I live on the Atlantic. I tell people I suffer bi-coastal personality disorder because my daydreams are drenched in Pacific mist and surf.
I am anchored to the East by family. My ancestors are buried here, on Nova Scotia soil.
This is where I began. Where I learned to walk, to talk, to dream. Where wanderlust started its whisper, low in my ear.
I spent my early twenties in Vancouver. That’s when the mists of the Pacific curled into every crevice of my being. And the old growth forests seeped in. I was unequivocally shown that life holds magic and mystery.
But Nova Scotia was over 6000 kilometers away.
So I came home.
All of that distance, so many years later and I still ache for Pacific mists and wispy cedar stands. Ethereal old growth forests intoxicate me. The misty mountain skyline plays tricks with the eyes and Pacific sands whisper a promise of something unbidden; something more …
* * *
March 10th, 2016.
We were sitting on the tarmac at 7:30 a.m. waiting for the plane to taxi. I was getting settled when Sarah texted: “Hey Marni! I am loving your BC pics on facebook … omg how do you ever manage to leave?”
It was true. I was a bit of a hot mess. For the first time in a long time I was leaving BC and I had no idea when I would return, and that was unsettling.
Sarah wrote back, “It just seems as if BC is your soul home.”
I was ready to go home to Nova Scotia. I just wasn’t ready to leave BC. This is always the way.
* * *
It’s no secret that for most of my adult life, I’ve had a romance with BC. Some people laugh when I tell them I have ‘bi-coastal personality disorder’. Some don’t. Let me just say that there are days when I’d probably be happiest if I could split myself down the middle and just ‘be’ on both coasts.
I started writing about BC because I hoped it would help me sort this out: What is it about the Canadian pacific coast? What is it about Tofino, beyond the obvious – that it’s gob-smackingly gorgeous– that makes me obsessively long for it when I’m not there? Why do wispy silhouettes of cedar trees take my breath away? Why can’t I get rid of that ridiculous grin when the plane touches down in Victoria? Why did I feel so content looking out over the Pacific when crossing the Georgia Straight on the ferry last summer?
The west has always felt bigger to me in a way that I don’t think Nova Scotia ever could. It just feels like more is possible out there somehow.
I’ve listened to Faultline Blues (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/faultline-blues-single/id552219306) by Sam Roberts so many times (806 according to the latest iTunes count) I’m sure it’s become part of my DNA. There have been days that I’ve wanted to crawl inside of that song and stay there as long as it would have me. The song tells a story about a guy from the east who drops everything and heads west.
Sometimes, I sing along to the Planet Smashers’ Surfin’ in Tofino (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3hgDGzomUc) – they’re going to Tofino and they’re never comin’ back – because wish I could do the same.
But writing hasn’t helped. If anything, writing a character that longs for the west coast made my west coast obsession worse – go figure! It’s been more like I’ve been ‘method writing’ my characters (if that’s a ‘thing’) and so, there are times when I want to be out on the west coast so badly it fills me with the same dull ache Morgan has to work through.
“I’m sure everyone who comes here has fantasies about dropping everything and moving to Tofino,” I said to my cousin Liz. We were at a look off on the Pacific Coast trail in Ucluelet. I was mesmerized by the frothy surf smashing against the rugged BC coastline below while four eagles soared overhead.
“I love it here,” Liz said, “but I’ve never wanted to live here.”
“Really?” I busied myself, trying to wrap my head around how anyone would not want to live in Tofino – at least for a little while. I always think about it; going to Tofino … I almost passed up Greece this summer, because what if not going meant that I could get back out to Tofino one more time?
* * *
This has been a strange summer. Not only did I not travel in July or August, I didn’t write much either. And now it’s September and there are no plans to head west, and it’s weird, but I think I’m okay with that.
* * *
This ache for the Pacific ebbs and flows like the tides – sometimes it’s acute, sometimes a faint whisper – but it’s always there …