Our house in Calgary, has this room in the front and partially over the garage facing the street, called a Bonus room. I am not exactly sure where the name came from but it is widely used in Calgary. At first I figured it was a different word for ‘the den’ and it may very well be but some houses have a bonus room and a den.
Our Bonus room has a TV, ‘da couch’, and some other entertainment gadgets. As you can expect we spend a lot of time there. It is a little odd because people tend to eat occasionally in their den which in our case is on the second floor with the bedrooms. We don’t spend any time on the first floor except to use the kitchen. In Toronto we did the complete opposite we lived on the second floor and in the kitchen.
There is a big window in the bonus room and when we first moved here I would look out the window every time I heard a car stop or a garage door open. I am cursed with a keen sense of awareness. I notice everything. I can now tell which neighbour drove up by the distinct sounds of the car engines.
Yes my family thinks I am weird, except when my awareness serves a purpose, like last winter in the middle of -35C temperature spell I heard a car pulled up two houses down and across the street. The door opened and closed and people were shouting goodbyes. Nothing odd about that, except about 10 minutes before that I was looking outside and I saw the neighbour who lives in that house drive away. So who just pulled up?
Of course I got up to see, who would not. There was this young lady with a suitcase ringing the doorbell. I know there is no one home, the lady lives alone. A couple years ago she moved there with a husband, then the following year he moved out. Well I assumed that, his car just stopped coming home. No one around here talk to each other.
Anyway, it was -35C, windy and this person was stranded. I told Jo and she immediately put on her biggest coat and ran across the road to engage the kid. Not soon enough, she was frozen, shaking, red face. Jo invited her into our house. Her story, she was a Japanese exchange student, spoke very little English meeting up with another student who was boarding in that house. They were on their way to the north to see the Northern Lights before going home. The other student had been staying there in our neighbour’s house for a couple months now. I somehow missed that in my neighbourhood surveillance. I think 5 more minutes in that weather; god knows what would have happened to her.
Last weekend I was looking out the window and I saw a strange dog sitting on the driveway across the road. I won’t go into too much detail, Jo went out and fed it (yellow lab, huge teeth) and kept its company, you know how St Kitts people are afraid of dogs, right. Pretty soon other neighbours got involved; one lady told us that the dog has been around since Thursday. She was ‘living’ in the backyard of the house attached to the driveway. This particular house has been abandoned because the occupant had turned it into a marijuana grow-op. Anyway it turned out a neighbour a couple of streets over had adopted the dog on the previous Wednesday and he got out of the house and ran away.
I am nosy a bit, but it is not my intention to snoop, I am just aware of all the moving parts. Two nights ago my son who is home from school was sitting on the couch waiting for his brother to pick him up. I was teasing him about his girl friend who is in Saskatoon a few minutes earlier and he was not happy with me at that moment. He decided to ignore me, so I went on the computer and read soccer news, when I heard a car pulled up. Do you know the cars today are very quite compared to just 10 years ago.
Me to son, ‘your brother is outside.’
Son, ‘no he is not, why don’t you mind your business.’
Me. ‘well you can wait until he text you or you can just go’
Of course he is right so he is not going to simply look out the window. Then the text comes in.
Son, ‘no wonder I don’t bring my friends here, you are too nosy.’
Awareness has its downside.
If you are wondering, yes this is the same son that left me bawling on the driveway last September as he drove away on a six hour trip in his brand new car, to his new home in Saskatoon where he attends school. You may recall that I had tried to bribe him to stay home with that car. The rules were if you stay at home; when you graduate you leave home debt free. We live 15 minutes from the top university in the province. Instead he chooses to go away. He still has free tuition but other than that he is in his own.
He came home for the Christmas break, will all his earthly belongings except his 34in TV which he took with him back in September, leaving an ugly bracket on the wall in his bedroom.
He had given me his Christmas wish list which included, a bathroom shelving unit, a mirror, a portable heater, oh and whatever else we had in mind for him. One of the gifts we gave him last Christmas was a subscription to XM radio for his car, he reminded us that it was due for renewal. J’s department, she did not see his needs as ‘proper’ Christmas gifts. I protested, guess who won.
Soon after he got here I asked him if he was planning on applying at the University of Calgary next spring after he had complained about some minor imperfection with the University of Saskatoon. It was a test. He quickly put that thought to rest, he likes where he is. Subject is closed.
Despite the little spat we had, it was a nice visit, he is now a man, why else would he need shelving for his bathroom. Six months ago he was not aware that there is shelving in the bathroom; he left everything in the sink. I was wondering what would be a nice ritual to commemorate his arrival to manhood. If we lived in a third world country I would be cutting off a body part like an ear. He said cash would do it.
Where I grew up it was expected that when you get to be 17 or 18 years old, you would leave home. Quite often it was a financial decision but in my case, we did not have the leave, we all choose to when it was our turn. I can’t imagine what that must have done to my parents. My dad was such a great provider and protector; we must have broken his heart one at a time.
I have come to terms with his need to be away, not like I had a choice. When he drove away this time I waved goodbye and stood with pride, we have raised a fine human. No bawling, just a little tear, his license place was totally covered in mud.
He said he may come back for reading week, somehow I doubt it and perhaps he may even find a summer job there.
He texted me at 8:20pm last night, it read, ‘six hours flat’. This time I did not engage in a long texting conversation, I simply texted back, ‘kool’.
Life as I knew it has changed.
The only Kittitian Couch Potato in Calgary