Monday, December 17, 2012


Yesterday we slept in, had a light breakfast, and then drove an hour to the coast to Whitby Bay. There is an enormous old ruinous abbey sitting on the hill top, and apparently we'd been there as kids, but when you're 9 years old all the memories blend a bit, and it didn't look familiar. But it was a sunny day, crisp and windy, and it was so good to just run around these green lawns in between pillars and apses, under archways, over walls, feeling like a kid again.
The village of Whitby was just down the hill from the ruins, so we walked in and got more fish and chips, and played on the beach a bit. The "cold" here is so incredibly manageable. It is damp and often drizzly or overcast, but I've been having lots of conversations with my dad about "imprinting childhood weather"- he has this theory that the weather where you grow up stays with you for the rest of your life, and so feels strangely comfortable/the norm. So the damp, green, drizzle feels fine for me, my dad, and my brother. Whereas my mother spent her first 10 years in Calgary before moving to Vancouver, so for her it's a bit depressing- she misses the -15 and bright sunshine and snow. 
The house here: it is a terrace house, mid-Victorian, original stained glass in the front hall door (to my delight). Tall and narrow. Lots of doors leading to strangely placed rooms and closets and awkward skinny corridors. The ceilings are all so high, and lots of windows, and in one of the two attic bedrooms (one is my brothers, one will be my sisters) there is a huge skylight that you can open and peer out of onto the rooftops. In the back we have a dark, full of ivy and moss and paving-stones garden. Did you ever read The Magician's Nephew as a kid? It reminds me incredibly of Polly and Diggory's houses, and it makes me want to find the connecting attic passageway that runs the entire row of houses. And, of course, discover a magical world beyond that too, haha.
After we came back from the seaside, we had tea and relaxed for an hour or so before it was dark and Dad had to run off to the Minster. He was singing in the choir for last night's special Christmas service (he is very musical), and Mum had signed herself, Joel, and me up to help seat people, hand out coffee, chocolate, etc. Apparently it was a big deal, and the whole town was getting involved. It takes about 10 minutes to walk briskly from our house to the Minster, and, being who we are, we left late, and if you were late they were going to shut the doors and not let you in... so we ran. And showed up sweating, red-faced, and out-of-breath only to be told very firmly that they needed only 1, not 3, of us that night. So without a moments hesitation Joel and I shunted Mother forward, said bye, see you in two hours, and to her dismay turned to leave. And then she started tearing up, being upset, saying she wanted to do this as a family, etc., but there was nothing we could do, so we left. Both of us felt bad, but not too bad. After all, she hadn't asked us if we wanted to do this in the first place, and it wasn't as if we chose to leave- we were kicked out.
So Joel and I went to the pub down the road, had a couple of pints, and showed up for the service giggly and slightly tipsy. Mother had reserved seats for us in the very front, and we sang our Christmas carols with all the heart and gusto we could manage.
I don't know if it was the beer or being in the freezing cold huge stone Minster at night, or even just Christmas spirit, but it was a beautiful evening. It was dark, with mainly candles for light, and every seat was taken. It reminded me of being a kid and going to see Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral with my dad, listening to the boys' choir and picking out the cutest boys who looked my age. The sound of the voices at Yorkminster- while not children's voices- still filled the building and echoed magically, and the familiar phrases, tunes, and harmonies of all the old carols struck at that gong in the centre of my very being that resonates when in the presence of True Beauty. Everyone's cheeks were rosy, and my toes were frozen, but bundled in a winter coat, scarf, and touque you stayed warm enough. And the feeling of LIVING, not just watching something from the outside, or clinically and coldly analyzing the moment, was gone, and it was pure joy to be in the moment. I don't know about you, but that's incredibly rare for me.
Afterwards some couples from Dad's choir invited us over to their place for nibbles and mulled wine, and so Joel and I sat around getting more drunk, while the older ladies flirted with him and I alternated between rolling my eyes and smiling overenthusiastically at anyone who approached me. I guess you could say I wasn't on my best behaviour. There is something about going to my parent's parties that makes me feel like I'm 15 again and in a stroppy mood.

No comments:

Post a Comment