Here's the thing about being the person who stayed home.
During the summer, everyone comes back to visit.
In my generation, people left Saskatchewan like they were being cattle-prodded or fleeing a hurricane. (This year, I'm considering it myself. No one told me the earth shifted and we are now in monsoon territory.)
It is wonderful that people come back for holidays, however short. Jennifer came home for a few days -- she still has family here -- and we spent two wonderful long lunches talking about everything, the way we always have. As we have become older, some of our conversation has become sad, some of it wonderful, some of it much too real; but it's always meaningful and instructive and supportive, and I wouldn't want to live without it. She has lived 'away' for something like 25 years, and I still miss her. I still get teary when we say goodbye and you'd think I'd be used to it by now.
The only consolation is that Jen writes the BEST emails.
My cousin will make her homeward sojourn later in the summer. My aunt's niece (I won't explain) came to visit her, and I lucked into lunch.
But it wasn't just my generation, entirely, who left. Sue, my friend Jan's mom, retired on the coast and has come back east (isn't that weird? Saskatchewan is east of somewhere) to visit friends, return to the lake, and attend a granddaughter's wedding in Alberta. It was great to see her, but also her friends, many of them Gateway Players stalwarts. Visiting with them was incredible; they are such vital, amazing, interesting people..but it also drove home the sad event of Gateway's demise.
I also got a call out of the blue that two women who attended Rosthern Junior College with my first mother were in town, and did I want to meet? One of them I had never seen before. Thanks, Dixie and June, for the visit. You are both remarkable.
Every summer, and often at Christmas, I get these pangs of missing folks and wondering if I've done things right. I'm not sure if it's because I stayed home, and wonder if I should have tried other places; then I could be the one coming home to visit. (That's a great big burbling bagful of what ifs, I tell ya. There was a time when Ken and I had the big talk about whether we should leave this place before it was us turning out the lights as we drove away. Didn't happen, but it looked a little bleak there for a while.)
Or, maybe I just think all my friends and family should all live here. Visiting is nice, but having your old friends in the same town is better.
I'm beyond lucky that my sister and brother and his family have come back to live here after years away. Life is better, rounder, richer and much more full of love with them nearby. My parents are also here (they stayed! thank goodness) and having the entire family in one spot is...well, wonderful isn't quite adequate, I think.
That being said, it's a heck of a good thing some folk come back to visit. If we wanted to visit everyone we love once a year or every two, we'd be flat broke. We would start in St. John's and basically not stop until we hit Victoria. We need two perpetual tickets to everywhere Air Canada (or WestJet) flies.
Which brings me to the lottery thing. I've actually started buying lottery tickets. I feel like an idiot every time, but you know, you can't win if you don't buy a ticket! You won't win anyway, but if you don't buy a ticket, you do realize, it is hopeless.
I'm not big on gambling, and generally think it's not very good for folks, and don't much like casinos. I don't mind a friendly family game of poker, where the highest bet is a quarter.
But I seem to be a lottery convert....because, if I ever win, I won't need the tickets everywhere Air Canada flies.