The Night Canada Was Closed

Tragically Hip - Canada is ClosedSo August 20th has come and gone, and with that date came the last concert of The Tragically Hip.

Tragically Hip 1For those who aren’t familiar with Canada’s greatest rock band, let me give you a quick history lesson. The Tragically Hip is a band who came around in the late 1980’s and hit the country with one rock anthem after another. Not only were the songs catchy, but the lyrics were heavy and introspective and thought-provoking and many of them told important stories. If that was all that the band was known for, that might be enough for a pretty decent career.

Gord DownieHowever, frontman Gord Downie was one of the most eclectic and electrifying singers in the entire world. He could sing a song with passion and force, but then ad-lib incoherently non-stop in a manner that made you think he was either stoned out of his mind or legitimately insane.

There’s a very fine line between insanity and genius, and after 20+ years of amazing music I’d dare say that not only is Downie genius, he’s become Canada’s unofficial poet laureate and the band has unofficially become “Canada’s Band”, delivering the soundtrack for our country.

So why am I writing a story about a rock band? Well…as mentioned this past Saturday saw them play was is more-than-likely their final concert. Why? It’s not about them splitting up or retiring. No, word came out a couple of months ago that he was diagnosed with a terminal form of brain cancer.

Long-time readers of my blog already know that my mother passed away a few years ago from cancer, and while the disease has eventually ravaged her entire body it all started with a brain tumor. So needless to say, this story hit me pretty hard.

I’ve been a fan of The Hip (as their commonly known to by their fans) since I first heard New Orleans is Sinking back in 1989. And for me, this song NEVER gets old…

Album after album came out over the next decade and I always found at least one song I could crank up, which is probably similar to how a lot of Hip fans felt. I was fortunate enough to see them three times in concert over the years and even saw a Tragically Hip cover band (called Little Bones) twice during that period, as well. So yes…I would consider myself a very big fan of theirs.

Tragically Hip 2When word of their final concert came out that it would take place in the band’s hometown of Kingston, Ontario, the country’s biggest independent entertainment company (CBC) said that they were not only going to show the concert live on television (and unedited by commercials!!), but they would also show it simulcast on their YouTube channel, their website, and their radio stations across the country. CBC reported yesterday that over 11.7 million people watched the concert on Saturday night (in comparison, the opening night of the Rio Olympics garnered 2.4 million viewers).

Once the information came out about the live broadcast of the concert, towns and cities across the country scrambled to set-up viewing parties so fans could show their love and respect for this incredible band. While just under 7,000 fans packed the the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston to watch it in person, over 20,000 fans packed Springer Market Square a few blocks away. In my home city of Halifax, Nova Scotia over 5,000 fans packed the downtown’s Grand Parade to enjoy the concert on three big-screens.

Halifax - HIP

As the concert came to an end, I teared up. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve been near-tears in the days since (and while writing this post). There is just something about Gord Downie and the influence he has had in my life over the past 25+ years added to the way brain cancer has affected my life that combines to make me extremely emotional. It was actually during the song Grace, Too that it really hit me like a ton of bricks. Near the end of the song, Downie screams in anguish. During this performance, though, he seemed to be letting out all of the pain and hurt and frustration and anger and sadness that he was holding inside of him. He screamed out “NOOO” over and over…as if it were a big F*CK YOU to cancer. But in the end he realized that this wasn’t a battle he could win, and the emotion simply overtook him. The link below goes to a video of this part of the song…

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/748010563966/

Grace TooThe photo at left should really tell the story. Knowing how cancer affected my mom, I can only imagine just how this disease is affecting someone so full of life and innovation and art as Gord Downie. All-in-all, it was simply gut-wrenching to watch, but also empowering in a way.

At the end of the day, Canada was closed on Saturday night…and I don’t know if the country will ever be the same again.

But there will ALWAYS be the music.

