Coming home is always an education: every time you come back you’ll find something new about it. It’s always different shades of the same things– the same roads the same buildings– that I discover back in Winnipeg. But it’s always me that’s changed, and so finding those different shades tells me more about myself than it ever could about Winnipeg.
I bike along the dust. It’s dirt paths and houses, curled along the winding muddy river under the shade of new leaves. I probably know the area better than anywerhe else in the city. In the lonely high school summers those paths became my daily routine: bike down, cycle back– always searching for that new path, usually failing.
Biking there now– against the heavy dust and among the syrupy scent of the violets– all those old feelings came back. Like they’d never left their perch beside the river.
I’ll never again yearn for things the way I did then. I’ll never want the world and all it’s fascinating ups and downs as when every day was a straight line on the pulse machine, a grey road or a flat sky.
On these streets, it’s either the kids at school or they at the lake. Empty. So when I biked around, I had nothing to watch, nothing to see after making the same turns and the same stops a hundred times over. The only interesting thing was whatever was going on in my head.
I noticed this when I came back and did the same ride. I passed a morose series of tombestones overlooking the river. Posted to the side of the graveyard was a sign for a fundraiser, with a picture of a family of three– blond but dressed in black, a picture at a grave but they’re smiling. There was something so wonderfully grim about the whole scene I couldn’t help playing out the rest of it– how there was some dark family drama surrounding this graveyard and the family who inexplicably owned the plot (conspiracies, backdeallings, catfights oh my!).
In the bustle of a city like Vancouver, that sign would have gone unnoticed: clumped among the other signs or buildings set for bulldozing, so uninteresting when everyone’s running past it. When the people around me are so interesting, the need to make up wild stories is minimal.
Back home among the dust and the dirty river, it’s different. It’s there where I had to make up wild fantasies about faraway places just to fill the empty days. Whether in Vancouver or Paris, my day is so consumed by friends/jobs /books/studies/internships that I don’t have the kind of energy for world-building anymore. So it makes me wonder which one is better for a hopeful writer. Is it better to live a life that (hopefully one day) might be interesting enough to write about, or is it better to have the time to dream of the lives far too interesting for anyone to actually play out?
Either way Winnipeg’s not the place for it (for me) anymore. I’ve ridden those roads so many times by this point that the stories have run dry. By last summer I’d grown so sick of creating magical far off worlds that the only one I cared to create anymore was the Paris through the hotel maps I’d found. Maybe my imagination isn’t as wild as it was when I was sixteen. But when I stand at the edge of Granville in the beginning of rush hour, everything lights up– there’s far too many places to squeeze between the pages. But I can try, and that’s probably more ambitious than anything I could’ve cooked up back home.
So we’ll see which one ended up being more helpful in the long run. But Winnipeg will probably always be the largest portion of my bedrock, and those wasted days spent biking will always be valuable.
Flying back after only being home for five days sure seemed strange, and there have been few return trips that it’s been as hard to say goodbye to Mom as this one. But the world keeps on moving.