A week or so ago, I was in Toronto for a conference. The mad pace was set as soon as I dumped my luggage in the hotel room that stood in as ‘home’ for the next four days. I met my colleague Patrick in the hotel lobby and we were off to find our hotel liaison, Angela. “You have wanderlust,” she said to me at one point in the conversation. I was a little gob smacked. Patrick laughed. He knew she was right.
My cousin Liz has reflected that I seem to be able to immerse myself in experience when I’m away; I seem freer in that regard, she says. And that is true. I do tend to have a very visceral, most times inexplicable reaction to where I am; an ability to just, immerse myself.
Last May for example, I was in Regina, headed to my first sweat lodge. My colleague, boss (though she loathes the ‘b’ word) and friend Reéne took great pleasure in making fun of all of the ooooh-ing and ah-ing I was doing. The endless rolling hills were beautiful and it felt good to be reacquainted with the wide-open prairie sky. “You think everywhere is beautiful,” Reéne said with a knowing chuckle.
Some places find their way in quickly. Some sites, like Northern Canada and Tofino capture my imagination and feel like a feast for my soul. Those places give me the sense that I could stay for a while and be perfectly happy. Other places cause an, ‘I want to leave. Now!’ reaction and still others inspire neither response; just leave me feeling ‘Meh’ … nothing at all. Resorts (I must qualify) in Cuba and the Dominican do nothing for me, for example.
Now that spring has finally decided to grace us in the east, I’ve started to roll down my windows in the car so I can tell myself my favourite story: It’s summer. I’m on a road trip. In the middle of nowhere. Just like my protagonist, Morgan. Windows open, music turned up. Nowhere to go, no place to be. Just … west.
Even though the reality is that I am driving the same highway I drive everyday to get to work, I can somehow, for a moment at least, get lost in my little fantasy.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said “I want to buy a VW microbus, pack up Steve and Fennel (our cat) and drive across the country, park it somewhere in Tofino and write my novel from there,” I’d be rich. Those words have escaped my lips more than once in the past couple of years. I know Reéne has been afraid, on more than one occasion that I might actually make good on my promise.
This January, Steve and I moved to an amazing apartment. We have a Westerly view of the Bedford Basin and Southern view that looks out in the direction of Halifax. I knew it was ours when we were standing on the deck for the first time, looking toward the McKay Bridge. “I feel like I’m in North Van and that’s the Lion’s Gate,” I said to Steve. The apartment itself has a decided ‘west coast’ feel to it.
Maybe it will be okay to stick around a little while longer, since I’ve managed to find a bit of the west in the east.