#FUCKCancer #InGordWeTrust #ThankYouGord #TheHip #TheTragicallyHip

The Tragically Hip’s final setlist:

“50 Mission Cap”

“Courage”

“Wheat Kings”

“At the Hundredth Meridian”

“In a World Possessed by the Human Mind”

“What Blue”

“Tired As F*ck”

“Machine”

“My Music at Work”

“Lake Fever”

“Toronto #4”

“Putting Down”

“Twist My Arm”

“Three Pistols”

“Fiddler’s Green”

“Little Bones”

“The Last Of The Unplucked Gems”

“Something On”

“Poets”

“Bobcaygeon”

“Fireworks”

Encore 1

“New Orleans Is Sinking”

“Boots or Hearts”

“Blow at High Dough”

Encore 2

“Nautical Disaster”

“Scared”

“Grace, Too”

Encore 3

“Locked In The Trunk Of A Car”

“Gift Shop”

“Ahead By A Century”

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/748014147690/

Tragically Hip 3

Where My Shoes Have Taken Me – Grand Manan Island

Continuing my new blog series of telling my stories through photographs, I simply HAD to talk about a fantastic recent trip I made to Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick. Y’see, my wife had lived there briefly when she was younger and had some really great friends who grew up there, but she hadn’t seen them in years.

We decided to meet-up with them and spend the weekend. It would be my first time visiting Grand Manan, so I knew that I had to take a TON of photos of where my shoes were taking me this time…

These are my new Skechers: the Men’s Relaxed Fit: Blais-Telen. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned. On this day, they took me to a hillside in downtown Halifax to watch the 2016 Pride parade. We were VERY fortunate to find a near-empty hillside by the very beginning of the parade route. While thousands and thousands of people waited throughout the downtown core, there may have been maybe 100 people scattered along the hill. It was the PERFECT spot.
These are my new Skechers: the Men’s Relaxed Fit: Blais-Telen. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned. I knew that I’d be doing a ton of walking and/or standing over the course of the weekend, so I wanted something on my feet with some cushion. These sneakers have memory foam inside, making them an EXTREMELY comfy shoe to wear on an occasion such as this one.
It wasn’t easy, but we got up at the ass-crack of dawn on a Saturday morning so we could hit the road by 6am. Needless to say, we started the car on time.
We made quite a few stops along our 5+ hour trip. The first was a pit-stop in Amherst, Nova Scotia. For whatever reason, we saw this motorcycle sign and thought it was hilarious. I mean...it looks like it's straight out of the 1950's or something. Or maybe it was just us.
We made quite a few stops along our 5+ hour trip. The first was a pit-stop in Amherst, Nova Scotia. For whatever reason, we saw this motorcycle sign and thought it was hilarious. I mean…it looks like it’s straight out of the 1950’s or something. Or maybe it was just us.
The second pit-stop was in Moncton, New Brunswick. We had gone about as far as we could go before Sunshine had to get her hands on some Starbucks. Happy wife = happy life!!
The next stop is now kind of a "tradition" for us whenever we drive through the area. This is an Irving Big Stop located in Salisbury, New Brunswick. I don't know why, but this gas station is massive and is always REALLY busy. It's just a fun stop for us to take a silly selfie.
The next stop is now kind of a “tradition” for us whenever we drive through the area. This is an Irving Big Stop located in Salisbury, New Brunswick. I don’t know why, but this gas station is massive and is always REALLY busy. It’s just a fun stop for us to take a silly selfie.
Even though it was 10:45am, we felt as though it was time for lunch (we'd been up for almost six hours by this point). Thankfully, we found a Wendy's in Saint John, New Brunswick that opened a few minutes early.
Even though it was 10:45am, we felt as though it was time for lunch (we’d been up for almost six hours by this point). Thankfully, we found a Wendy’s in Saint John, New Brunswick that opened a few minutes early.
We finally made our way to Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick. This was where we would catch the ferry to the island.
The views from the ferry terminal were beautiful. It may be a very small blip on the map, but it's a very picturesque location.
The views from the ferry terminal were beautiful. It may be a very small blip on the map, but it’s a very picturesque location.
Okay…I was really stoked to see that there were “ARCADE GAMES” around the corner inside of the ferry terminal. I mean, I hadn’t seen arcade games in years, but remember just how much time I spent in arcades when I was a teenager. I couldn’t wait to go around the corner so I could…….
...see the one arcade game. Umm...okay. Not only was it just one arcade game in a tiny nook of the ferry terminal, but it was Ms. Pac-Man. No offense, but I'm just an original Pac-Man kind of guy. Oh well...
…see the one arcade game. Umm…okay. Not only was it just one arcade game in a tiny nook of the ferry terminal, but it was Ms. Pac-Man. No offense, but I’m just an original Pac-Man kind of guy. Oh well…
The ferry itself wasn't overly large, but I hadn't been on one in about 15 years. It's always a weird feeling to drive onto a boat and realize you've got zero control over your destiny for the next hour or two.
The ferry itself wasn’t overly large, but I hadn’t been on one in about 15 years. It’s always a weird feeling to drive onto a boat and realize you’ve got zero control over your destiny for the next hour or two.
Just a few views from the ferry, including the menu which had a "steak dinner" for $8.99 and a "donair" for $4.99. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't trust a ferry to provide me quality versions of either one.
Just a few views from the ferry, including the menu which had a “steak dinner” for $8.99 and a “donair” for $4.99. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust a ferry to provide me quality versions of either one.

