Last night my housemates and I began to pack up our belongings as we prepare to move out of the Eco Lodge. Our lease expires on October 31st.
In many ways it's kind of surreal to be leaving. After four months, I've grown used to this place, and I imagine Arthur and Megan have, too--the pace of life here is slow, the peace nearly absolute.
In many ways it's paradise, even as the weather turns colder, and I know I'll miss it intensely when I'm gone. I would stay, too, if I had someone to share it with. But it's a hard space to be alone.
I've been lonely up here, my housemates notwithstanding. That's been the main challenge. I haven't had many opportunities to meet people, and when I have, I've torpedoed them all, consciously or subconsciously.
I just haven't felt ready to be vulnerable again, and it's easy to sit up here in the wilderness and be closed off from just about everything, even when my heart, you know, aches to find someone again.
So I think it's time to come out of the woods and put some work into that, real work.
I'd hoped to have some professional triumph to brag about while I was up here, to accomplish some kind of capstone to point to as tangible proof of how this place has moved and inspired me.
In the absence of any monumental achievement, it can suffice to say that I'm still blessed in all of the usual ways: with good health and good fortune, able to spend my days how I choose, where I choose, with people and a dog that I love.
And if I don't have a capstone accomplishment, I'll still leave here with plenty of fond memories.
I'll treasure the stillness of the lake on the days that were calm, and the way the wind blew across it on the days that weren't.
The clear, bracing water and how lovely it felt on those days in late August and early September, when Lucy and I would walk to the lake for a midafternoon dip.
I'll treasure that walk, four miles up a two-lane blacktop and over the pass, surrounded by high peaks and plunging waterfalls.
I'll remember poring over the history of the area, the geography. Learning the names of those mountains and the path of the rivers and how people have lived among them for millennia.
It's obviously a place that inspires poetic thought, if not florid prose.
I'll remember the daily hunt for trains on the sparsely-used track that parallels the road, and how on one fine day in July one of those trains derailed into the lake, and for weeks afterward the stillness was broken by the sound of men and women at work, in the water and around it, repairing the line and cleaning the mess.
I'll remember being fascinated by their efforts, and grateful that the lake remained more or less pristine.
I'll remember the rope swing on the far shore of the lake, and the rocky little beaches, and how exhilarated I felt whenever Arthur and I swam from one shore to the other.
I'll remember every curve of the road into town, every downshift, the grumpy guy at the town dump and the nice guy, too.
I'll remember at exactly which spot on the road you get cell service again, and how the speed limit drops to 30kph in Mt. Currie, where dogs roam and chase cars with abandon.
I'll remember driving into the Pemberton Valley and believing it may well be the loveliest place on earth.
And I'll remember how our own valley looked when the air got crisp and the leaves exploded in colour, and I'll feel wistful, a little bit, that I wasn't here to see winter.
And I'll remember--and miss, fondly--the rhythm of life with my housemates. The campfires, the crazy, silly jokes. The comfortable stillness of the house when we were all hard at work.
The "New Girl" marathons and the simple invaluable luxury of sitting down at the dinner table every night for a meal with a couple of my favourite people.
(And a beggar dog, too.)
But it's time to go. Arthur and Megan are moving to Hawaii, and I have to get over whatever it is that's blocking me from finding somebody new.
The valley will be here long after we're gone, and I can always come back; it's not so far. In the meantime, the city awaits.
I'm not sure what comes next. We'll be living together in Vancouver for November, anyway, and after that I'm really not sure.
I have a few irons in the fire; what I do in December and beyond will depend on which of those irons heats up, and how hot.
Ideally, though, I'd like to finish this year as a nomad and then find a home base for the New Year. I'd like to establish some security in my career, enough that I can settle down for a bit.
I'd like to find someone to fall in love with.
And maybe someday I'll bring them back here, to this valley, and I'll show them the mountains and the lake and the lodge, and I'll tell them about the four wonderful months I spent here with my friends.