Thursday, February 01, 2007

Taking stock

The new year is one-twelfth over. I dislike time passing so quickly sometimes. There are some decisions that I must make soon, and I'm not ready. I need to think about where I'll be next fall, whether the north will continue to be my home. For now, it's almost impossible to think of moving. I loathe that initial time of adjusting to a new place. And, I'm always afraid of not finding myself a niche, and filling up with regret. However, when I think about it, I have never regretted any monumental changes in my life. Often, I still think about what life might be like for me if I had travelled down a different road, such as if I had moved to Ottawa instead of coming up north. But then, I would not have met my “Inuvik family,” my wonderful boyfriend, or my students, all of whom have branded themselves into my flesh and seeped into my bloodstream. I can't imagine life without them. With each new change come new opportunities, but always accompanied by loss as well. My new social circle here has flourished at the expense of my old social circle. In theory, I realize that it doesn't have to be this way, that despite physical distance, my old friendships could have retained their intimacy. But, the e-mails and phone calls sometimes make me miss my friends even more; it's as though we try too hard to make each other understand where we're at, but try as we may, the words cannot evoke an accurate picture.

My greatest fear in life, I suppose, is losing those that I have now. I've said it before, but it really tops everything. More than the fear of never finding my passion in life, or never realizing a dream. Perhaps even more than the fear of dying.

I just went out for supper with a dear friend. I was just having one of those days – you know, the restless kind where nothing really goes wrong, but where you still have a strange weight on your chest. My friends seem to sense those days in me, and always call on the right evenings to go out for a mini venting session.

On my way home, I picked up Up Here magazine. The feature article was “Thirty-Seven Things You Need to Do in the North Before You Die.” Here are the ones I've done:

#6. Let 20 people fling you in the air: I've been tossed in the air in the traditional blanket toss. A truly terrifying experience, I must say, to depend on strangers to catch you.

#8. Watch the summer sun not set: The twenty-four hour daylight is my favourite thing in the north. I just feel energized all the time in the summer. I love going out in the middle of the “night,” say, at 3 am, and it would be broad daylight, and I'd have all the streets to myself.

#12. Let the music festivals move you: I simply adored Folk On The Rocks in Yellowknife two years ago. There were traditional throat-singers, a child prodigy on classical guitar, and various folk bands.

#15. Road-trip the Dempster Highway: I've actually only driven about halfway down the Dempster. I've gone as far south as the Arctic Circle. It's mind-boggling to think that I have to drive south to get to the Arctic Circle.

#19. Decide whether the Northern Lights really do crackle: The northern lights always seem so spiritual to me. There's a magic about them that I can't describe. I have never heard them “crackle,” but I swear that they are spirits who watch over us. As scientifically-minded and curious as I am, I never want to fully understand how the lights come about. (Yes, I have the basic idea, but I'm still not fully believing it.)

#21. Eat like a miner at the Wildcat Cafe: I've had a beautiful brunch at that little log cabin in Yellowknife. I had eggs Benedict with lovely smoked char.

#25. Chill out at forty below: Forty-below is really not uncommon. During my first winter up here, we had long stretches of forty-below weather, even into May. Since then, the winters have gotten milder – global warming perhaps? (Scary if that's what it is, because it's very noticeably warmer this winter.)

#27. Post a sign in the Watson Lake signpost forest: Okay, so I haven't actually done that, but I have been to Watson Lake and have taken pictures of the signpost forest. Next time I go through that way, I'll have a sign ready. I have no idea what it would say though.

#28. Eat muktuk: That's strips of whale skin and blubber. In fact, I have some in my freezer right now. Just don't tell anyone, because as a non-aboriginal, I'm not legally supposed to be in possession of any.

#31. Mush: Did dog-mushing just before Christmas. An experience not to be missed indeed. So exhilarating – I felt my heart grow bigger, and felt braver.

#34. Get purple knees from berry picking: I've gone berry-picking many, many times through the years. My freezer has cranberries, blueberries, and akpiks (yellow cloudberries, my favourites). Too bad I don't bake.

So, that's not bad for my northern experiences.... Eleven down, twenty-six to go. Yes, the year is one-twelfth over, and I feel the need to step back and take stock of my life. I suppose, all things considered, I'm really liking my life right now, in this very moment. The north has at times been frustrating, but all the unique experiences have more than made up for all of my frustrations. And, all the moments I've had with the people I've met up here are absolutely priceless. Even if I dread eventually losing those people, I know that I never truly “lose” people. Their words, kindnesses, their very beings, have become part of me.


  1. It's been busy, busy, busy! I have yet to find a surrogate family here, so I envy you. Any pics of you being flung into the air? I never understood why you love things like that.

  2. Not bad at all, my dear.... that's a lot of things you've done there in that "boring" town of yours!