The second last weekend in July found me in Drumheller with several of my college girlfriends. This spring is five years since we graduated, and we’ve scattered around the province; all of us have significant others, two of us have kids, most of us have jobs. While we try to keep up with each other via Facebook and email, that’s just not the same as a good face-to-face chat to catch up on everything that’s happened since we saw each other last year at one friend’s wedding.
In the spring of 2003, two friends and I started the tradition of an annual hurrah-exams-are-done spring trip to Jasper. For the next several years, various members of our group would pack up and head out to Jasper to stay in a B&B and tour the trails and town for the weekend. Last year, because two of us had babies and two of us got married, we couldn’t find a weekend that worked for our annual trip. This year, as soon as I knew my husband had a job here in Victoria for the summer, I emailed the group to say we desperately needed a girlfriends getaway and some time to catch up.
And that’s how we found ourselves in a cozy little cottage in East Coulee (a small town twenty minutes east of Drumheller). On Saturday, we had no plans beyond spending time together. Piling into my friend’s seven-passenger van, we just started driving and pulled over whenever we saw something worth seeing: the Hoodoos, the Suspension Bridge, the giant T-Rex in town, Horsethief Canyon, the Bleriot Ferry. Some of those stops brought back memories for me, as my family had holidayed in Drumheller when I was twelve.
On one of our first trips to Jasper, we sat around the campfire one night talking about what we all wanted to be doing. We should have written those dreams down to see how they compared with real life. I probably said I wanted to be married and have kids, but I didn’t expect to be living in a new province. Other friends have faced job changes and health problems, but also found the man of their dreams or a job they love.
As I looked around our group this year, I thought of everything that has changed since those first years of university. I had Lily with me (Sunshine was staying with her grandparents and didn’t even miss us) and my friend had her five-month-old son; having two children along on the trip changed the way we did things—and what we could do, as we discovered when we visited the Atlas Coal Mine on Sunday and decided that most of the tours weren’t suitable for the babies. I found myself wondering about next year—whether we’ll find time to get together again and what changes will have occurred by then.
There’s a saying that many people will walk in and out of your lives, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart. These friends have definitely done that, and I’m richer for having their footprints in my life. I’m grateful for these weekends we’ve had together and hope that, whatever the years ahead bring to each of us, we will find a way to continue sharing with each other.