Growing up, I wasn't allowed to go to friends' houses. I could bring as many friends as I wanted, but I had to be home. That's how my parents rolled. They didn't even let me go on school trips. In high school they allowed me a few field trips near by, but there was a lot of negotiating involved. Yes, they were control freaks, and wanted to know where I was. I was trained like a dog. My dad would whistle and I would come running - no joke!
Many people had told me that flights within Europe were cheap, or at least way more affordable than flying from Montréal. It is if you're not in Bodø. Nothing flies out directly from Bodø. We have to have an extra stop, we have to go through Oslo. That extra little hop, since it is only about one hour and thirty minutes by plane, changes the price of a cheap flight.
When it was decided that I would be going to Grenoble, and that my flight was booked. I've asked the organizers of the meet if they had more details, other than a date and town, so that I could book a room, etc. The people attending the meet are mostly people with whom I've chatted and exchanged postcards. Many of them I have no idea what they even look like. We're postal friends. One member sent me a message and offered me to stay at her place. Then another member offered too. I was surprised by the kindness, because they don't know me either, and wondered what to do. I've accepted one of the invitation and just like that I was going to Grenoble and was going to stay with someone I have never seen before - oh, my father must be shaking in his urn!
It does feel a little strange to me when I think about it: I'll be traveling by myself (and a bitch of a path to get there: Bodø, Oslo, Frankfurt, Lyon) and then be picked up by someone I don't even know nor what she looks like and spend two nights at her place is really foreign...
When I started training in karate, back in 1984, I also became good friend with one of the few girl also training and around my age. We trained hard together, we would also socialized some, we were friends. We were not BFF, but we shared a common passion and friends. We did some fun stuff together, like karate demonstrations on local TV shows, we even did a self-defense series. We had legs and knew how to use them. We've passed our black belts together, and celebrated it as well.
Time went on, I kept training and she slowed down some, and like with many friendships time had its toll on us. We slowly lost touch. We would see each other on occasion, for a celebration or a karate event. We would chit-chat, catch up quickly and that would be it. Nothing ever really happened, we just went our separate ways. I met someone, she did too. Had kids. Not me. We just grew apart.
Two years ago we found ourselves on Bacefook. We've done like so many others, wrote each others a few times, and once in a while comment on something one
Yesterday she contacted me, through Bacefook, letting me know about this kid she knew traveling in Norway who would be coming through Bodø, and asked if we could put him up for two nights. Given that we have an extra room, I had no objection, but would have to talk with the husband. I don't know if it's because he was an only child, but unlike me (who's also one of a kind) he tends to have this knee jerk reaction when asked to share, host or anything of the sort. I see it as: "could be fun" and I think he sees it as: "what problem is this going to bring me?". Now, think about it: what are the odds that this kid would end up in Bodø, Norway, of all places, knows this person I knew almost thirty years ago, who contacts me to put him up?
Tomorrow morning, we will meet this young man, and will welcome him to our humble apartment in Bodø, closing this circle that I've opened by accepting an invitation from a complete stranger to stay at her place. It is my way of giving back, by having this complete stranger stay with us for a weekend.