We all have pivots in our lives – end points where we are flung in a new direction and we have to begin again. I know that life is full of these times where each of us will be asked to pick up and start anew, and that each person handles the bitter sweetness of them with different grace or distaste.
Each time I reach one of these points, and I sit briefly in the stasis between what my life was and what it is about to be, I let myself steep in the memories. I stretch into the betweenness, trying to find, by memories and reflection, some comfort in this awkward state that is both hollow with the absence of what was and full with the possibilities of what comes next.
This whole year has been an evolving state of flux for me. After graduating university last spring, I moved home, I traveled, I started trying to define my life beyond school, and I moved here – to the Canadian tundra.Now, after almost six months in the coldest and darkest winter of my life, we have days of bright sunlight with drawn out orange sunsets that last well into evening. The once ice-covered sidewalks are clear, and we’ve got plans for a long drive south. This long winter is coming to an end.
Our apartment is packed. The closet shelves are as startlingly bare as the sidewalks outside. The comfort I’ve cultivated here is all boxed up and ready to be unpacked somewhere else. And although I’m excited for warmth, family, friends, more freedom to roam…. I’m a little sad to go.These last few days of packing and goodbyes, they’ve got me thinking a lot about what it means to move on.
Like at the end of any good adventure, I’m feeling some pre-emptive nostalgia. I’ve had a few pangs of sadness about leaving our first apartment together, the favorite places we found and frequented, the friends we made, and more than that, just being young and figuring out how to live together so far from home.
Even though it was hard sometimes not to feel stir crazy and isolated, we had fun here. We made the most of this time in this place that I likely would never have visited if not for Jesse’s chance work term schedule change and my willingness to come along for the ride.
All the ice skating on a lake frozen thick enough for semi trucks to pass over, the nights we left our apartment at 2am with mugs of hot chocolate to watch the northern lights, all the friends we made (mostly temporary Yellowknifers like us – Canadians from Ottawa, Montreal, Aussies, Americans, and South Africans – all here on their own adventures of varying duration) it’s time to leave it all behind.
On the brink of moving on, I’m mostly just feeling lucky to have had this experience. These months to explore a new temporary home, time to read, write, and become, they were a gift. I know that’s cheesy, but the abundant free time to read all the books I wanted and to work on writing whatever I felt like, it’s been a real luxury. So while it’s been a winter of frigid days and loneliness at times, I can feel that it’s been a period of growth. The good days have far outweighed the few bad ones, and I know even more so now that happiness is a choice. Seeing people outside walking their dogs and riding bikes, even at the coldest points of winter, has repeatedly reminded me of the resilience of the human spirit, and I’ve definitely found that in myself here. Through the cold, the truck problems (finally fixed, woohoo!), homesickness, I persevered and have found happiness in every day. I learned how to be alone, and to like it.
Now that it’s all ending and it’s time to again face the inevitable questions of, “Now what?” I’m learning again to be comfortable with the unease of not knowing for sure.
Because as much as it’s nice to have a plan, I know that with all the disparate and unexpected choices and chances that somehow aligned to lead me all the way up here against logic, we can’t plan the best things. Despite our efforts to scaffold our futures, our lives are built on happenstance. Que sera sera.
Now, we’re off to whatever comes next! First stop: High Level, Alberta and then Lake Louise and Banff National Park for some mountain air and one last winter weekend. In honor of moving on, as we leave on our 30 hour / 2,345 km / 1,457 mile road trip south, the words of Jack Kerouac:
“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain til you see their specs dispersing? – It’s the too huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”