Life at the Little House in the Bush is full of surprises. Some more unexpected than others. This is a story that began more than ten years ago and came full circle this week.
Back before Sweetie and I bought the Little House, when my mom was still in residence, I was flying here for a visit. Canadian winter being what it is, my flight out of Toronto was delayed, delayed again and again. While I was waiting at the gate, I struck up a conversation with Janice, a woman who has lived here in town for many years.
A former teacher who had retired by then, she had been visiting her daughter who lives in Southern Ontario and was making her way home. We chatted about all sorts of things: families, work, parents, the other passengers, airlines. And we bonded. When our flight was finally cancelled for bad weather, the airline suggested it could probably get us home the next day. Janice and I looked at each other, said no thanks and hotfooted it over to another airline where we managed to buy seats on the last available flight out that night. We got seats together, continued to chat and laugh and hung on to each other when the plane hit some bad turbulence. When the plane bounced in for a landing, we broke into relieved laughter and set about figuring out how to get home. Janice had a friend who agreed to pick us up at the airport and take us to Janice’s apartment in town. We went in just long enough for her to drop off her luggage; then Janice pulled her car out of the underground garage and drove me all the way out to the Little House. She didn’t have to do it. But that’s the kind of person she is. We waved good-bye and that was that. But not before exchanging addresses.
For the next ten years or so, we exchanged Christmas cards. Year after year, without fail. She changed her name back to her maiden name. One of her daughters got married, then had babies. The cards included little notes, brief updates and always a line about needing to get together. But we never did. Until this week.
A few days ago, the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number or the voice. Until the woman at the other end of the line said, “Hi. It’s Janice. I decided that this time we are getting together. I saved your phone number from your Christmas card. Let’s meet for coffee tomorrow.”
And so we did. I wouldn’t have recognized her if I had seen her on the street. Nor she me. But when she entered the café, I knew it was her. We picked up where we left off all those years ago. We caught up on kids and families. We talked about politics and the state of education. We laughed as we recalled our first meeting. Janice told me when her daughter asked her where she was going, she said she was meeting her friend she met at the airport. That’s how she’s referred to me all this time. Her friend. From a chance meeting of a few hours years ago.
When it was time to go, we hugged and promised to do it again. With any luck, it won’t take us ten years. And it probably wouldn’t have happened if Sweetie and I hadn’t taken on the Little House. Funny where life takes you.