Last Friday was a local holiday; James Bay Day is a Cree holiday to commemorate the signing of the James Bay Agreement in 1975.
Since we got a long weekend, we took the day to make a 11-hour down to North Bay for a vet visit. In the process, we also busted a winter tire from a rogue rock, spent 2 hours at the Honda service centre and finally got the airbag replaced*. Two new rear winter tires cost $400.
Needless to say, it costs a lot to go on the road for the weekend. The gas, the time, hotels and unexpected expenses that pop up. Traveling with animals is also stressful for us, as well as them (although brown bunny had a fabulous time running around the carpet all night).
Yet, getting the chance to leave the village, to wander a new city, do some shopping, chat with people and eat food we didn’t make ourselves is wonderful. And really, it is priceless.
The idea of being on the native rez sounds like torture to most, but it has given me a perspective most city folk will never have. The most mundane actions have more value than if I had never moved north.
For example, I made it a point to take J. to the Lebanese restaurant for lunch, rather than the food court at the mall. I was immediately reminded of how delicious the veggie shwarma was and J. fell head over heels for the chicken shwarma. We joked that we’d go back for dinner.
Funny enough, five hours later, we ended up doing so! Given the choices of Japanese teppanyaki, Thai pad see ew, Indian Dahl mahkni, we still went back for the shwarma**. The owner was so flattered that we came back on the same day he gave us a free plate of baklava!
And we were more satisfied with our decision than anything else that could happened.
It might seem silly. It might not even make sense to the average person. You might even think I miss out on new experiences from doing so. But we are often deluded to think that having more choices will make us happier.
And yet, oddly enough, I have never felt happier ordering off a menu as a vegetarian. In my late 20s and early 30s, I now go to my favourite restaurants in Toronto, Barrie or Montreal and I simply order the same things each time. My favorite dishes never fail to disappoint me. They are consistently delicious and satisfying. I always get what I want.
If I deviate, I often leave disappointed. That’s not to say I never try anything new – having traveled to Turkey, Hawai’i, India and Florida in the past 4 years, I laugh at such a suggestion – but in the south, amongst family and friends, I generally don’t. Life is just easier when you know where the good stuff is.
*Last year, a recall was made for Honda airbags. The issue was that a deflated airbag would also eject shrapnel into the driver’s face. Oh, how very reassuring I waited 10 months for the replacement.
**J. subsequently ordered another two more to eat on the road for the drive back north.