Saturday, August 19, 2006

Reminiscences and heartaches

It's my last day in Vancouver before heading up north again for my fourth year. I checked the weather in Whitehorse and Inuvik a little while ago, and it's raining and twelve degrees. I suppose it's fall in the North already. This summer seems oddly different from the past few. This year, I don't have quite the same anticipation that made my heart flutter the past two summers when I thought of the northern autumn. I was just looking at photos of my friends in Inuvik, and, sadly, it struck me that almost all of them had left the North. Even sadder still, I'm in touch with only about half of them. That said, I count myself extremely blessed. Many people say that to have three good friends to whom one could confide completely is enough. I certainly have more than that, and everyone has been so supportive and protective of me. They've listened to me when my heart was breaking. They've stood by me through my stupid, irrational choices. In return, I've given them pieces of myself, and have ached for their losses and heartbreaks, and shared in their excitement and laughter.

Yesterday, I spent a lovely evening with a few girls from my high school. We had gone through five years together. I remember when we used to sit on the sidewalk outside the front door and just “be.” We demanded nothing from the world except that sunny piece of cement, and the freedom to just breathe in peace. And the world granted us that readily. Then, there were all those times we all played basketball in the rain, and marched into French class a little late and completely soaked from head to toe. Or when we organized our potlucks and had the most scrumptious meals at a nearby shady field (which is now the site of brand-new condos). Those five high school years had been so innocent, so joyful, so stress-free. In my last year there, when most students from other schools were panicking over credits and university applications, I was only a part-time student (not sure if anyone really noticed), taking only five of eight blocks of classes, as I had finished some of my Grade Twelve courses the year before. The pressures of exams and assignments never got to me because I just loved being there. I'd take the two buses to school early and would sit in the foyer to read the newspaper before classes and sometimes would help fill up the water urn to make tea. Sometimes, our English and Literature classes were held under the big cherry tree on the side of the school. Often, I was off at lunch-time, and could make my way downtown to take in an afternoon matinee at the cinema. At the end of the year, when provincial exams came around, we all took things in stride. We would walk the few blocks to the “big high school” to do our English final, then stroll back together to our little haven of a school and eat the barbecued veggie-dogs that our Math/Physics/History teacher cooked up for the entire staff and student body. Then, we would sit on the little slope at the back of the school to write comments in each other's yearbooks.

Those days seem like a lifetime ago. And my heart aches a little just thinking that I could never ever reclaim those moments. Sometimes, heartache leads to transformation and catharsis. My heart ached as I stood by the ocean on the north shore of PEI last summer, on that abandoned beach. My heart aches now for beauty as well as for loss. Often, when I think that I've reached the nadir, that there's no way but up toward healing, I find that after a heart breaks, it just continues to break into infinitesimal smaller pieces.

There's no crisis at hand, no immediate loss. There's only the passing of time, propelling me forward against my will. The fall always marks a new year of school/work, another year of my life. I should count it as a blessing that my heart is aching. It's proof that I'm alive. And actually, I demand nothing from the world right now but this space to vent and breathe. And the world, as it has always done, readily grants me that.


  1. There's heartache in childhood, in innocence, in joy, and in life. My heart aches for all the good times we've had. I wouldn't want it any other way. Ray and I are very lucky to have you. You break our hearts with your sweetness.

  2. I can't decide who is sappier, you or Megan. But yes, both of you are sweet and make me laugh.