Monday, January 17, 2005

Calgary to Thailand In 2 Minutes

My whole Life Changed In 2 Minutes.

I spent the last three years in Calgary Alberta with Kahlin. She is a gentle loving soul with a sweet nature and a melodic voice. When I found this painting of a faerie under a shimmering waterfall I immediately thought of her. She looks very much like this painting. Living with Kahlin was wonderful. Our life together was balanced and peaceful and very healing for both of us. I looked forward to coming home from work every day just to be with her. I remember thinking that our life was like a Dream I was afraid I would wake up from; And how true that turned out to be. After living together for two and a half years we chose to take the relationship further. On April 1st, (talk about an omen), I proposed to Kahlin on the balcony of 'Lougheed House'; a hundred year old mansion built by the grandfather of Premier Peter Lougheed. I was a lead carpenter on the renovation crew. One day I even met the Premier on the site. When I asked him if I could take his picture, he replied: "Not unless you're in it too". So here is the picture that was taken with the Premier and me together. I proposed to Kahlin next to a spindle railing I built around the second floor roof. You can see the railing in this picture of the mansion. When she said yes, we both signed a written version of the proposal and and put it inside a corner post of the railing, as a Time Capsule. It is there today. But as the summer progressed, she told me she wasn't sure when she wanted to get married. I thought she was just leary because her first marriage had been difficult. But what she was really trying to say to me was that she was having second thoughts about being with me at all. Then, seven months later, near the end of October, everything changed.

Our Life Together Came To A Crashing Halt

Just as I was finishing my work on the Mansion, I booked a plane ticket so I could visit my relatives in Waterloo Ontario for three weeks and renovate my Mom's house. At this time I had a premonition that that I was going to die. My last day of work was Friday, October 29Th. For the next three days I worked nonstop putting my life in order. On Monday I got a new bank account so that I could use it in case I started my own business. I got my car repaired so that it would be roadworthy for long trips. Then Tuesday morning, just as Kahlin was leaving for work, she said to me: "Steve, I'm feeling confused about getting married and I want to take the three weeks while you're away, to think about it."

I replied without a moment of hesitation:

"Sweetie" I said, " if you're not sure about getting married after three years I think the answer is no." She asked me what I wanted to do. I said without any hesitation: "I'm going to throw away my plane ticket and drive to Ontario". "What will you do then?" she asked. And it just came out of my mouth: "I'm going to take a trip to Thailand." The whole conversation was surrealistic. It was as if we were just playing out lines that had already been rehearsed. I felt like I had been hit in the gut but at the same time I felt exhilarated by what was happening. It had been a dream of mine to travel to Thailand since just before I met Kahlin. But she was never interested in travelling so I never took the trip.

Leaving Calgary

On the following Monday, November 8Th I packed my possessions into a U-Haul trailer and waited for L to come home from work. Our last time together was loving and gentle. I held her in my arms for a long time while she sobbed. "What if I realize in three weeks I want to marry you after all?" she asked. "I don't think I would believe you after only three weeks. But in six weeks; maybe." I replied. She told me she wanted to give me a special present. She said: "I know this is something you gave me, but I would like to give it you you as a special gift because it means so much to me." She brought out her Saint Christopher's metal and put it around my neck. I said that I would not accept it as a gift but that I would trade her for it. I took off my golden ring and said: "This is a gift made by a dear friend ( a jeweller I met many years ago; Leslie Strepesvary). He gave it as a gift without obligation and so I give it to you as my dear friend now. It's the only piece of jewelry I cherish. I've never given it to anyone else but I give it to you now. I want you to know that you mean that much to me and I cherish the beautiful relationship we shared." We held each other for a long time. Kahlin was sobbing as she said: "I'm going to be begging you to take me back in six weeks." I said nothing. I felt numb. Then I turned around and walked out the door to my car. I never said a word as I left and I never looked back as I drove away.

