I need a friend when I travel. Who comes with me? That’s a difficult choice.
There’s Quatchi and then there’s Garfy.
Quatchi, as Vancouverites will know, was one of the first-derided, then much-loved Vancouver Olympics mascots. What you don’t know, though, is that I was so broke (and got laid off before the end of the Olympics), that I couldn’t even afford to buy groceries, let alone a doll. My best friend gave Quatchi to me and, in retrospect, it was a stupidly cheap gift, being only $20 or so, especially compared to how crazy generous my friend’s been over the years, but it meant the world to me at the time. I love my Quatchi. In fact, I’m thinking of buying another so I can’t lose him on my travels.
And getting lost is the big strike against bringing Garfy, because, as much as I love Quatchi, Garfy will only ever be pried from my cold, dead hands.
He and I have been a team for 34 years now. He was there for my first-ever big travel adventure. Or rather, he was the big score during the big drama of my first big travel adventure.
The Canadian Air flight attendants were supposed to walk me off the plane to meet my uncle. I was 8 and flying alone. Only they kinda forgot that I was 8 and flying alone and somehow I booted it off the plane unsupervised. This was Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. I was 8. Did I mention I was 8? And alone? And it was a ginormous airport?
Yeah, so I started wandering around, looking at stuff. I found a gift store. There, I saw Garfy. We locked eyes and it was love at first sight. “You’re coming with me!” I thought. I forked over the cash, bought Garfy and a set of Garfield stationery. This was around 1981. I had $39. THIRTY-NINE DOLLARS. I felt rich. A 8-year-old tycoon! I was the girl version of Richie Rich! I blew over half my wad then and there.
I walked back out into the concourse area and sat down at a table to colour on my new stationery. It couldn’t have been very long after that when my Uncle Walter seemed EXTREMELY happy to see me. I felt pretty loved with such a big welcome!
Needless to say, now that I’m 41, I think his joy had more to do with the fact that I wasn’t being trafficked into the sex trade, kidnapped by some creep, or dismembered near the tarmac by some rabid baggage handler.
So, yeah, I’m kinda fond of Garfy. If I lost him on the road, I’d be devastated. But it’d be a good death, you know what I mean? If he logged some 25,000 miles of flights and then mysteriously vanished somewhere, it’d be better than, say, eating it in a flood in my friend’s basement, packed away for half a decade.
But, you know, they’re both stellar companions — good listeners, don’t talk much, photogenic, low-maintenance. I really can’t lose either way.
It’ll probably be Quatchi who comes with me. What Garfy and I have is special. Still, I’m looking for a new Quatchi doll to order so I don’t risk losing him. We only have five years together, but hey. I figure if I make it back with the New Quatchi intact, the original one can be retired, but if I don’t make it home with New Quatchi, that’s okay too, because Original Quatchi will always be enough for me.
Whatever else we’re judging, Quatchi gets higher marks than Garfy for cuddle-factor. That’s gotta be a significant factoid considering five years of solo travels loom.
“Quatchi Goes to the Coliseum.”
“Quatchi Falls for the Eiffel Tower.”
Sure. That’s working for me. Quatchi and Steff Take a Bite Out of the Globe. Adventures of the wayward Vancouverites.
And it all kicks off two months from today, when I’ll officially be homeless.
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