I like dramatic post titles, so it’s likely I’ve already used this one or will use it again. Nevertheless, it is the end of an era: Varun’s sister, Vasudha, left North America this weekend to return home to India. After living in NYC for almost 3 years, she’s heading home to India to pursue graphic design in the vibrant metropolis of New Delhi.
Vasudha moved to the east coast the same month that Varun and I moved from Vancouver. Suddenly, instead of being thousands of dollars in plane tickets apart, we were a mere 8 hour drive away. We met for Labour Day/Birthdays, camping, Christmas, New Year’s…for 3 years we got to enjoy having my family and a member of Varun’s family within driving distance! During her visits to Canada, Vasudha and I baked (cheesecake, cookies, fondue, yes, sometimes we just ate chocolate bars whole), went to wineries, went shopping, and Vasudha would politely suggest aesthetic changes to our apartment (which were needed and appreciated).
When we went to New York City last weekend for one last hurrah, I felt a whole mix of emotions. We did the usual–ate copious amounts of chips and salsa while talking about family, life and faith.
On Monday, the time came to say goodbye. Of course, I had figured out how we could pack as much socializing into the day as possible. In fact, the era-ending is more dramatic than you might guess: my little brother Mark just graduated from university (WooT!) and is headed to an internship in Jordan next week. So I had the bright idea that we should all meet and say Goodbye at an Indian restaurant outside of the city. This was a great idea–except for one small problem: our car got towed.
I knew we had to move the car at 11 am on Monday, so we packed our bags, looked around Vasudha’s apartment for the last time, and went down to load up the car. Which wasn’t there. Thankfully, my Mom has an encyclopedic knowledge of all things NYC related (actually, of most things), and was happy to inform us where we could reclaim our car.
At the Tow Pound, a sign informed us that we could redeem our vehicle when I produced current registration and insurance. I nudged Varun and laughed, “Imagine if you didn’t have insurance?” This is what we call ‘tempting fate’.
Because our documents were in the car, I had to have a police escort take me to retrieve my proof. I opened the glove box and out poured straws, ketchup packets, papers, maps and a broken pair of headphones. I found the registration. I found last year’s insurance card. I tried to look nonchalant while the police officer tapped the steering wheel in impatience. OHMYGOSH WHERE IS THE INSURANCE CARD?! With a sinking feeling I remembered: the new card had come in March when I was flailing in the quagmire of school and work and ministry and life. On that fateful March day I had shoved the updated insurance information in the filing cabinet and walked away.
I took the registration and old insurance and walked back to the police car. “Stay cool”, I told Varun. “The only problem is we can’t prove we have insurance”. Oh, and it’s a National Holiday in Canada.
It turns out, insurance companies don’t answer their phones on Victoria Day, unless you’re making a claim. Thankfully, my sister answered her phone and was more than happy to create a login on our insurance site, download our proof and email it to the Tow Pound. By now, my parents had realized we wouldn’t make our lunch plans and decided to come into the city to meet us. (Yes, I have the most gracious and patient family ever.) Varun and Vasudha sat quietly in the waiting room with me and managed not to get annoyed at the 2 hour delay my double mistake had created.
Just when I thought we were good, I saw the paper my sister had emailed. When printed, it reads “This is not a valid document.” The lady behind the counter looked at me with pity. Thankfully, we had spoken French together and I had fawned over pictures of her Grandchild and told her all about my childbearing potential. Somehow, she decided to have mercy.
Finally, Varun, Vasudha and I piled into the car. Have I mentioned how gracious and calm those two are? We met my parents for lunch at 2 o’clock at a tiny cafe in a lovely neighbourhood in Brooklyn. It was one of those moments I wanted to wrap up and put in my sock drawer and keep forever. I knew that in just two weeks, Mark would leave for the Middle East, Vasudha would leave for India and who knows when we’d be together again.
As my tow-truck-sized migraine dissipated, I considered the beauty of the time we share together. These past three years with Vasudha have flown by as we’ve grown used to having her around at each holiday. Just four years ago, Mark graduated high school during the flurry of activity that was Varun and Amelia’s Wedding. I’ve been amazed to see the young man he’s become during his time in university. These two siblings are incredibly talented, hilarious, compassionate—and I can’t believe they’re moving continents away!
Monday was a little picture of life–sometimes unexpected things happen, but none of that matters when you have loved ones who will hail cabs and loan cell phones and wait patiently in Tow Pounds, who will give directions when you’re smart-phone-less, and drive into NYC to buy you lunch at a moment’s notice.
I will miss both Mark and Vasudha so much, but I’m excited to see where God leads them and the amazing things they’ll do in the future. And, it gives Varun and I an excuse to visit dear ones in the Middle East and South Asia!