I Smelled Something Burning

Three days later, on November 11th, around 7 pm, I was thirty miles outside of Winnipeg, when I smelled something burning. I had a bad feeling about it so I pulled onto a side road in the middle of nowhere and stopped the car. Then I saw smoke coming up from the hood and when I jumped out I found there was a fire underneath the engine. I popped the hood and frantically searched for something to douse the flames with. The ground was frozen so I couldn't get any dirt to throw on it. The ditch water was iced over. The fire was getting worse and I had to decide whether to make a run for it or to stay with my car and risk being caught in an explosion. Suddenly I remembered I had a bottle of water that had rolled under the seat the day before. I fumbled in the dark until I found it. I poured the water into the engine compartment and put out the blaze. I then got my bearings and headed for a light on the horizon that turned out to be a Service Station, a couple of miles away in a town called "Elie'. The good news was that my car broke down near to where my friend Nancy lives. I was going to visit her anyway and she was in Winnipeg. If this had happened in Northern Ontario or back in Regina, I don't know what I would have done. I had the strongest feeling of deja vu' at that moment because when I drove out West from Ontario, 29 years before, the same thing happened with all the same circumstances. You can read that story in my Post 'AHA 606'. Nancy let me use her Volvo the next day, so I took her dog, 'Mocha Java' (she's the one looking at the camera) and I drove back to my car to assess the damage. I was surprised to find that it looked okay. There was a charred piece of debris under the car but when I started up the engine it ran fine. I noticed there was a Service Center nearby and it turned out to be the only Oldmobile dealership for several miles and it was only a few hundred yards away. I was able to drive the car and trailer to the Service Centre. When I got there, the mechanic, Mike, told me he couldn't look at my car for several days. But when he realized my predicament, he put his other work aside and helped me out. He said that my transmission had become so hot that a plastic shield had caught fire and that's what I had seen burning under my car. He also said that the reason it overheated was because I had driven in overdrive on the highway with a trailer. He told me I should never have done that. He put some new coolant in my rad and said my car might be all right if I drove carefully. I was overjoyed. I went from thinking that my car was done for, to feeling everything was going to be okay again.

"I Don't Think We Should Talk For A While"

Without thinking about it, I did what I always did when I had good news. I called Kahlin on my cellphone to tell her my adventures. She was friendly to me as I chatted about my car. Then I said: “Kahlin, perhaps we can keep in touch as I travel.” I heard her hesitate on the other end of the phone. “ah, I, well, I don’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t think we should talk for a while…” I felt a pit in my stomach as I suddenly realized she had found someone else. I just knew it at that moment. I went on my way, but ten minutes later I heard a loud "clunk" and I lost my drive gear. My transmission really had died this time.

Stranded On The Highway

So now I was stuck on the side of the Transcanada Highway with all my possessions in the U-Haul trailer, and Nancy's dog beside me. But before I even had time to think what to do next, a woman showed up in her SUV and asked if I needed help. She let me bring Mocha with me, and drove us back to the Oldsmobile Mechanic. When I got there I had Mike price out the cost to replace my transmission. He said it would be twenty-two hundred dollars. My car was running great up to that time but the engine had almost four hundred thousand kilometers on it, so I couldn't see putting the money into it. I know I should have been upset about the car but the phone call with Kahlin hit me so hard that I just didn't care. It was finally striking me that our relationship was truly over. And I realized why she had been able to suddenly stop talking to me after three years. She was with someone else. I felt betrayed and angry and hurt. I had left her just three days ago and she was already with another man. When Nancy got home from work I told her what happened. Then I said: "There is only one thing to do when this many calamities strike all at once; Go for sushi!" So we did.

Leaving My Car Behind

The next day, Saturday, I got on the phone for six hours, exploring my options. Then in the afternoon, Nancy, Mocha and I drove back to Elie to find a Tow Truck. We ended up talking to 'Yan' who said he couldn't tow my car with a trailer on it because it was illegal. But when I told him my story he just did it anyway. When we got back to his service station he even put the U-Haul in his impound yard to keep it safe; and all for just fifty bucks. Next, I took Nancy for dinner while I phoned to find someone to buy my car. I talked to Brian, who is a auto broker. When I told him my situation he said there was no way he could even look at my car for at least two days, and then only if I could get it towed to his lot in Winnipeg. But when I told him my car was in Elie he said: "I live in Elie. I'll look at it right now." Just after this picture of Nancy and me in the restaurant was taken, Brian called me back. He said that all he could pay me for my car was two hundred dollars. I agreed to his price and we went back to the Service Station and did the deal. This is Brian standing beside my U-Haul just after we finished the paperwork. Just as he was about to leave, I noticed he had a hitch on his truck. He agreed to take the U-Haul to Nancy's as part of the deal. This is the last picture I took of my car at the last time I ever saw it. What you see is the sun setting through the windows of my Oldsmobile.The next day, Sunday, Brian delivered my Trailer and I emptied the contents into Nancy's garage and repacked them for movers to take away later. The next morning; Monday the 15th, I went to the Greyhound Bus depot and bought a ticket to Waterloo Ontario for two hundred dollars. This is me sitting with my bags in the Winnipeg terminal, reading a book I borrowed from Kahlin's daughter, Cara-rae. You can see I'm wearing the Saint Christopher's medal that Kahlin gave me. The trip took twenty-two hours. The bus seats were very cramped but the Bus showed movies all the way through Ontario.

