My life story: the stone, cold facts

[Disclaimer: Why do I feel compelled to archive the memories of my childhood? Is it because someday I may not remember them at all so when I’m old and doddering in a nursing home, potentially living through Alzheimer’s, maybe someday someone will read them to me, and I’ll be sane again for a moment?]
I was born in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. I was born on my sister’s birthday. All I know about my birth is that there is a picture of her holding me and she looks like she’s crying. For a long time, I thought they were tears of joy until one day I figured maybe they were tears of sadness because from then on out she had to share her birthday with me. I don’t know. I’d like to think the former. It’s probably a mix of the two.
[Sidenote: I was going to catalogue every single memory I could recall and then I realized how boring that would be so I’m trying to hit the highlights of the last 48 years. You don’t have to read on. This is an exercise in avoiding memory loss, remember? It’s nice of you to come with, if you don’t mind.]
When I was about 5, we lived in Horseshoe Bay. And I remember we had this very proper British neighbor who was always correcting my sister and I whenever we said, ‘Can I have some milk?’ She’d say, ‘I don’t know. “CAN” you?’ I also remember my sister stepping on a needle and getting rushed to the hospital although I didn’t go with her. Oopsie!
When I was about 5 we moved from Horseshoe Bay to White Rock, a small town that was more inland. It was a log cabin on an S-curve. It was an idyllic childhood in many ways. Cats, dogs, goats, chickens, a mum who stayed home (not that moms have to stay home but it’s nice when someone is home. It could be a dad. In fact, it was a dad later when I was growing up. Go figure.). We had a German shepherd named Igor who would one day bite a girl’s head because she was chasing me in the yard and he thought she was attacking me. On another occasion, Igor was forced to wear a ring of dead geese around his neck for killing the Dutch neighbor’s animals. Igor was really a nice dog. We didn’t train him to kill. It was just in his genes. We also had a Samoyed. A couple in fact. I think one of them got hit by a car? I know, it’s sad. But sometimes that is what sticks out from childhood. The trauma. There were good memories too. Sasha, the Samoyed, was beautiful. All white and fluffy. Igor was very loyal and we felt safe. Sorry but I remember the dramatic details of death and carnage first. I’ll try to remember more positive ones from now on.
We had goats. My mum used to go down and milk them and make cheese. I don’t remember liking the taste of it but I loved the idea of milking goats. And gathering eggs! I got to help carry the eggs in the house sometimes. One time my mum told me to hold on tightly to the egg as I walked with it. Well, I held on so tight I crushed the egg! Oops, sorry. More trauma. Poor egg.
My sister and I played piano growing up. We each were given lessons and when guests came over we would perform our little songs. One time, when we had guests over I remember taking a bath when my sister decided to play a trick on me. I think she knew I had forgotten we had guests over and so she told me that my grandparents from England were on the phone in the kitchen so I ran through the living room with just a towel barely around me, half naked in front of the guests. I used to cry a lot to get my sister in trouble. I’m sure I cried a lot that time. (to be continued… whether anyone is reading or not…)
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Dogsled Alley

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I like walking down alleyways more than regular streets. It’s either that or I also like walking at night. If only I felt a bit safer than I do. It’s pretty safe in this town, though. Then again there can be the odd meth fiend about.

But anyway, the reason I love alleyways or nighttime walking in the suburbs is because I don’t feel like I’m on parade. If I lived on a country road, I wouldn’t worry about it but in the suburbs I always have this weird feeling that I’m being watched or judged when walking down the sidewalk during the day. Unless it’s a big city. Then everyone is so self-centered that it doesn’t matter what I do or wear or how I look. Nobody cares. [Just kidding about my judgmental attitude towards urbanites. Well, barely.]

No, I like alleys. Today I took my dogs down the alley. The ground was frozen in the shady bits and they were excited by the cold and the smells. On the main street, I found myself holding them back and saying ‘heel’ every 5 seconds, but once I got to the alleyway, I realized….Hey! this can be fun!!!! I’ve got my own dogsled team and the soles of my shoes are so worn down that it’s like ice skating on the asphalt and so…. Suddenly I was a kid again having fun in an alleyway instead of being upright and uptight on a main street.

The beauty of alleyways and nighttime freewheeling living.

Living where I live is like having Jiminy Cricket in my pocket -no one else can hear how I hear it sing

Dear blog diary,

So I’ve learned a lot about small towns since moving to the northwest eight years ago. Spoiler alert: I like small towns even though partway with this blog it may sound like I don’t.

  • At first glance, many people in smaller towns may seem cold. Almost without expression (if they don’t know you). I have pondered why for a long time. Is it because they’re shy? Is it that colder weather makes people more emotionally cold (not judging that as necessarily a bad thing since being ‘cold’ emotionally could mean you have a better handle on your emotions than those hot headed southern folk – not to stereotype, even though I just did).
  • Everyone has their own experience of small town life. I’m not saying my experience is the same as anyone else’s necessarily but it’s what I have to go on. Anyway, what I’ve learned is that this cold exterior is a front. The longer I live here, the more I get to know the people and the more I realize that in pockets of moments sprinkled here and there over the years, those very same people who I thought were emotionally distant ended up being waaaaaaayyy friendly. It’s like a light switch is on or off with them. Most of the day people go through their day in the northwest with their light switch off. And then, if you say the right word or find the right topic that agrees with them to talk about, they open up their heart and suddenly I feel like this person who I had written off as a goner emotionally is actually a very nice human being. I often have way more than I could ever imagine in common with some of these very same people who I had felt looked at me like I was from Transylvania. It’s like…. Looking into a mirror when you are living in the northwest. A still, placid lake that reflects the mountains perfectly above it. If you feel like you’re from Transylvania, people around here won’t necessarily say ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ to your self-perception. They will let you be. So you have to be stronger than that, I believe, in the northwest. You learn to actually love yourself (not in a vain way, a healthy way) because people around here are not necessarily going to do it for you. Again, not a judgement call. Just a fact. Ok, a ‘fact’ in my experience. I’m not laying down the law. Just observing.
  • Ok, last thing I’ve noticed. Time is different here. Once you begin to realize that you do have a lot in common with more people than you originally thought in this small northwesterly world, then you may begin to ‘feel’ like time slows down and even stands still occasionally. Again, not in a bad way necessarily although I know it can feel annoying at times, too. What I mean is that momentarily there is the feeling that all of the urgency and bad news and end of the world doom and gloom that is constantly shoved down our throats and which is, inevitably, probably mostly true is gone for a while. And you can actually have pockets of happiness when you feel connected and at peace and even content with the world as it is right now and there is even the feeling that – no matter what – it just doesn’t matter in the bigger scheme of things whether Trump is in office or whatnot. Ok, OF COURSE that shit matters too but what I’m saying is that without a moment or two or three of actual contentment and connection, it’s almost impossible to face the endless parade of nonsense that does filter in via the internet, etc. Which it is important to face and deal with. But you’ve got to have some moments of peace and contentment and connection and the way you arrive at that here, in the northwest, happens but it never quite happens the way you expect it.