I met Carmen Ahiers so long ago I cant remember where or why we met. All I know is that as a new arrival in Whistler, suddenly I had a new friend. Carmen would phone me for coffee at Nesters, or sometimes wed meet at the old Cookie Co in Sundial Square. It was 1991 or 1992.
Often wed spot each other on the highway and wave, a familiar scene for anyone living in a small town. We each drove really old Volvos at that time, so it was easy to spot each other.
In those days, Carmen lived in a little tumbledown shack in White Gold. It was nothing to look at on the outside, but it was very warm and cozy on the inside. There were always interesting people hanging around that house, and Carmen could usually be found working in her little garden around back, or making fleece clothes, or cooking a healthy meal. It was a great drop-in spot.
Carmen took people in. Most years she would host a Christmas Dinner at her little house for her orphaned friends. I usually went home to visit my parents, but she never failed to invite me. Ive seen the photos and heard the stories; they must have been incredible parties. She would prepare dinners for 20 people in that little place.
Carmen became a bigger part of my life when we started sharing an office in Function. I was tired of working out of my cramped little studio apartment, and she had just rented a huge office, which she offered to share with me. We were strange bedfellows in that office, she was sewing her fleece creations and running her phone card business, and I was fixing and selling computers. I cant remember how many times my customers, carrying computers, would march straight past the door because Carmens operations just didnt seem very computer-ish. Id have to call out to them with reassurances that they had the right place, and then theyd have to step over little piles of fleece clippings and past racks of hats and vests. I still have two of those NEMRAC vests in my wardrobe, custom made.
I remember those as really good days. Our businesses grew and we shared many laughs together. We had that office for two years, and then circumstances changed and our businesses evolved and separated. We both bought places. We upgraded our cars. Carmen moved to Pemberton and settled into her new condo and started to build her dream house at Lillooet Lake.
Although we didnt see each other daily any more, we never lost touch. Carmen was a customer, and we continued to socialize; we saw each other, either for business or pleasure, probably a dozen times a year. We continued to wave at each other on the highway. She always invited me to her get-togethers, whether at her Pemby house or her property on the lake. I was always amazed at the number and diversity of her friends.