Sunshine and I made our way off the ferry and found her friend’s house. After hugging her best friend (who she hadn’t seen in over a decade), we all went inside to settle-in, hear some fun stories of Sunshine in her 20’s, and enjoy a feast.

This is just a glimpse of the feast we enjoyed on the first night in Grand Manan with Sunshine's friends. Lobster dip, seafood chowder, beer-soaked ribs, and so much more. I felt bad because I couldn't eat everything placed in front of me. At least I was able to enjoy a couple of Keith's Red, which is a Halifax-made beer that is my current beer of choice.
This is just a glimpse of the feast we enjoyed on the first night in Grand Manan with Sunshine’s friends. Lobster dip, seafood chowder, beer-soaked ribs, and so much more. I felt bad because I couldn’t eat everything placed in front of me. At least I was able to enjoy a couple of Keith’s Red, which is a Halifax-made beer that is my current beer of choice.
Nothing says “Maritime nights” like sitting around a bonfire.
Can you imagine waking up to this sunset out your bedroom window every single morning? I mean, it was just spectacular and I don't even think my photo can truly do it justice.
Can you imagine waking up to this sunset out your bedroom window every single morning? I mean, it was just spectacular and I don’t even think my photo can truly do it justice.
On the morning of Day 2, we were up early and got down to a friend's fishing boat by 9:30am so we could go out and go whale watching. This was the first time either one of us had ever gone, so we were quite excited for the day.
On the morning of Day 2, we were up early and got down to a friend’s fishing boat by 9:30am so we could go out and go whale watching. This was the first time either one of us had ever gone, so we were quite excited for the day.
The view from the back of the boat. It was a beautiful day for whale watching!
The view from the back of the boat. It was a beautiful day for whale watching!
I don't know if these photos truly tell the tale of how awesome this experience was. I mean, not only did we get to see some whales, but we got to "hang out" with three of them for well over an hour...at one point being literally feet away from one of them. A lot of people pay a LOT of money to go whale watching but never get to see any. We got to see this for free. Unbelievable!!
I don’t know if these photos truly tell the tale of how awesome this experience was. I mean, not only did we get to see some whales, but we got to “hang out” with three of them for well over an hour…at one point being literally feet away from one of them. A lot of people pay a LOT of money to go whale watching but never get to see any. We got to see this for free. Unbelievable!!
I hope this photo gives you an idea of just how close we were to the whales. I mean...it's really an experience we'll never forget.
I hope this photo gives you an idea of just how close we were to the whales. I mean…it’s really an experience we’ll never forget.
This incredible photograph (if I do say so myself) is of <a href="http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=4738" target="_blank">Gannet Rock</a>. This lighthouse was built back in 1831 and was deemed a national historic property in 1991.
This incredible photograph (if I do say so myself) is of Gannet Rock. This lighthouse was built back in 1831 and was deemed a national historic property in 1991. It’s unmanned now, but remains a powerful spectacle if you have the opportunity to cruise by this tiny island.

