What a long week it has been. I relax in my own comfy chair next to an open window in the corner of my living room. I watch the tiny movements of the maple leaves and listen to the traffic on Granville and beyond. The chirp that accompanies pedestrian crossings on either end of my block. This feels like the first moment of stillness in months, but we only arrived on Tuesday.
I’m surrounded by boxes after four days of a near empty apartment. We had a miscommunication with the moving company; our stuff was not delivered when we had expected, so we had to make do with what we had crammed in the car and what our new building manager was kind enough to lend us. Sleeping on an air mattress notwithstanding, it was nice to get to know our new living space without our possessions.
The building is old . A little run down, but comfortable. Charming and colourful and compact without feeling cramped. A nice change after the soulless townhouse in Edmonton. Oh, it was a decent place to live for the time we were there, but it had no mystery. This place already feels like it wants to be home.
It has been a week of motion. By car, by bike, on foot. I’ve walked kilometres this week. In sun and shade and cloud. Walked down to surprise tall ships off Kitsilano Beach. To an excellent sushi place. To Granville Island. Up and down the shops near our place. Re-learning my feet.
Tomorrow, I start work. I don’t know if the ordinary style of permanence that a job gives life will tip me into the reality of my situation. Because it still feels like I’m just visiting. Even though everything I own in the world is here. I’m not really here yet. Because if I’m really here, almost everyone I want to share this adventure with is too far away. And I’m not ready for that.
I sit in a hotel. In Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. A frontier of sorts. An edge to something, though I haven’t discovered what yet. A hub, perhaps. I arrived in darkness. December, north of 60, couldn’t be elsewise. But something about this darkness is thrilling. I am in the centre, and this city is so quiet. The hush and hug of these particular mountains squeeze me into less silent shapes. So now I want to talk. I want to tell you everything. Who I am, why I’m here (even though you will always look confused when I try to explain), why the intangible pieces of me are fluttering through my skin.
I think it started with the unlikely chickadee that perched on the suspended TV screen at Gate 18 and warbled and chirped to itself. I watched it, wondering where it came in, where it would go, whether it felt lost and alone or just alone. I don’t know what chickadees do when they’re alone.
From then, I wanted to be open in some way. To connect excitement with words in intricate patterns across two minds. And so, I declined the solitary cab and hopped on a hotel shuttle. Rewarded with a woman from Argentina, in Canada on a post-secondary student exchange, and determined to see as much of Canada as budget would allow before going home. She has never seen the northern lights, and so the clouds will clear one night for her. She said. And I hope. When we reached my hotel, we were the only two passengers left. She sent me air kisses, and we wished each other northern adventure.
I’m unafraid of this town. Though clearly, I’m not from around these parts. They can tell. I am quiet and I read The English Patient over my hotel bar & grill supper. I order lemon tea, and I am far away from whatever I didn’t want to talk about. I contemplate conversations with strangers, but rarely lift my eyes from the page.
Winter arrived all in one shot yesterday . A load of snow and plunging temperatures. Out come the goose-down parka and the serious winter boots — the ones that tromp through snow drifts while you laugh at fools with just ankle boots.
I am delighted.
Delighted doesn’t quite capture it.
I am gleeful. Elated. Kid-on-Christmas-morning out of my mind.
I’ve driven on the roads that have yet to be cleared. I’ve had to be pushed onto the road by a stranger. I’ve had to forward-reverse-forward-upshift-reverse-forward on several occasions times. Getting anywhere takes that tiny bit longer that seems to make other people cranky. None of that touches this vibration of excitement. This is how all Decembers should be.
The distance between home and home is 7,300 kilometres (give or take), and miles morph into minutes en route to hours per heartbeat. Chronology blurs and winds like the road at the top of a canyon during a rainstorm. Seconds cascade in silt-saturated rivulets over sandstone outcrops. Halfway has no meaning. Our breath takes its place in shape of lithology. We have raced across landscapes to arrive in this evening with grasshoppers scraping monumental sonatas.