This is a pep talk, this is me (as I do sometimes) writing out a pros and cons list to remind myself of what overshadows my fears and discomforts. This is how I prep myself for what is to come. Thank God for this beautiful day.
It takes merely a few seconds to miss the allure and charm of the North when one leaves it behind. Then upon return, it takes merely weeks to not only remember the isolation but feel the pang of it in your chest.
Katie and I spent some time over the weekend acquainting ourselves with a couple construction workers who had been working here for a couple of weeks and then got weathered in until Saturday. The feeling of satisfaction in finding company who bring with them the comfort and memories of the South, of home, is rare up here.
When I asked them if they were bored, they told us about the movies they had been watching and said, "aren't you?" Usually I would tell them of the many things to do here, but these weren't men who hadn't been keeping busy. My response was, "I'm used to it, I guess."
The truth is that my response was not entirely the truth. I had already been feeling that loneliness ebbing into my soul. It started snowing the morning we went over to spend some time with our snowed in guests. It snowed most of the day Saturday, and Sunday. Today it is Wednesday and the snow seems to have stopped. The small white patches on the ground are melting away slowly. The sun is out but then again the moon is too.
I dropped Brody off at Daycare to play with his friends for the afternoon, (It's free here!) and then I took a short walk. I cannot resist basking in the warm sun on a fresh-air kind of day. I walked to the top of a small hill, just on the edge of town. I looked down in the direction of the airport and saw white sheets off in the distance. I briefly doubted that they would ever melt away.
As I stood on that hill with civilization behind me, I noticed the quiet. I closed my eyes for what must have been five minutes. I heard the birds, noticing that even though so many had already migrated, there were the remaining birds that must be exceptionally brave. They tweeted and chirped and in that moment I was transported to exactly the spot I stood. I took the trip but the perfection of the very spot where my feet were grounded was so untouchable that there was nothing better my mind could conjure. I could feel the warmth of the sun coming and then leaving with the shallow gusts of cool wind. The winter is coming, the moon in the sky at noon proves this daunting fact. I am afraid. They call it the land of the midnight sun, but you don't hear many refer to it as the land of the noon time moon - which it truly is for the majority of the year.
I cannot tell you what it feels like to live in Northern Canada, under the blanket of darkness. The place you are taken is a dark one and sometimes when you lay alone in bed you can hear your lonely heart thrum as though alone inside a rusted and forgotten oil drum. Sealed away from the world until the ice thaws and freedom claws its way slowly inward and releases you. There is a longing that crawls beneath the surface of the skin, the nerves that crave human touch but know it will be so long until anything other than a parka hugs the body. Knowing these things are coming, and coming fast, has me a little bit nervous these days.
Seeing those construction men off on Saturday was like sealing the envelope and reality sank in. The plane was taking this short summer and the fun company it provided for one weekend with it.
I had the feeling that I wasn't entirely alone in my peace on that hill. The walls here, and in every small town, have eyes. I suspected there was a middle aged woman standing half hidden behind her curtains, wondering about the crazy new girl in town. As I turned and took barely fifteen steps in the direction of home, I heard a loud knocking from the living room window of the house I was passing. She was maybe three, more likely two, with dirty blond hair. She knocked and I waved as I walked, her returning wave accompanied by a brilliant smile. I got a little further and she knocked again, waving. It happened four more times, the last of which when I was nearly out of sight. She had to wave until the chance was gone, she had a hard time letting go of a fresh smile that had just walked through her day. I realized how much that little girl reminded me of my twenty-four year old self, our mentalities at least, are similar.
Just as a child, it pains me to say good-bye, to watch something brilliant or fun or new come to an end. In the arctic, this is magnified. Yet all it takes to restore my faith and to remind me of why and how I stay here to push through another winter, is one day. One day, where the sun shines like gold on the water and illuminates the smiles of every passer-by. One day where the weight of my parka hangs on a hanger and not on my shivering shoulders.
I cannot quite put into words the way that the Arctic is in itself an outrageous contradiction.
Soon, the Northern earth will welcome the embrace of the long, cold winter that it is so accustomed to. In these windows sit children who long for adventure and outside of my window will stand a woman who is braving this Northern earth to continue the adventure she has found.