A Tale Of Two Cities

So I spent the next two days reading 'Wizard's First Rule', watching movies and writing in my journal. My Mom and sister met me in Waterloo and I'm staying at my Mom's now. My life is like 'A Tale of Two Cities'. It is the best of times. It is the worst of times. It was twenty-nine years ago, that I left Ontario for the West. Now that I'm back I am renewing ties with my family. My sister 'Melbah Toasty' was fourteen when I left. She and I are like Siamese twins now. She's one of the wisest people I've ever known. It's one of the greatest blessings in my life to spend time with her. We get laughing so hard that our relatives are considering intervention. My Mom is my best buddy. She fixed up a room for me. We go running at the Rec Centre every morning and she makes gourmet meals for me every night. My brother Mike invited me for Christmas. This is a picture with Mike and his family on Christmas morning. I lived in a Dream Bubble with Kahlin for the last three years so I fell out of touch with everyone else I knew. I found it extremely painful to suddenly not have a partner to talk to every day. I never knew I would miss that contact so much. I have a very dear friend who I totally lost contact with when I began dating Kahlin. She and I have renewed our connection and now we talk almost every night on the phone. Between her and my sister, I've laughed more than I have in a long time. One of the greatest blessing that came from being with Kahlin, was the bond I formed with her two daughters Cara-rae and Sharah. I have kept up contact with both girls. I was deeply touched recently when Sharah said: "Steve, you are a Dad to me." And I feel she is my daughter. Cara-rae and I are in touch by email less frequently but we know we love each other just the same.


I bought my ticket for Thailand just before the Tsunami hit Southeast Asia. I knew when I booked my trip, something incredible was going to happen but I never thought it would be on such a Worldwide scale. And like the Tsunami, my Dream life was swept away in a moment. My new adventure is just beginning.


somsoc said...

Synchronicity is a great word and a great way to live.
Hopefully you have continued to live that way. I hope you will keep blogging and fill your blogger readers in on how your trip went.

B$ said...

What a gripping tale! You will have more adventures to come, I am sure of it.

I'll be checking back.
Good luck

Belle said...

This was absolutely beautiful. I hope you find many happy adventures on your trip.

Steven said...

Somsoc: Yes, my life continues to be a great adventure. Synchronicity is how all life works, in my opinion. Thank you for your encouragement.

Steven said...

B$: I wish you worked for the New York Times! It is exhilarating to have my story described as 'gripping'. Thank you!

Steven said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Steven said...

Belle: I have come to believe that the greatest treasure is not what we possess but who we meet. Thank you for your warm response to my story.

Anonymous said...

Well that got me crying for sure Steve. I was so shocked about you and Kalin - I just didn't believe it and who would think your first wife would be crying for two days. I knew the both of you as a couple and as my friends, it was such a warm and loving relationship, and I knew you would be leaving Calgary and I wouldn't see you again. The fact of the matter is that I have never had so much contact with you with your posts, blogging, live conversation thru the computer. So if you had such a loving relationship - JUST THINK HOW WONDERFUL YOUR NEXT ONE IS GOING TO BE!!!!! This shows how neet Steve is - how many ex-wives still care about and love their husbands? If I really needed Steve I know he would be here in a minute and it is the same with me. IF he really needed me I would be here (just kidding) THERE in a minute.

Love ya Steve
You're made of good stuff, NO GREAT STUFF!!
Love Bee (His honey's get names like Kalin, Hummingbird - and i get BEE or BE)

ridgewalkerpete said...

Hey Steve , Your camel racing chops have come a long they say "Yeeeee Haaaaa"

Ridge Walker

Steven said...

Ridgewalkerpete, your adventure is an inspiration to me.