We were beat tired.
Tired like the punchlines from her kid sister’s joke book.
The two of us, dad and daughter. We’d completely run out of steam.
After a long night and early morning of driving…
After 75 minutes of hurling ourselves around a frozen curling court…
After hours spent traipsing all over Canada’s cosmopolitan capital city on foot…
We straight up ditched our plans to trek across Ottawa for a haute dinner of local fare. That’s what we’d usually do. We’d find a neighborhood joint, we’d assimilate. Like we did at the Indian place for a mid-day snack of veggie samosas.
Instead, in Ottawa, her and I, we walked 6 blocks roundtrip from the majestic condo she found on HomeAway and booked, to a grocery store called Loblaws, which for some unknowable reason made us laugh hysterically. We were punchdrunk then but it’s still funny now.
The modest distance seemed 4x as extreme to our tired bodies and we questioned our decision making with every step and with each gust of cool Canadian evening air that smacked into us there on the sidewalk, our faces and exposed arms bearing the brunt of the assault.
In Loblaws (hehe) we grabbed a favorite frozen pizza that frustratingly cannot be tracked down any longer back at home in the States. A half gallon of chocolate chip mint ice cream was pulled from the freezer cases too, so that we could put the bright yellow parfait cups we’d spied in the cupboard to really, really good use with the Girl Guide sandwich cookies our Ottawatian friends had gifted us earlier in the day.
[Ottawatian is the term the Bear coined to call the good people, shops, and food of Ottawa. That’s still funny too.]
While the royal blue commercial grade gas oven heated up beneath the intimating 6-burner stove top and as cubes of ice clinked into glasses from the polished steel refrigerator dispenser, she went down a step into her bedroom and turned the TV on to search for the Red Wings game. I figured it’d be broadcast here because they were at home against the Canadians. And we were in Canada, so…
After we scarfed down the four cheese pie — it was gone in 60 seconds like a Nick Cage flick — and after we looked at each other to bemoan only buying a single pizza, she asked if I’d lie down next to her on her bed to watch some of the game and if, before falling asleep, we could look at and edit the photos we’d each taken during the day.
The volume on the game was reduced to a whisper and the house was otherwise still and silent. The oven off, the fridge restocking its ice supply in quiet.
There we lied, dad and daughter, side by side atop the quilted white throw of a regal double bed in the back room of a fanciful condo in downtown Ottawa.
We took turns remembering the drunk guy who sang a sketchy rendition of some golden oldie tune to us as we passed through ByWard Market, the beaver we saw swimming happily among the stray vegetation and floating garbage locked into the locks of the canal, the too-loud American tourist who asked one inane question after the next during the 12:30 P.M. tour of parliament, and the vegetarian lunch spot she found that was aces.
She’d tinker with the clarity and tweak the highlights, passing her phone to me for, not approval, but to politely flaunt her deft touch in the ways of the Snapseed. I’d smile, lean over to kiss her forehead and tell her how much I liked her edits. Not yet satisfied, she goes on to make a few more minuscule but essential-for-her adjustments before posting on her Instagram. She’s definitely my kid.
There’s no mention of this kind of quiet scene in the parenting books lining shelves in Barnes & Noble. This isn’t a typical milestone to commemorate with a diploma, a Picture People glossy photo, or backyard moonbounce party.
No one says, “wait until you guys edit photos together on your phones in a condo in Canada” upon becoming a parent.
A dad and daughter editing photos elbow to elbow on top of a bed in a foreign city is one of a million magnificent moments in miniature in the life of a parent and child that occur without any build-up. There’s no bloated pre-game show for something like this.
These occasions just happen.
They are happening all of the time.
In your backyard, out in the garage, in the freezer section of a grocery store with a funny name, trying to learn to curl, over vegetarian fare at a neighborhood cafe, while scurrying past drunken singers, as you share a local pastry treat, while sitting in oversized red Adirondack chairs looking out over ice chunks shifting in the water at the foot of parliament hill, with phones in hand atop beds in fancy Ottawatian condos.
This was the first dad and daughter trip that was planned and booked entirely by one of my girls. The 2nd, with my youngest, is a couple of weeks away now. With any luck, we’ll have a few unexpected moments of bliss as we hike in Virginia, tour Monticello and watch a USL soccer match together, just a dad and a daughter making memories.