Wednesday, July 23, 2008

This perfect town

I’m sitting in my hotel room in Whitehorse. Five years ago, this northern capital was the perfect transition from the big West Coast city of Vancouver to the remote northern town of Inuvik. I remember walking the trails that summer, marvelling at the mountains on either side. To me, Whitehorse was the perfect town. It was artsy, funky, quaint, magnificently natural, and just so comfortable.

And now, it serves as the perfect transition from Inuvik, my home for the past five years, back to cosmopolitan Vancouver. This afternoon, I was holding my breath as the plane taxied for take-off. Once in the air, I saw myself as officially gone from Inuvik, lifting away from the land and the soul of the town that had held my heart all these years.

I walked the downtown of Whitehorse once more, revisiting some of the haunts I had come to know from my multiple trips through year after year. I visited Fireweed Books, and stopped in to see the albino moose at Murdoch’s. There’s now a Starbucks on the corner, and the Bonanza Hotel is gone. I had supper at the Vietnamese noodle house, and had the most wonderful salad rolls and pho. I can’t remember the last time I had used chopsticks before this. Whitehorse remains the perfect town in my eyes, even through the changes I’ve noticed. I dream of perhaps settling here someday, of letting the beauty of the river and mountains become my landscape.

Early this morning, my friend K called me from Yellowknife. She was there these few days for work, and missed the chance to bid me farewell. She understood what leaving Inuvik meant for me, how my world would turn topsy-turvy. She understood how Vancouver was no longer “home” to me, how Inuvik had grown to be part of my very being. She noted that my cat would be the only constant to remain in my life. In a sense, she’s right: My adorable three-year-old cat is born and raised in Inuvik. She has known no other home. Her home is in me; wherever I go, she will go as well. I’m glad that I have her. She signifies the link that I still have with the North, a representation of the thread that no time or distance could sever. She has seen the changes in me in the three years since I’ve adopted her, and she’ll be witness to the changes that await me. Those beautiful green-gold eyes are my home for now, on this king-sized bed, in this hotel room in this perfect town.

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