Friday, May 30, 2008


The snow has melted, and the Mackenzie River, the one I had walked on a month ago, is now flowing clear. I’m mourning the end of my time here. Last week, the community band that I’ve been a part of for the past year performed at a coffeehouse held in the high school foyer. After playing our set, I sat down amidst the spectators, amidst the faces of people in this town – faces of friends who had come to support me (despite my pathetic attempts at dissuasion), faces of colleagues, of young joyful children whom I’d seen grow from infancy. I thought to myself, This is it, the last coffeehouse, and my heart filled with an emptiness so vast that I was swallowed up whole. All of a sudden, I felt I had lost something so vital, so precious, that my throat tightened and I had to gasp for breath.

One day this week, my friend and I walked along Mackenzie Road, the main thoroughfare in this little town, and we took our cameras along out into the warm spring air. It was ten in the evening, and the brilliant northern sun beat down on us. It felt completely surreal, an absolute carnivalization of the familiar, as though we were seeing the town for the very first time again. I wanted to take it all in, to capture the warmth, the masses of pussy willow along the roadside, the dusty gold that swirled around us, but alas, I was saddened by the inadequacies of the camera lens to fully record those moments and emotions. Moreover, the inadequacies of time, of the eyes and mind, were too much to bear. I knew that those real, concrete, indescribable moments would fade, become memories that start at first in vibrant Technicolor, and gradually recede into a bland greyness. And it broke my heart to realize that.

In a month, my work here will be officially over, and I’ll be in the process of packing up the house. It’s been hard to write about my decision to leave Inuvik, harder yet to make the actual preparations for departure. I had a new student this week, and after the initial introductions, after I told her that I had grown up in Vancouver but had been living here for the past five years, she said, “So this is your hometown.” Yes, my girl, this is still my hometown, for the next month and a half. And I’m trying my hardest to will my heart to save room for this town forever.

Here are those imperfect pictures of my town, taken a few days ago on that gorgeous, perfect spring evening:

"Smartie-box" rowhouses

By the visitor centre

On Mackenzie Road

The A-frame houses at one end of town

The Esso station, with the Mackenzie River behind it

On the road down to the river

First buds in spring!

Sir Alexander Mackenzie Elementary School

The Mackenzie River, with the last remnants of a long winter

No comments:

Post a Comment