My flight was scheduled for 1:30pm in Vancouver (YVR). I didn’t want to risk missing my plane, so I woke up that Friday morning at 6am to give me enough time to make the drive (2-3 hrs), get through the border (who knows), and check in my bags and going through security (2 hrs before my flight). As I was getting ready to leave, I decided to document my trip and snapped a couple photos starting with the alarm clock. Then I thought, what if I make a documentary of Puddles going to Toronto instead of me? So I started taking posing Puddles and taking pictures of him waking up, brushing his teeth, checking his email, etc.; making it seem like it was Puddles who was doing the traveling.
Olwen had left her car with me while she was gone. I had been without a car for a couple months since my car got totaled twice while parked on the side of the road (that’s for another story). So being the responsible boyfriend that I was, I loaded up two empty suitcases and my bags, filled up the tank, and took her car north. (On a side note, I had a feeling she might get suspicious of the extra mileage on the car. There was a Jiffy Lube oil change sticker on her windshield, so I knew she’s probably has that in the back of her mind. To cover my tracks, I got the oil changed right before I picked her up from the airport.) I anticipated fighting through traffic and rushing to get to the airport, but I overestimated on the travel time and ended up getting to Vancouver around 10:30am. No rain, no rush hour, no cars at the border. It was the fastest drive to Vancouver I have ever had.
I went over to Yaohan Market to kill some time and grab some snacks from the Asian grocery store. Since I was doing the whole documentary with Puddles, I had to bring him along with me wherever I went. I was pretty self-conscious carrying a stuffed animal around in public not to mention taking pictures of it like he was my firstborn child. Eventually, I stopped caring and took the pictures anyways, even as I was pretending to have Puddles pay the cashier. And considering location, it also wasn’t that awkward since I was in an Asian mall where it’s not out of place for a dude to be holding a stuffed bear. I was just glad I didn’t draw him pink. I also checked out Aberdeen Mall where I visited Daiso, a Japanese general goods store and took pictures with the stuffed animals there. I managed to get a couple shots before the employees told me to stop shooting.
Since I didn’t have any idea where else to go, I headed to the airport. I parked the car, took the shuttle, and checked in my bags. I was still carrying Puddles with me, but it felt even more awkward than before since there were a lot more people as well as security guards who were looking at me. I could almost feel all the staring eyes and weird looks from everyone as if I was having some serious issues (not that I didn’t have any anyways). I was also getting bolder in my picture requests by going up to some of the shops and employees around the airport. Most of them turned me down, but I got a few that were nice enough to play along.
I stayed at my gates for a couple hours, checking my email while chatting with my bros and enjoying an ice-cap from Tim Horton’s. I was pretty excited about the trip and even a little incredulous that I was even going through with this, but I relishing every second of it. The intercom then announced my flight, and I was on my way to Toronto.
The 6-hour flight didn’t feel all that long. I spent part of the flight explaining to the gal sitting next to me why a grown man was carrying around a stuffed polar burtle like a security blanket. She was pretty cool in that she didn’t try moving to another seat or avoid making eye contact with me, but she was pretty excited about the master plan. We had a good conversation for a good portion of the plane ride, and I told to check the website when it was all said and done. I forgot her name, but if you’re reading this right now, let me know in the comments. On a side note, while I was working on the t-shirt, she was watching The Proposal, which, for you non-chick-flick fanatics, is a movie about a Canadian marrying an American. How ironic.
My phone had been turned off since I crossed the border in Vancouver, so whoever knew I was coming wasn’t able to get a hold of me. Earlier, Waiki let me borrow his suitcase for the trip but needed me to drop off some stuff over to his mom’s place in Toronto. The plan was for me to drop off the stuff at her place and then go meet Candy and another friend of Olwen’s, Phil, at their worship practice at a sister church. I’ve been to the church before on my last visit, but I had no idea what Waiki’s mom’s place looked like even though Waiki had sent a detailed email to me with maps and the works (sorry, Waiki, but that’s too many words for me to handle). After landing and getting my rental car, I followed the GPS to the designated address. The building I came to first kind of looked like an apartment, but there was a sign next to the building that read “Church.” I thought that was kind of odd, so I thought she lived in the other apartment buildings in the back. Since I wanted to be cheap and not use my roaming minutes, I kept my phone off and tried to find her apartment in apartments behind. I went up to one of the apartments and found her last name in the directory. After making a couple calls to the name and getting yelled at in Chinese, I finally decided to turn on my phone again. After getting a call from Waiki’s mom, I realized that she was the the first building I arrived at earlier. I dropped off the stuff, which turned out to be a bunch of board games, and was on my way to my destination.
The church wasn’t too far away, and by that time, it was cold and wet, just like Seattle. I knew that there were still people there by a few cars left in the parking lot. I rang the doorbell and was greeted by Phil, who was pretty surprised when he saw me. Candy had only told a few people that someone was visiting Toronto but didn’t say who it was. I was a little surprised that he was able to recognize me since I had a shorter haircut since the last time I saw him. We went into the church where we waited for Candy and several others, including her boyfriend Donny, to wrap up practice. Afterwards we headed over to her house where she called a few more of Olwen’s friends, Darrin, Johan, and Theresa to come over. We hung out for a couple hours talking and taking pictures with Puddles before I had to get to bed. I was planning on meeting Olwen’s parents late morning, early afternoon, but I still needed to get their presents before I came over and needed my sleep.
I stayed in the basement that night and I took a couple moments before I went to bed to think about what I was getting myself into tomorrow. Honestly, I didn’t know what kind of response I would get from her parents. I heard from Olwen before that her parents liked me, but there was a tiny bit of anxiety that I was only 99% sure they would say “yes” as opposed to 100%. To calm myself, I opened my Bible and read James 1:5, a passage that my Mom had shown me when I was a kid. I don’t know why I keep remembering it, but it has always proved timely for me for a lot of stressful or significant occasions. I said a short prayer, took another picture of Puddles, and went to bed. Tomorrow was going to be a big day.