Pete’s home; I am once again adjusting to coupledom, coupleness, being coupled (which sounds like something from the nature channel), whatever the term may be these days.
I don’t understand how it is that Pete drives into the yard and walks into the house and acts as though he’s never been away while I am discombobulated for the first few days of his return.
Part of it could be put down to the anxiety I feel just before he gets here, brought about by the knowledge I am going to have to tell him of a dented vehicle or broken window or whatever other small domestic disturbance has occurred during his absence.
When I confided this to him he assured me my feelings of anxiety could not be a patch on his.
In the interest of strengthening the couple bond by creating shared activities Pete has come up with the idea of us going on a holiday — a holiday with a purpose, an activity.
“We could take a course in something, something neither of us has done.” It was the morning after he’d arrived home and I could tell he’d been putting a lot of thought into this idea while at camp.
“Why am I getting the impression you’ve already decided what this something is going to be?”
I responded suspiciously, joining him at the table with my second cup of tea.
“OK, come out to the truck; I want to show you something.” Pete jumped up and led the way into the yard, me following, grumbling a little (it was 10 in the morning, for godssake) with my tea mug slopping hot beverage over my hand.
By the time I’d reached the back of the truck, Pete was leaning far under the canopy, wrestling something large, dark and cumbersome from the depths.
“A guy at camp sold them to me” he told me, his voice climbing with excitement as he displayed what looked to me like the bottom half of an overweight ballerina, or the Michelin man.
“Does the other one look like this?” I asked, poking gingerly at the inflated tutu/doughnut from which hung suspended an empty set of humanoid-looking legs made of rubber. I was imagining the other one must be the top half.
“Of course” Pete said, looking at me strangely.
“I was thinking this’ll help you get over your fear of water” he went on, grabbing the thing by some straps and hoisting it in the air, where it hung looking impossibly weird and unknowable.
I reared back, aghast. “Water? It goes in the water?”
As I stared, the bizarre apparatus revealed its sinister purpose.
“Are you telling me it’s my legs you think are going into those?” I pointed at the long tubes which I could now see ended in feet. “And then what? We put out to sea with ‘honey and plenty of money wrapped up in a five pound note’? Are you nuts?”
“Heather, you don’t go to sea. It’s for fishing. You get in it and go into a little creek, or the shallow part of a lake. It keeps you afloat while you fly fish.”
Pete’s voice was soothing as he stroked my arm — exactly like you do when you’re gentling a nervous horse, Uma.
“Let me get this straight, Pete.” I pulled away.
“There is actually a place where people go especially to use these things? And you want me to go there with you and both of us get into these, these — what the hell are these things, anyway? — and go into water and catch flies? This is going to be something requiring a learning curve, a course, and it’s going to bring us closer together?”
I stopped to draw breath.
“Why didn’t you buy one we could get into together then? A tandem, or a side-by-side model? Oh, I get it! There’s no such thing; we might hurt each other as we’re busy catching flies from the water. What do you and the guys you work with do in your spare time at camp anyway? See who can come up with the most grotesque ideas of fun?”
At this point Pete reminded me of our resolution to have our more intense discussions indoors.
As I headed into the house, I was remembering Canon 1095. Pete and I were married in the Catholic Church, and like a good research writer, I’d done some homework on the organization.
Canon 1095 gave a list of reasons whereupon a marriage may be annulled: instability, stubbornness, excessive independence, despotic authoritarianism, exaggerated self-worship, and narcissism to name a few.
There was also light-mindedness, superficiality, lack of common sense, and incompatibility. I’d mentally checked at least four by the time we were seated once again at the kitchen table, and was congratulating myself on my foresight in agreeing to marry into a church that was so humane in its views on marriage.
The sight of Pete’s woebegone face softened me, however; he’s very cute when he’s disappointed, and I was beginning to feel petty and mean — not my favourite way of experiencing myself.
Before I could mutter an apology, he said, “Just check it out, OK? Go online and look at the place; it’s called the Silver King Lodge. It’s on Vancouver Island. Here’s some pictures of people fly fishing.”
He tossed a small pile of magazines on the table, fully aware of my propensity for all things printed.
“We’ve talked about going to the Island for ages; the lodge is in the Campbell River area.” He added a colourful brochure to the pile.
“There’s a spa,” he said, seductively, playing on another well-known weakness.
“I’ll look,” I agreed, picking up one of the magazines and flipping through page after page featuring smiling, very healthy-looking people in beautiful scenery.
Outdoors, wearing hats adorned with what must be the flies, surrounded by soaring mountains and sparkling rivers, they were featured holding up a large fish in one hand and clutching a long thin pole in the other.
Indoors, now garbed in smart, expensive-looking clothes, they were seen in luxuriously appointed rooms seated at tables laden with food and wine, holding a knife in one hand and a fork in the other.
I was beginning to think this vacation had possibilities; I could read, eat and drink and Pete could wear the peculiar pantaloons and catch flies and in the evening we could get together to eat and drink.
Sensing my interest, Pete quickly got in a description of the art and beauty of fly fishing. He told me how this hobby would add a whole new dimension to our travelling.
He reminded me of how many lakes and rivers there are in Yukon; fly fishing would increase our pleasure in living here.
I wouldn’t even really have to get into the water, not at first; I could practise on dry land, and then no nearer to the actual water than I’d been at the hot springs. I would not have to wear my new rubber half-suit — not until the lure of the fish overpowered me, which he was confident would be in a very short time.
I was persuaded, and a good thing I was as Pete’d already booked us at the Silver King Lodge. We leave for Whitehorse tomorrow morning and fly out to Vancouver the next day.
My next e-mail to you will be from Campbell River, Uma, where I will be catching not flies, but fish who like flies.
Pete assures me fly fishing is not unduly demanding, in a physical sense, and knowing I will not be required to insert myself into the rubber hose makes this all the more palatable.
Also, I love to eat fish. Really, who could ask for a better holiday?
It was with some reluctance, though, that I gave up my ideas of short courses to take.
In my catalogue there was Dealing With Post Realization Depression, The Primal Shrug, or How to Overcome Self Doubt Through Pretense and Ostentation.
If one was not interested in self improvement there were the business and career courses How to Profit From Your Body or The Underachiever’s Guide to Very Small Business Opportunities.
In another category, Health, one could sign up for High-Fibre Sex or Tap Dance Your Way to Social Ridicule. The Craft section offered How to Draw Genitalia or Bonsai Your Pet.
Oh! The things we give up for love!
I’m going to Hougen’s to buy a hat on which to pin trophy flies.
Heather Bennett is a writer who lives in Watson Lake.