When you’re on Grand Manan Island, you have the opportunity to see some spectacular sunsets. The next three photos were taken at three different locations on a gorgeous Saturday evening…

Grand Manan - Day 2 - 7

Grand Manan - Day 2 - 8

Grand Manan - Day 2 - 9

Our second day on Grand Manan concluded with fireworks over the water off of Stanley's Beach. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic weekend.
Our second day on Grand Manan concluded with fireworks over the water off of Stanley’s Beach. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic weekend.
This is the last memory I'll take from our time on Grand Manan...another spectacular sunrise. I mean, honestly...can you imagine this every single day??
This is the last memory I’ll take from our time on Grand Manan…another spectacular sunrise. I mean, honestly…can you imagine this every single day??
The final pic of our trip was of the ferry coming to pick us up and take us back to the mainland. It was a fantastic long weekend and Grand Manan is definitely a location I'd visit again. If you're ever traveling through New Brunswick, I highly recommend it as a place to stay for photo ops, if nothing else.
The final pic of our trip was of the ferry coming to pick us up and take us back to the mainland. It was a fantastic long weekend and Grand Manan is definitely a location I’d visit again. If you’re ever traveling through New Brunswick, I highly recommend it as a place to stay for photo ops, if nothing else.

Where My Shoes Have Taken Me – Halifax Pride

As long-time readers of this blog will undoubtedly know, I’m not writing nearly as much as I used to. I think it just happens to be that when life isn’t that bad, bloggers have less and less to write about. Life is right now is good. VERY good. Things are finally coming together in a variety of ways. While I’m not writing that much, I am still taking photos on a near-daily basis and trying to appreciate everything that happens around me.

I’ve decided to do a new series of blog posts where I will try to tell a story through photos. It may work; it may not. But at the end of the day, I hope that I will be able to continue sharing my life through pictures and stories.

My shoes take me to a lot of different places. Here is the first of the series of tales about those places…

These are my new Relaxed Fit: Skech-Flex sneakers. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I've ever owned. On this day, they took me to a hillside in downtown Halifax to watch the 2016 Pride parade.
These are my new Skechers: the Men’s Relaxed Fit: Blais-Telen. Without a shadow of a doubt, they are the most comfortable sneakers I’ve ever owned. On this day, they took me to a hillside in downtown Halifax to watch the 2016 Pride parade. We were VERY fortunate to find a near-empty hillside by the very beginning of the parade route. While thousands and thousands of people waited throughout the downtown core, there may have been maybe 100 people scattered along the hill. It was the PERFECT spot.
This was the first time my son had ever attended the Halifax Pride Parade. In fact, I'm not sure if he ever had been exposed to the LGBT community before. I tried to explain to him prior to the event what to expect, why we were going, and why there was a parade. I felt it was important for all of our kids to understand what everybody was celebrating.
This was the first time my son had ever attended the Halifax Pride Parade. In fact, I’m not sure if he ever had been exposed to the LGBT community before. I tried to explain to him prior to the event what to expect, why we were going, and why there was a parade. I felt it was important for all of our kids to understand what everybody was celebrating.

