This weekend we made our annual pilgrimage to Vancouver to celebrate the birthday of Oliver, son of our friends Jean and Ernesto. Jean and I were grad students in the same year together at USask. Darren was a year ahead of us in the history department and Ernesto was completing his Engineering degree.
Over my two years in Saskatoon the history students were a social lifeline for Darren and me. New to the city, and newlyweds at that, we bumbled around on our own, spent a lot of time studying and writing papers, and generally learned how to live with each other. Every Friday the history grad students would go for drinks at Alexander’s, and there we would discuss all manner of things, both important and unimportant, all the while enjoying flexing our intellectual muscles.
We eventually moved on to having house parties, and I recall very lively evenings at Jean and Ernesto’s house, one in particular that involved a delicious creme caramel. Or maybe it was creme brulee.. Delicious, regardless.
When we left Saskatoon to return to BC, we really missed the history crowd at USask, so it was nice to return and visit when Darren defended his thesis. Jean was even kind enough to watch Benno for us so that I could hear Darren’s defense. She rocked Ben to sleep in her arms. Ben now reaches her armpit.
A few years ago Ernesto got a job in Vancouver, and to our delight they moved out to the “wet coast.” We were also excited when they got pregnant, and Jean delivered a beautiful healthy baby boy named Oliver. Darren was Oliver’s first visitor in the week after they got home from the hospital. I think we have been to all his birthday parties. Oliver is a very handsome little guy, and an absolute blast to be with.
Even though we only get to see them once or twice a year, Jean, Ernesto, and Oliver are the kind of friends with whom you can just pick up where you left off. Every time Jean opens the door to their (beautifully remodeled) house in Vancouver, there is no awkwardness, no uncomfortableness, just good friends and good company.
Maybe it is because we kind of “started out” at approximately the same time. Maybe it is because we respect each other even though we sometimes approach life from different perspectives. Maybe it is because we are able to revert to the intellectual gymnastics of the seminar room when we get together, that is before we are interrupted by screaming children who are hours late for their bedtime. Regardless of the reason, I am so thankful for the ease of our friendship and the delight of their company.