Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Yellowknife in the springtime

I’m not sure whether Yellowknife is an escape from Inuvik, or whether it actually magnifies the ambivalent tug of emotions that I feel when living in Inuvik. I’ve come to Yellowknife this year to spend my spring break, and I’m struck by how much it has changed from my first few visits here in the past three years. My first time in this northern city was in October of 2003, shortly after moving up north. I had been sent down by my employer for a two-day conference, and loved the feeling of the “big city” once again. I had missed the restaurants of Vancouver, and had been yearning for a good Asian meal. Yellowknife was great for a brief interlude of immersion back into the bustle of a city.

The most memorable visit to date was the summer of 2005, when I spent two weeks here and basked in the golden glow and heat of the northern sun. I took in Folk on the Rocks the day I arrived (fresh off the plane from Puerto Vallarta no less!). I was red and peeling by the end of the day, but was oh-so-blissful. Those were two weeks of absolute paradise, when I did nothing but eat great food, hang out with a dear friend, and take daily shopping trips to the shops around town.

This time around, the city feels different. Most likely, I’m the one to have changed. Yes, the restaurants are still here, and the bustle still abounds, but there is a sadness that I never really felt before. Two days ago, I saw two of my former students. One had on enormous sunglasses, but even so, the scratches around her eyes were still visible. I had hoped for her to be doing well, to be thriving in this city; however, it seemed as though the city had swallowed her up, and spit her out. She looked so lost. I just wanted to hold her, to whisk her away, to watch Disney movies with her, to feed her ice-cream and cookies, to laugh together. Instead, I did a double-take, asked her how she was (to which she replied, “Not good.”), and saw her on her way to meet up with her grandfather. The other student I saw was pushing around a stroller. Our eyes met, and she was gone before I could even say hello. Yellowknife seems to do something mysterious and incomprehensible to people who’ve been here long enough. Even I seem oddly disquieted, not quite myself anymore. I watch where I step, and make sure that I don’t look at anyone for too long, although I admit that there is no real danger. Perhaps I’m merely afraid of the tales behind the eyes of the people I pass. Perhaps I don’t want to see another of my students entangled into the strong, destructive pulls the city seems to have.

In other news, my beloved computer is crapping out. The display is on its last leg, and is slowly but surely fading into a blank whiteness. I went and talked to someone at the computer repair shop here in town, and she told me that it would be hardly worth replacing the LCD display, since it would be a minimum of $700. Although my computer is less than a year old, it is no longer under warranty. Maybe my computer is merely reflecting my own inner “blankness” from being in Yellowknife, and will be all better when we leave this place. Not likely, but one could always hope, right? I’ve been telling myself, “It’s just a computer. It’s just a computer….” I have had such bad luck with computers that I should either a) be banned from ever purchasing another, or b) buy the extended warranty the next time.

I’ll be heading to Fort Resolution tomorrow with a friend. It’ll be a good Easter, with lots of good food, great conversation, and a nice road trip as well. Photos of the trip will follow, I promise.

Happy Easter to everyone, or, if you don’t celebrate Easter, have a happy spring! My friend has fresh-cut daffodils in her house now, so spring has indeed reached us, even in the great white north!


  1. It must be hard seeing kids you care about struggling/lost/hurting.

  2. Where are those photos of yours? I've missed seeing your pictures. How did your trip go? You are a bleeding-heart, and you've always been. It's what everyone loves about you.