Travel is much like music. If you go to a specific spot with the same person over and over again, you will associate that spot with that person. If that person is no longer in your life, it may hurt too much to go there (or hear that song as it may be) as it reminds you of when times were good with them. Sometimes, when we have enough distance from the part of the relationship that became bad, we can remember the parts that were good without the baggage attached to it. And today, that’s what I did. I took a road trip that I had taken with my ex many, many times, for the first time alone. And I feel so much better for it. My theme song for this trip is Edge of a Broken Heart, by Vixen.
First, some background. Some years ago, I was listening to a radio show where a psychiatrist was talking about relationships (okay, it was actually the pilot episode of the TV show Fraser Crane) where the talk show host, well, Fraser Crane, mentioned that in a break-up it isn’t the person we miss but the traditions the couple had created while together.
I’ve only ever had one relationship end where I felt sadness and regret rather than relief and joy. My first instinct was to bury the memories, forget the relationship, and move on. Truth is, she and I were not very kind to one another the last few months we were together. However, having some years pass has taught me that the break-up needed to happen in order for her and I to live the lives that would ultimately make us happy. She’s doing what she loves, and so am I. But neither of us would be if we had stayed together. That would have been a tragedy. I’ve also learned that when you’ve spent a significant amount of time with someone, and most of that time was great, it doesn’t make sense to forget it.
If Fraser Crane was right and what makes us sad is the loss of the traditions, then it seems to me that to stay happy we must continue those traditions we miss. (And yes, I do realize I am taking advice from a fictional psychiatrist.) One of my favourite traditions that I did with my ex-significant other, was to travel to small towns and discover cool cafes or shops or parks or people. (Thus, my goal to road trip every weekend.) For the first year and a half after the break-up, I couldn’t travel anymore without getting solemn. Last year I broke the travel-fast and took a few trips, but each time I did it was with the ghost of relationship past in the passenger seat next to me.
Welcome to a special episode of James in His Jeep Getting Java – the healing edition where I travel to Lynden, WA, a town of just under 13 thousand. It was originally a dutch settlement, and still clings to much of its roots.
The road there is picturesque with farms and tree-lined roads. No matter the season, it’s breathtaking. This time a farmer was burning stuff. It was a HUGE pyre the size of his barn, in the middle of his field. I’d forgotten to take my good camera, so all photos were taken with an iPhone 4S (terrible camera) and I couldn’t quite capture the majesty of it.
A few of my favourite places to visit here are the local shops, starting with the mall attached to the inn with the awesome windmill. The Dutch Village Inn is attached to a quaint indoors mall with shops and apparently a theatre plays there in the summer.
The first few times I’d been to Lynden, Heroes Resources was tiny and was never open when I was there. Then one fateful day in 2012, lo and behold it was open and I was able to check it out. I bought a “Dr. Who meets Star Trek Deep Space Nine” comic for my pals Sarah and Rob. Now, four years later, it’s bustling with activity and is twice the space. The staff were friendly (not pushy at all) and they even gave me the number of a local (to Lynden) guy that makes custom chain mail armour. They have game rooms where people of all ages were playing Magic: the Gathering, and by eavesdropping on customer queries it was obvious that the staff are very knowledgeable of the gaming world. When the Canadian dollar rises, they will be taking some of my money.
Lynden has public restrooms. This may seem like a silly thing to consider a favourite place, but when you are travelling it is important to have a clean, well cared for place to do your business. Bravo, Lynden.
Below is the Lynden Pioneer Museum, which has three levels. It’s filled with thousands (I think the curator said 50 thousand) artefacts (and the library tech in me marvelled at what it would take to catalogue and track them all). The first floor is the town’s history, the basement is filled with buggies, and the third has a replication of the original downtown Lynden. This was my first time in here.
My first java stop was the Lynden Dutch Bakery. They are a bustling bakery that serves light meals as well as baked goods. I had a breakfast sandwich and cappuccino. In times past when I came here, it was for their apple pies. Later in the day I had returned for said pie, but they were so busy (it had started drizzling) that I chose to save it for next time. This is my favourite spot, but be warned: if you need WiFi, theirs is spotty and hardly operational. (Thus, I had to choose a second place on my trip to check in on my school work.) Take a book, or better yet bring someone to chat with.
But do try them out. Their staff is friendly, and it’s kind of amazing to watch the locals greet one another. Such a nice community!
A few random photos below. I did find a post office, a library, and a museum — but no clock. Every hour I heard clock chimes, so I’m convinced there must be a clock there. However, I could not find one.
Below is Lynden City Park, which during the winter kind of reminded me of a spooky zombieapocalypse movie. (So, yes, I thought it was cool.) I’m betting in the summer when everything blooms, it’s a great place to walk. And when it warms up, I’ll let you know. The play area for kids looks amazing. It’s a replica of a town!
On my way home, I stopped in at Woods Coffee House for one last java and to use their WiFi. While there I bought a growler of coffee (which I’d only ever heard of in legend through friends) and decided to take that home with me. It was a nice souvenir of the day.
And that was my day in Lynden. Considering how many times I had attempted to return there, only to change my mind at the last minute, I must say that I am glad I went. Fraser Crane is a wise man, and he was indeed correct when he stated that what we feel sadness for are the rituals that we have lost. Today I reclaimed a ritual that I had lost, and now I feel as though I can remember a significant relationship for its good times, instead of the final few months where it fell apart. Travel heals.