Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring break ramblings -- Part one (of maybe just one)

In the last year, I've moved twice, and am now anticipating my third move. Although it is exciting to contemplate new adventures, I'm also sick of this incessant restlessness. The last time somewhere felt like "home" was when I was still in Inuvik. Yesterday, while I was waiting for my flight from Edmonton to Vancouver, I saw a Canadian North plane on the tarmac. In that moment, I wished I could return up north, to "my town."

I'm in Vancouver now, staying at my parents' for spring break. I need this break, these days of movies at the theatre, good books from the library, sushi and desserts with friends and family. I had been in an off mood all week before break. If it weren't for work, I might have stayed in bed for five days straight. Part of it was just being burnt out from the job; part of it was ennui from being in Fox Creek; but mostly, it was from all the time I had to overthink things. Yes, things....

Over the past eight months or so, I had consciously cut ties with two people who had, at some point, mattered very much to me. These were two people who had made my heart ache whenever I was with them, but who made that ache ever stronger when I was without them. These were two people who had forced me to let go of them through their actions, but who had the immense power to hold me captive through our shared history.  These were two people whom time and experience had refused to let me forget.

During the most unexpected of moments, these two people would creep into my mind, and I would sink under the weight of the distance we had let build between us. I might be watching TV, or showering, or trying to fall asleep. I would become morose at the irreparable relationships; I would question whether I should have done something; I would come to the conclusion that nothing could or should be done, which would just drag me lower into the depths of my melancholy.  But, just as surely, that same realization would comfort me. After all, I'd reason, letting go is a two-way manoeuvre. 

Whenever I feel that emptiness, that hollow echo and that dull ache, something ordinary would jolt me back to reality, to seeing just how nothing is black and white. There are never just downs, or just ups. Life is this magnificent mish-mash of colours, from violent reds, through calm blues, to joyous yellows. Things are and aren't what they seem. There's usually something deeper, something unanticipated, something that gives way to something else.

Case in point: On Thursday, the school held "King and Queen of the Creek" festivities for the students. The students competed against each other and some teachers in scooter-races, arm-wrestling, and pillow-fights. The students were just so excited. Some kids who regularly skipped school came in just to vie for the title of being "king" or "queen." Part of me found the whole event rather sad. Eighteen-year-olds had nothing better to do than to shove each other out of the way as they did their laps around that tiny gym. But, there was also an innocence in their ability to be so fully absorbed, to find such joy in something so simple.

In the Home Ec. classroom, the fridges were cleaned out for break. One seventh-grade student managed to take home bags of groceries that included an almost-full jug of milk, some peppers, garlic, and mushrooms, half a jar of salsa, and half a jar of pasta sauce. His eyes lit up as those items were put into plastic bags for him to take. Meanwhile, his classmates danced around, singing along to the tunes blaring from an expensive iPod. How disparate the worlds of those twelve-year-olds seemed -- from one who cherished leftovers from the classroom fridge to those who danced as though nothing mattered in the world.

Later that evening, as M and I drove down to the store, we saw that same boy -- the one who had taken the groceries home -- on a side street by himself, throwing rocks into the woods. Part of me wanted to scoop that little boy up and whisk him away from Fox Creek, from his apparent loneliness. However, watching him launch those rocks with a beautiful rhythm all his own, I saw that perhaps there was some secret joy in his solitude. Perhaps those were moments that he hoarded as he would some cherished treasure.

As for me, perhaps I hoard those moments of melancholy. Those moments make me appreciate what I have, and the people I do have in my life. I may have some secret joy too. It just may not be in a scooter-race, a bag of groceries, or a pile of rocks. But I do have it. It's here, in having a home at my parents' no matter how old I am, in the eyes of a cat, in the clickety-clack of computer keys. It's here, and I have it, and it's all that matters.


  1. Without your melancholy you probably wouldn't be the amazing writer that you are. Thanks for sharing yourself in this blog, again. It helps me know and understand you even tho' we can't share the words over Stoned Wheat Thins SWT. EB

  2. Vicky, I read this again, after I saw your photos of the flowers. This blog made me shed tears. You touch my heart!!!!! EB