I just got back from a weekend in Ottawa. Yep, I spent 40+ hours (round trip)- flying from Kaohsiung, Taiwan to Ottawa, Canada- and just about the same amount of time on the ground just to attend my cousin E's wedding.
Unfortunately, as a teacher, I can't just take days off in the middle of the semester. So I've had to arrange for "makeup" teaching hours for the days I would be away.
My usual route is Kaohsiung-Taipei-Seattle-Newark-Toronto-Ottawa. So close, yet so far... I spent less than 5 hours, just barely enough to catch some shut eye at a hotel in Newark, NJ on Thanksgiving night, before flying out bright and early to Ottawa on Friday morning. It would have been great to take at least a week off, so that I could have squeezed in more visits with friends and family. Had I done that- it would have been a double whammy- not only would I have had to makeup the teaching hours, but it would have been a nonstop, exhausting week that I would have had to recover from. It's not getting over jet lag that concerned me, because I actually travel relatively well. I usually get decent sleep on planes and I don't experience major jet lag- not even when traveling between these completely opposite time zones! So taking 4+ days seemed to be the most efficient, less exhausting thing, for me, all things considered- to do.
E has always been more than a big brother to me and on Saturday, November 27, 2004, he finally got married! To my sister and I, and our maternal cousins- especially those who spent the majority of their formative years in Ottawa- E has always been like a brother. To our parents he was like a son, especially when most of us moved away after university and E remained in Ottawa as our parents did. He was the one stop authority on- home repairs, technology, a chauffeur, choreboy and messenger. At one time, our (then technologically inept) parents had E relaying email messages to their shamefully, unresponsive children gone "MIA." Fortunately our parents have now discovered the power of the internet and that email is free.
How do I even begin to describe E? A big kid with a playful sense of humor, avid downhill skier and golfer, super organized, a sci-fi computer geek, someone who always takes care of others and to whom friends are family and family are friends.
There are so many shared memories- of E as our stand-in babysitter, my first, less than graceful attempts at downhill skiing and ski trips with E... Canada Day celebrations and nights out on the town or at the movies sometimes with E and other cousins, or his younger brother B and their friends- they always made me feel welcome and like a peer- though they were about 3-5 years my senior- which certainly seems like a helluva lot older when you're only 17.
I'm so happy for E. He's found a lovely, sensitive, generous, family-oriented, strong woman to share his life with.
Most of us at the wedding had some sort of shared personal history, which made the occasion all the more joyous, enjoyable and celebratory. Surrounded by such love- there was a level of warmth and togetherness unparalled by many weddings I've attended.
The older I get the more I realize how important it is to be there for these special moments- if I can be. I wish that I could say that distance need not be an obstacle, that if I can be there I will move mountains to be there. Since moving to Taiwan, I've already missed a few weddings, births and countless other meaningful events.
Although I might not be able to make it to the east coast of the U.S. until next summer, a possible trip to South and or Central America is in the works during my upcoming winter vacation... so now I'm contemplating the possibility of making a side trip over to the west coast.