Halifax Pride 2
Halifax Pride 3
Halifax Pride 4

This was my son's favourite part of the parade. While no San Diego Comic Con, the local Hal-Con has grown in popularity over the past few years. To watch a rainbow-coloured stormtrooper walk by was really cool to him.
This was my son’s favourite part of the parade. While no San Diego Comic Con, the local Hal-Con has grown in popularity over the past few years. To watch a rainbow-coloured stormtrooper walk by was really cool to him.

Halifax Pride 6
Halifax Pride 7

The kids stood there the entire time…smiling and enjoying the entire parade. This was an experience that they weren’t soon going to forget.
As the final float went by, we dashed home for a few minutes before the second stop on our Pride Tour, the roller derby game!!
As the final float went by, we dashed home for a few minutes before the second stop on our Pride Tour, the roller derby game!!
I had never been to a live roller derby game before, but my wife had always wanted to go to one. This just seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Anchor City Rollers is the name of Halifax's flat track roller derby league. On this day, they were presenting a mixed, queer-themed scrimmage roller derby game featuring players from all over the Maritimes. It was considered an official Halifax Pride event that was made up of the UNISCORNS and the SCISSOR KICKS.
I had never been to a live roller derby game before, but my wife had always wanted to go to one. This just seemed to be the perfect opportunity. Anchor City Rollers is the name of Halifax’s flat track roller derby league. On this day, they were presenting a mixed, queer-themed scrimmage roller derby game featuring players from all over the Maritimes. It was considered an official Halifax Pride event that was made up of the UNISCORNS and the SCISSOR KICKS.


When all was said and done, the game was a blow-out. It didn't matter to the kids, though...they had a GREAT time. All of the women put on a helluva show and displayed more toughness than I could ever imagine displaying myself (I mean...I certainly wouldn't do that!!).
When all was said and done, the game was a blow-out. It didn’t matter to the kids, though…they had a GREAT time. All of the women put on a helluva show and displayed more toughness than I could ever imagine displaying myself (I mean…I certainly wouldn’t do that!!).

So this is where my shoes have taken me this time. Because I’m always wearing something on my feet, I’ll always have a way to get somewhere.

Throwback Thursday – The Star Wars Reminder

Star Wars Force Awakens Yes, yes…I fully realize that I have already pimped myself out to Netflix Canada because Star Wars: The Force Awakens is streaming in Canada (exclusively!) right now. But as it was a “Throwback Thursday” and I saw another tidbit from Netflix in my inbox, I felt as though I had to post one more time.

Ankle Biter light saberY’see, Star Wars has always held a special place in my heart. For example, I introduced my son to the original trilogy when he was only 3 years old. A little young? Probably. As a dad wanting to see his son’s eyes light up, however, it didn’t bother me too much. There is no blood or cursing…just some special effects lasers and some explosions. Needless to say, he was immediately a fan and has been a fan ever since.

And yes…we’ve already watched The Force Awakens twice on Netflix since July 15th, even though we saw it in the theatres.

And then I think way back to 2009 when I was just beginning to date my amazing wife, Sunshine. She had never seen the movie before and even faked crying with her ex just to get out of watching it with him.

Star Wars IV: A New HopeOn this occasion, however, she decided to give it a shot. We went overboard with the snacks (peanut M&M’s, Doritos, Reece’s Pieces) and watched Star Wars together. She didn’t hate it, so I have always considered that a massive “win” for me. And the fact that we were able to document this night with a photo makes it all the more memorable…

Sunshine - Star Wars

This brings me back to the item that I found in my inbox from Netflix Canada. It was a recipe for “Wookie Cookies“. I mean, if you’re going to truly sit back and enjoy the glory that is Star Wars with your family, you might as well go all-out!

WookieCookie_Recipe

Thanks, Netflix! You never fail to put a smile on my face!

Canada Day? How About Canada Month!

Netflix CanadaY’know, sometimes I feel as though ‘Canada Day’ should be more like ‘Canada Month’. I mean, it’s not like I want the entire month off (though that’s not a horrible idea), but I think our country is so freakin’ awesome that I want to celebrate it all month long. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels that way.

