Up north has always been a sanctuary for me, a place to relax and let go. My dad and stepmom’s place exists apart from my everyday reality, with only tenuous connections to it. This is usually an unalloyed good thing: there are times in any life when a break from reality is not just wanted but required. This week has been one of those times for me.
I lost my job nearly a month ago in a corporate downsizing. The less said about it the better, although I can stress that I am not bitter and that, like everything else in life, it’s up to me what to make of it.
I wish I knew what to make of it.
Three weeks of spinning my wheels at home only managed to wear ruts of worthlessness in my mind. You can tell yourself that your skills remain intact and that you are fundamentally a Good Person; further that You Are Not Your Job and that These Things Happen For A Reason…and all that rationalization counts for squat against the voice that, whatever bland platitudes were offered, judged you and found you wanting. At 42, I am not yet anywhere near spiritually developed enough to let my own voice overpower the voice of the World: hell, I’m still trying to suss out what my own voice is saying, half the time.
Eva has been truly wonderful in keeping me mentally and emotionally ambulatory after the career crash. She’s needed help to do it. My friends have done more than they know to that effect as well. Really, friends is far too flaccid a word to describe you. My LOVES—Jason, Craig, Kate, Nicole, Darlene—each of you, in your way, has made the last three weeks much more bearable than they might otherwise have been. Every interaction, even the most trifling ones, has taken my mind off me and put it on you where it belongs.
But at some point I had to let go of the crutch and reconnect with my own soul, and up here’s the best place to do that, because the north country has always resonated with me. The biggest reason I don’t visit (or live!) up here is the absolute need for a car. Getting here without one is nontrivial and expensive. Luckily, Nicole and her husband Sean were en route to their own escape from reality even further north, and generously agreed to take me. It was a lovely trip up, even if half an hour of it was consumed with talk about Robert Jordan’s WHEEL OF TIME saga and how no other literature holds a candle to it.
There’s something in the many moods of the Magnetawan: from the flat calm of a morning’s dawn to the windy whitecaps that warn of impending weather, the river speaks in poem and paragraph and its voice produces healing echoes deep within me. To the geographic beauty, add the beauty of family: the steadfast support of my father, the warmth of my stepmother Heather, and the love of kith and kin that bathes this entire area in a soft and peaceful glow in my mind. I don’t see any of you often enough, and each meeting is a gift. Aunt Dawna and Barry; John and Anne; Ronnie and Mary…you’re each of you in my thoughts, and my thoughts are made lighter and more joyful because of it.
As to what I’ve done up here: not a whole hell of a lot. That’s always and forever the point, here. Rest and relaxation, recharge and rejuvenation, that’s life in Rainbow Country. I’ve taken a couple of dips in the river, spent more time outside in the past fi ve days than in the five months previous
One thing I haven’t done, that I’m rather proud of, is languish all day on the Internet like I did at home. It hasn’t been cold turkey, to be sure: I’ve checked in a few times a day. But for VERY brief intervals: just long enough to clear my Facebook notifications, mostly. I’ll admit to a couple of quick chats—Kate, Nicole, I *miss* you!—but I think even my harshest net critic would have to admit I’ve managed to curtail my online presence to a huge degree. (This blog and the previous entry have both been written offline and quickly copied and pasted; please excuse any errors in formatting.) It’s been hard, I won’t lie and say it hasn’t been. But it’s also been necessary.
Instead, I have reverted to my passion before the Internet came along and read. Guy Gavriel Kay’s RIVER OF STARS was exactly the sort of book I was looking for, an epic tome with a slow build. ROOM, by Emma Donoghue , was simply devastating, a book I found very difficult to read and which will stay with me for a long time to come.
I needed a novel for the long bus ride home on Friday. To that end, I visited Bearly Used Books in Parry Sound. Just a small town bookstore, but surely I’d find *something* in there.
“Just a small town bookstore.” HA. Try “far and away the best bookstore I’ve ever visited”. I could kill five or six hours in there and it would feel like five or six minutes. Their selection is HUGE. Normally, when I go in a used bookstore, I enter mentally armed with a list of ten or fifteen authors to check…sure in the knowledge that I’ll find maybe five of them and I’ll already own all the books in stock.
Bearly Used had all but one author in stock, and multiple copies of several books I haven’t found anywhere else. I couldn’t resist buying the BACHELOR BROTHERS’ BED AND BREAKFAST BEDSIDE COMPANION, a book I inexplicably sold forever and an age ago and have never seen since. There were probably ten more books I could have bought without blinking (the prices were great, too!), but I only have so much room in my backpacks. In the end I bought just one other book for myself. It wasn’t by any of my authors. It wasn’t a book I’d had any real intention to read until I came up here. Volume One of the WHEEL OF TIME.
Sean, this had better be good.
I want to thank my Dad and Heather for the hospitality, the gifts (I now am the proud owner of yet another Maple Leaf jersey, this one Tim Horton’s!) and your love and kindness. I think I’m ready to face the future with open eyes and a steady heart. I love you both.
As much as I have enjoyed being up here, I'll be glad to get home. I miss Eva...this is the longest we've been apart since we've been married and I feel every minute of it. I miss my puppies and my kittens and yes, my Net friends and loves. I'll be home in a couple of days: still one full day of peace and tranquitude to savour...