Holidaying Part One

The Fourth Street Elevator, Dubuque

Holidaying in my hometown has the potential for the makings of a real holiday that it never has realized.  Spring Break was not much of an exception.  There were a few break-out moments when I corralled the husband, kids and extended family and forced vacation on them, but for the most part it was a family style slog through obligation.

We drove. It’s crazy when time is a factor. With only nine days to play with, 26 hours one way means more time is spent on the road than at the destination. However, multiple stops made flying even less practical and more expensive than it usually is. Time is squandered road-tripping but cash is conserved and it meant we could master our own destiny and tailor it to suit.

Red River encroaching the highway near Grand Forks

I don’t mind driving like I do flying. Nearly every aspect of air travel chafes from the anal probing security measures that stem more from paranoia than reality to being trapped in a system that increasingly fails to spit one out at the correct destinations on time.  I prefer time suck trekking on the road to being meat.

The Canadian leg of the journey was typical Great White North. Canadians just don’t get service. Not that this is a bad thing. Nothing wrong with misunderstanding the purpose of catering to a public that increasingly exhibits entitlement characteristics that exceed the bounds of reasonable by a wide margin.  However, taking people’s money demands some sort of quid pro quo and for the most part, Canadians are quick to take payment and pretty reluctant to provide much of a return on exchange.

Minneapolis was comfy consumerism on a scale I don’t experience anymore.  Canadians like to look down their noses at the buyer’s market below the border, dismissing the soullessness of the buy/sell focus, but I think it’s because they realize deep down that what we have up here is bush league in comparison.  Better to take imaginary high ground than to concede inferiority.

Hampton Inn, Panera Bread and a stroll though a sporting goods store to outfit Dee for the upcoming soccer season followed by a relaxing dip in a near empty to pool before heading to Iowa the next day marked the first day back in the States.

And then there was Target.

We have nothing that even approaches Target in Canada.  Aside from the Hy-Vee grocery chain, the only shopping I truly miss is Target.  One of the reasons I seldom shop anymore is that nothing compares to the quality, price and ease of the shopping experience of Target that I can barely be bothered anymore.

The few stores that are of U.S. quality here are invariably so picked over, or simply understocked, that the effort and time involved in driving to where they are and fighting the clusterfuck traffic/parking makes the process itself too tiring to invest in.

That sounds like whining, doesn’t it?

Well, it is. I have my moments too.

Most of the time, I don’t think much about it.  Canada is Canada and the States are down there somewhere with a life I don’t live anymore, but trips back starkly remind me that maintenance aspects of life – like groceries and keeping a growing child properly out-fitted – were easier once. Convenience?
Thy name is not Canada.

I chuckle a little when I hear people waxing poetic about some shopping experience or other that they’ve had in Edmonton because back in my little hometown in Iowa my mother and sister are moaning about a dearth of retail that vastly exceeds it.

We were supposed to drive down to the big regional mall near Iowa City on Wednesday, but a family “issue” prevented it, so the three of us tooled about Dubuque. I was in heaven. It was awesome. Well-stocked stores with clerks about falling over each other pursuing individual missions of helpfulness. Mom and DNOS were bored and disappointed.

Because we got into Des Moines early and Dee declined to visit Will’s grave*, we stopped at the SuperTarget on Civic Mills, which is near our old house, to out-fit Dee. She’s outgrown just about everything from last summer and fall. I know what you are thinking. She’s nearly eight, so of course she’s gotten big. Growing like a weed from one season to the next is a fairly new phenomena for her. She’s never been a child whose age matched her pant size and it’s unlikely that her waistline will ever exceed her age either. It’s only this last year that she’s had growth spurts that have rendered the contents of her closet obsolete overnight.

The children’s clothing section at Target is a smorgasbord. Quality. Durable. And stinking cute stuff. The added plus of Target is that it strives to be a one-stop, so Rob rambled from department to department and would return periodically to dump acquisitions in the cart.

I got skunked. That is typical of trips down south. I focus on replenishing for Dee and Rob and invariably run out of time for myself.

After Target, we found still more time on our hands because my BFF was still finishing up her errands, so we went to wait for her at the park down the block from our old house on 53rd Place.

The weather was on the verge of going early spring freak heat wave. Dee recognized the park after a moment or two and reacquainted herself and Rob and I sunned ourselves on a bench.

There was a young couple there with a wobbly toddler. The man looked familiar and I could tell he thought he recognized me too though we never spoke. I watched them a bit until it occurred to me that they were the newlyweds who bought my house three years ago.

I was pleased when the house sold to a couple starting out in life and it was satisfying to see that life is well and forward moving for them. It’s affirming. I like affirmation. More than I like Target and I like Target a lot.

* I asked her over breakfast that morning if she wanted to go to the cemetery to see her dad’s stone and she shook her head no whispering, “It makes me cry.” I am perfectly okay with us dispensing of the ritual until/if she decides to revisit it. She is seven and she is happy with her life as it stands. In the last month she has taken to calling Rob just “Dad” or “Daddy”. She really doesn’t remember Will at all and his will not be the imprint that influences who she grows up to be. She may someday want to visit Will’s grave and she might never. I am not going to have a cow about it in any event.

Will deeply resented his own mother’s glorification of his late father. He felt obligated to mourn a man he really didn’t know as though her grief should be his as well. He would understand Dee’s feelings and approve.

7 responses to “Holidaying Part One

  1. Tar-ghzay is one of my favorites, too. Fortunately, it’s a 45 minute bus trip across town, or I would spend way too much money there.
    The only bit of Canada I’ve seen is Vancouver, and we used to go up there and shop at London Drugs when the dollar exchange was in our favor. I didn’t find the retail there much different than what was available in the States.

  2. the river at the roadside would have freaked me out. mother nature literally lapping at your heels…

    i despise shopping, retail therapy, recreational mall excursions and all that goes with it. but i love Target. i have no idea what it is, but on the rare occasions when i feel compelled to just look at ‘stuff’, that’s where i end up.

    can you get “Target.com”? probably not the same as the ‘wandering’, but i’ve found their website ok…

  3. I like shopping too. I’m rare that way; I don’t know if I could handle having my selections and service reduced any further.

    I hope you enjoyed your trip. 🙂 I like travel by car much more than by plane too. 🙂

  4. One summer, many years ago, I took my eight year-old daughter and six year-old son on vacation. It had been cool in Maine, so we headed south with the previous summer’s clothes without trying them on. Our first stop on vacation was a K-Mart so I could get the kids clothes that fit. Those were the days before Target, which I like but have to be in the right frame of mind to visit or I get overwhelmed.

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