My good friends at Netflix Canada have helped me celebrate my great home country throughout July, and I thought I’d share with you some of the highlights:

  • TPB - NetflixTrailer Park Boys. Listen…I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I’ve been to the trailer park where the boys originally filmed their show. I know just how Canadian this show actually is (from time to time, anyway). The fact that it has crossed-over in popularity with other parts of the world just makes it all the more unique. The twisted tales of Ricky, Julien, and Bubbles never fail to entertain as long as you have the right sense of humour to truly enjoy it (viewer discretion IS advised, after all).
  • How I Met Your MotherHow I Met Your Mother. This is a television series that my family did not watch during its initial run. Thankfully, Netflix has all nine seasons available to binge-watch! As a family, we’re all hooked on this show and are up to the fourth season now. What makes it Canadian? Well, you can’t watch the show and not fall in love with Robin Scherbatsky (played by Cobie Smulders, who is originally from Vancouver, BC.). Not only that, but if you watch the episodes that involve Canadian pop icon Robin Sparkles and then don’t feel like going to the mall…well…I don’t know if we can still be friends.
  • Change UpThe Change-Up. This movie is silly, but still full of chuckles and fun. Former best friends Mitch (Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds) and Dave (Jason Bateman) have drifted apart over the years. After a drunken reunion where they profess their envy of the other’s life, they wake up to find that they have somehow switched bodies. They soon discover that things are not as great as they thought they were and then try to find a way to return their lives to normal.
  • DegrassiDegrassi: Next Class. My girls (aged 11 and 13) absolutely LOVE this show. And much like the two previous incarnations, this is a Canadian series that is filmed in Toronto. The show follows a group of high school sophomores and juniors from the fictional Degrassi Community School. What made the show popular previously is what has made it popular again: it depicts some of the typical issues and challenges common to every teenager’s life (ex: cyber bullying, mental illness, sexuality, drug use, racial discrimination, etc.). While I don’t watch this show, it’s definitely one that I will let my kids watch and learn from.
  • CaillouCaillou. I’ll be the first to admit that I was never really a fan of Caillou when my kids were younger. But this is a Canadian program produced by a Canadian studio that continues to entertain kids of the newer generation. The series is based on the books by Canadian educator/writer Hélène Desputeaux and centers around a 4-year old boy named Caillou who is fascinated by the world around him. It’s a show primarily designed for toddlers so keep that in mind if you’re first-time viewer.

Finally, there was one more reason Netflix gave me reason to celebrate being Canadian…

H Key Art

That’s right…Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted on Netflix Canada during the month of July!! I know that my American friends weren’t overly thrilled to hear that Canucks were able to watch this movie on Netflix, but I provide no apologies! This is freaking awesome!!

Prod stillI’m a life-long Star Wars fan from the moment I saw the original in the theatres back in 1977. I have helped my son become a huge Star Wars fan and we both saw The Force Awakens in theatres and thought it blew our minds. I was going to buy it on Blu-ray, but I’m putting that purchase off for the time being so we can continue to repeat watch the movie on Netflix…whenever we want!

Clone Wars title treatmentAdd to that the fact that all SIX seasons of Star Wars: The Clone Wars are also available on Netflix and you can only imagine the bonding experiences my son and I have had over the past couple of weeks. There is so much Star Wars fun to be had that we barely have time to watch anything else!

So let’s revel in the fact that Netflix Canada has helped us all celebrate Canada Day during the entire month. Maybe this is the beginning of a new Canadian holiday?

Kung Fu Panda 3 – Awesome Edition Giveaway!!

Kung Fu Panda 3 - fAs the father of a blended family of five kids, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve seen Kung Fu Panda. Where my youngest is turning 10 in September, I think it’s probably also safe to assume that I’ve seen all three Kung Fu Panda movies. 

