A delayed midnight arrival at Edmonton International is enlivened by a closed car-rental counter; the next day is enlivened by meeting a granddaughter for the first time.
Why are you here?
It’s midnight local time, or oh-two-hundred body time, explaining and maybe even excusing my slightly dazed look. Having recovered my suitcase from the baggage roulette wheel, I have made my way to the rental-car company counter to pick up my reserved vehicle, only to find said counter closed. In my less-than-sharp state, I taste panic. How will I get into town? It takes me a few seconds to remember about taxis: to track that I am not, in fact, stranded at Edmonton International Airport for the night.
As other victims of the same delayed flight and cavalierly closed counter fidget in line behind me, I deal with Another Rental-Car Company in the person of a pleasant and helpful young man who is still on the job. While he fills in enough paperwork to obtain regulatory approval to build a nuclear reactor in a seismic fault zone, we chit chat. Having discussed the price and kind of vehicle he has available for a surprise customer at midnight, we’ve moved on to the default Canadian conversational topic. No, not hockey: more basic even than that. The weather.
After several nice weeks by Edmonton-in-February/March standards, the weather has taken a turn, which can only be for the worse. Cold. Snowy. Windy. The winter trifecta. And it is this knowledge—that his city is not really welcoming to visitors at the moment—that has prompted his question.
Why are you here?
As I gather up my copies of the endless paperwork and my bags, I smile.
I’m meeting my new granddaughter.
He smiles in turn. A good reason, then.
‘Granddaughter’ is a word for what seems to be a simple concept: the daughter of one’s son or daughter. Some concepts are not so simple: ‘parent’, for example, which is inextricably bound up with the notion of a son/daughter. How can one word contain the delight, terror, joy, sadness, pride, regret, amusement, impatience, tenderness, frustration, hope, and fear that is being a parent, now and forever?
Yet even the seemingly simple ‘granddaughter’ speaks of continuity, fragility, cuteness, and bounce, with the blend depending on one’s preconceptions. But no set of preconceptions can adequately capture the child actually conceived. And so it is that, nine hours after I leave the rental-car counter in a fatigue-induced daze, I sit in a daze again as ‘granddaughter’—abstract and impersonal—becomes not-quite eight pounds of arm-flailing, eyes-not-yet-focusing, snerfling, and entirely beautiful baby, placed carefully in my out-of-practice arms.
Thus does the word become flesh.
Persephone. I smile. It’s nice to meet you.