Thursday, 12 June 2008

Jetlagged and mumbling

It has just tipped over 4am and I can't sleep. It's starting to get light out already, the muddy, grey light of an overcast Scottish sky that will look the same at 3 this afternoon. I'm feeling a bit muddled myself, which is how I usually feel when I go back "home." I am still thinking of the smell that seemed to make the air bulge - willow sap mixed with that of birch trees. The leaves were big and new, just entering their peak when they are so alive they seem indestructible. Teen aged leaves. I tried to hear the Grease songs in their rustling and hustling. Funny - I didn't take any photos of the trees. No angle seemed like it would do the image any justice, so I waited until it was too late and now I wish I could have a sliver of that green against blue, even if it wasn't perfect.

Before I left I had time to kill time before I needed to be at the airport, so I hopped a bus to my old Vancouver neighbourhood and had a hot chocolate at Characters, which still remains the best used bookstore/coffee shop I have ever seen.

It is just hitting me now how much I have moved around so far in my life. I take myself back to these places sometimes in order to witness my emotional response, feel my mind reel or my stomach churn, or just to sit in the emptiness of detachment. For example when I took Nifer to see Linlithgow, where I lived for two years, I became agitated on the train and remained so throughout much of our stay. I had not been back since Andrew and I split and I think it was too soon to return - all the feelings of stress that led up to our separation seemed to be lingering in the stonework and every familiar street. Except the chocolate shop, which was still a glorious haven.

Being back in the Cariboo, out near where my parents live, makes me feel dreamlike, as my body remembers the smells of the trees and earth from my childhood. When I am in 100 Mile I don't feel much of anything, other than a noticeable inner twinge whenever someone recognizes me and calls me by my old name. This always makes me imagine I am being erased, all the more recent building blocks of my spirit being flicked cruelly with those two syllables, like a wet towel on a sore spot. The wrong part of me keeps getting recognized, and since I am not a fan of launching into explanations I usually say nothing, which this leaves me feeling helpless. This sense of agonizing transparency is only relieved when I am with Mikara, who I know can really see me.

Last year I got to visit Tofino and Ucluelet again, as well as Williams Lake and Kamloops. I retain no emotional attachment for the city of Kamloops, and even the nauseous feeling I used to get whenever I would hear the beepboop of a pedestrian crosswalk signal has passed. When Jerry was in hospital all those years ago and I would go to visit him, I would have to cross the street over to the hospital and somehow my body absorbed that noise and associated it with ache and sickening confusion.

Williams Lake fills me with warmth. There is a familiarity about this town for me. My two years there were relatively happy ones, as least in retrospect. I lived in my cabin and felt a new connection to the earth. I met countless interesting characters and discovered a mysterious richness to the area that has always stayed with me. Perhaps it is because the Chilcotin rubs up to Williams Lake so closely. Highway 20 is always there, like a string to a place of bold beauty that never feels the need to explain itself. I recognize this as Freedom.

My feelings for Ucluelet and Tofino are not wrapped up so much in the landscape as in my deep love for two people who live on a boat. This clouds my reaction somewhat, although the lingering distrust between me, Earth Woman and She, the undulating Pacific, is still apparent. She stays on her side and I on mine.

Since I haven't had a chance to wander through Fort St. John or the other areas of Vancouver where I used to live, this brings me to good old Marpole. Most of the stores are exactly the same, except the Safeway looks even more squat and in need of a polish. One of the poignant geographical spots for me is the crossroads of 70th and Granville. It just hovers there like a decision that needs to be made over and over, with all those people in their cars oblivious to the lines of power they are driving through. A terrible sense of loss settles into my stomach, as my heart is reminded of all the times I have gone the wrong way.

I wonder how I will feel about Edinburgh in the future. I know that eventually I will move back to Canada. The scent of the willows told me that. When is a question I cannot answer. I wonder if I will ever be able to be solid in a place. I have spread my spirit over so much area that sometimes I feel that I may succeed in my desire to dissolve completely into Things. Except, that is, for this lingering sensation of homelessness, and doubt that I may be going about it the wrong way.

It is nearing 5am, and maybe if I try hard I can still sleep a couple of hours.

2 comments:

your new best friend said...

beautiful post dearie. if mikara makes you feel so damn good, you should spend more time with her.
she is pretty cool after all - crazy tree-planter hair and all :)

Purest Green said...

Mikara is indeed most glorious, crazy tree planter hair or not! Someday Mikara should visit the wonderful land of Scotland, and eat deep fried mars bars with sophia.