favourite of their songs because I loved the tune and I loved the story it told. Most music I listened to didn’t tell a story; it was whining about this or that or just a jumble of words put together, but not M.T.A. Here was a story about a guy that got stuck on the subway in Boston forever because he didn’t have enough money to pay. I couldn’t figure out as a child why his wife would bring him a sandwich and not bring him the money he needed to get off the train. It was a compelling story to me then, and now I find it to be a fun and creative story.

Even though my parents always had music playing, my older brother was the biggest music lover in the house. He had the smallest bedroom but he had the biggest stereo. He would listen to The Alan Parsons Project and Depeche Mode for hours while he read or did homework. I still know all the words to “The Eye in the Sky” even though I never played it myself. I shared his love for Depeche Mode and we even got to see them in concert together when we were in college. They had a song for every emotion. They would get me inspired with lyrics like, “Reach out, touch faith,” or help me pour out my sorrow with, “I want somebody to share.” I used to sit on the floor of my brother’s room and we would listen to their music and talk. Usually we talked about the music but sometimes the music was just the doorway into talking about more personal things. He never came to my room to listen to music; I don’t think he was too fond of Corey Hart or ABBA but maybe it was because he just had the better stereo. His stereo had auto-reverse and we were able to record songs off the radio without background noise which was pretty exciting at the time.

Now that my own kids are teenagers we have a lot of music that we enjoy together. We listen to Air Supply’s “Making Love out of Nothing at All” to remind us of one of our favourite movies, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. We listen to “I Believe” to remember going to the 2010 Olympic Games. And I play them a lot of my old favourites, like “Freedom” by WHAM! And Jason Donovan’s “Too Many Broken Hearts.” Weird Al is as beloved by my children as he has always been by me. For myself and my son that loves to write, Weird Al shows us that writing doesn’t have to be serious to be great. My son loves the same type of music as my brother so now they talk about music the way he and I used too. There is a commercial that says, “Cotton is the fabric of our lives,” but really I think that it’s music that is woven into our lives, and is ever present in our memories.

Writing 101: The setting of our first home

Today’s Writing 101 Challenge is to write about setting which is something I am not good at! Here is my attempt.

It should have been exciting to move into our first house but all I could think about was getting everything done. We still had to unload the truck, unpack the boxes, call the cable and phone companies, and get the builder to finish the plumbing. We might never be done. It wasn’t even lunch time but I was exhausted. My husband asked me to guide him as he backed the truck up to the garage so I hopped out and stood near the back of the truck. The driveway wasn’t even poured yet so I made my way through the muddy gravel. I looked around and it didn’t look like any of the other houses in our cul-de-sac were completed yet. There were construction trucks everywhere. I wondered when we would get our first flat tire.

Luckily for us it wasn’t raining, which was rare for the end of June. I signaled to my husband to back up, keeping an eye on the back of the truck and the garage door. The stupid garage door that the builder forced us to paint red. It stood out like a bloody canvas against the off-white house. I liked the red trim but a red garage door? It seemed ridiculous. He kept backing up until we both heard a crunching sound. What was it? I looked down: nothing. I looked up and saw the house crumpled above the garage door. I am a complete idiot. I never thought about the top of the truck. Now our brand new house was ruined and it was all my fault. My husband looked at me, probably wondering if I could be any dumber, but he just turned the truck off and hopped out. “We’ll get it fixed,” he said. There was work to be done so we opened the garage door and saw the empty space inside. At least the garage had a poured concrete floor. It looked like so much space but I knew we would fill it up quickly.

We started moving boxes into the entryway and kitchen. Everything looked so clean: the kitchen, the living room, the dining room. It was all empty, void of life and laughter. The linoleum was shining as it was hit with the morning sun. I loved those big windows that looked out past the edge of the city into the prairie. I looked forward to watching a thunderstorm from inside but not today; there could be no rain today. The dining room wasn’t really a dining room yet, just a space with linoleum floor and a chandelier. I didn’t really care about any of it outside of the kitchen. I loved the blue countertops and the maple cabinets. We chose them from the showhome and they were perfect. I looked at all the boxes and wished I could start cooking right away. The little family room looked so odd being empty; it was the only space on the main floor that was carpeted. Unless you count the stairs I guess; I had insisted on carpeted stairs. I had insisted on no triangular stairs either, ours turned at 90 degree angles because I figured I would fall if they curved. I sat down and started emptying boxes while my husband did the hard work and brought everything in to the house.

Twenty years later I still miss those maple cabinets and blue countertops. We would feed our baby in that dining room for the first time. I labored in that house. Our son peed all over that house. We laid him down on what would have been a fireplace (if we could have afforded it) and let him get some sun to eliminate his jaundice. My husband would build a big deck off the back that looked out over a weedy park and the back of Canadian Tire. I don’t miss that yard; the slope was immense and nothing would grow, it was so dry. I somehow miss the train though, even though it woke me in the middle of the night. There was something secure about having a train enter the city behind your house, seeing it come through each day. There was comfort in the routine and watching the cars. When we were sick and overwhelmed, it was good to see that life went on outside. Every memory of that house is related to our first baby because I was just pregnant when we moved in. I remember our huge master bedroom with a walk-in closet and big bathroom where I threw up every morning at 5:20 before I got ready for work. I remember the evening heat in our son’s west-facing bedroom. I remember when the crunched garage got fixed by an awesome superintendent who felt sorry for my stupidity. And I remember dropping a big bowl of cooked pudding on to the floor where it sprayed everywhere, including on my son who was busy rocking his Little Tikes rocker motorcycle. And I remember crying over spilling a box of cereal because that $5 was too precious to waste.

The undeveloped basement was our first connection to the online world. It housed our computer, hard wired into the phone line, where we got very slow and squawking dial-up service. I don’t miss the driving though; I don’t miss it taking me half an hour to drive to the mall that we now walk to. And I don’t miss navigating the road down the hill to our cul-de-sac in the winter where tracks created only a single lane for both directions to try to get through. And I don’t miss our crazy neighbours who probably had a grow-op. It was the perfect place for us to live at the time and although I miss parts of it, I am perfectly content where we are and I’m not ready to move on just yet.