Kung Fu Panda 3 - bKung Fu Panda 3 (from DreamWorks Animation and is an action-comedy that pleases kids and adults alike. After reuniting with his long-lost father, Po travels to a secret village and meets a ton of new panda friends and family members. But when the supernatural villain Kai challenges all the Kung Fu masters across China, Po must discover the teacher within himself and train his clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas!

Kung Fu Panda 3 - cThe Blu-ray contains a number of special features such as Everybody Loves a Panda Party, Panda Paws, Play Like a Panda, and The Origin of “Skadoosh”. The great thing about this Blu-ray is that with the movie comes a Digital HD code that allows you to watch this movie on all of your enabled devices!

Kung Fu Panda 3 - e

How do you win this Blu-ray for your family? It’s simple!!

Once those three things are done…

  • Make a short video of you and/or your child explaining why they would like to own this movie. It doesn’t have to be long…just a quick 5-10 second video uploaded to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, or any other social media outlet that you’re attached to. 

That’s it! I’ll randomly pick a winner from the entries on August 31st, 2016. Good luck and have fun!!Kung Fu Panda 3 - d

The Mini-Reunion (part three – the conclusion)

I can’t lie…I was a little bit nervous about going. Thankfully, those feelings were set to the side very quickly. Here’s how things went…

Sunshine and I left the city at about 4pm. We had adult beverages and snacks for people (in an effort to get on everyone’s good side). Sunshine was pretty nervous about the whole thing, too, but for different reasons. She had never really met any of my friends in a casual setting (i.e. outside of my mom’s funeral) so she wasn’t sure what to expect.

We got to the bustling metropolis of Amherst, Nova Scotia around 6pm and hit the local Subway for supper. I know we were asked to bring something to BBQ on the grill, but I thought that by the time we got there that everybody would already be done eating, so I didn’t want us to stand out in any way.

It was another 25 minutes to the house by the ocean, and as we drove along I began to have flashbacks to when I was in my teens. I had traveled that 20-minute stretch of back-road a hundred times in my youth so attend local parties or hang out with friends by the beach. I told Sunshine about some of the stories and it helped me feel a bit better about things.

As we parked and got out of the car, I wanted to act as nondescript as possible. That was going to be impossible as I immediately noticed my best friend staring at me. In fact, because everybody else was behind the house (they have a back deck/grilling area), he was the only person I saw. I noticed him say to someone something about “Guess who’s here?” or a similar line.

He then broke the silence: “Hey CBG…how’s life treating ya?”

I wanted to come up with something witty, but instead spit out : “Livin’ la vida loca, buddy.”

Ugh. How lame did I sound saying that?

Initial introductions were a bit awkward as most people there had met my wife under less-than-ideal circumstances. While she was standing there, I was giving hugs to friends I hadn’t seen in years (in person, anyway…thanks Facebook!). All told, I think the first hour we were there was a little awkward…though it was more us than them. My friends were very welcoming and just wanted to sit back and talk.

It took a little while that night, but I feel like a lot of barriers disappeared as our conversations continued on. Of course, adult beverages didn’t hurt…but the conversations were good. We talked about life, career choices, our kids, and just how lucky we all were to be with our respective spouses.

Really…talking to my best friends felt like no time at all had passed. There were no weird silences and laughter accompanied a lot of the stories that were told. By the end of the night, we had shared phone numbers and added each other to our phone contacts…promising to not wait years to stay in touch again.

As my best friend left, we gave each other a hug. It lingered a bit more than a normal “man hug”, but when we let go and he began to leave, he gave me a look and nodded slightly. It was if to say that yeah…this was good.

Of course, my friends really liked my wife and they all got along famously. That never even crossed my mind as being a problem, though…I know them and I know her, so I knew that they would all get along really well.

Looking back, I’m now really excited about our next potential trip there. The awkwardness will be gone and we’ll have a real chance to rebuild friendships and enjoy life.

I’m just wishing I hadn’t waited so long to make this first step.