As we head home I can’t help but feel divided. I’m excited to get back into the studio. Eager to finish the project that sits on my work table and begin a new one with the driftwood we packed back from the beach. Yet, at the same time, my chest has this hollow ache of melancholy that casts a shadow on the coming road trip.
It’s always like this when leaving Gabriola, the mixed emotions and struggle for balance as I try to exist in two places. There is this huge gulf between living in Alberta and living in British Columbia, beyond the obvious land and water masses that separate my two homes. Symbolised by the two-hour ferry ride across the Salish Sea, it becomes something more complex than simple distance between two locations. The journey between Vancouver Island and the mainland is when time seems to pause as the sky melts and becomes the sea. While my physical body is transported across the open expanse of water I experience a multitude of emotions, specific to if I am arriving or if I am leaving Gabriola.
When I arrive on Gabriola I feel like I am shedding a layer of myself, that outside bit of restriction, it’s like I am a round peg finally able to step out of a square hole. The parts of me that have been compressed into that square box of expectation can finally breathe. The air is lighter, cleaner somehow, nature is closer and I’m a part of it all. As much as I love Alberta, fitting myself back into that square hole upon returning, is always difficult. Every. Single. Time.
I love northern Alberta, I love its landscape, the climate, the sky, the soil, it’s plants and animals. It has been my home for my entire life, but Gabriola has shown me there is another way to live. On Gabriola I discover a part of myself that Alberta has never revealed. Only in the heart of the Rocky Mountains do I catch a hint of the other me, where the earth reaches to the sky and I am the connection point between the two.
How I feel about Gabriola goes beyond the concept of love. It’s more visceral somehow, a connection that I can feel deep within my chest. If my hearing were more acute I’m sure that I would hear an audible ‘click’ as all the parts fit together. Gabriola, the sea and its smells, the trees, the rain, the birds, it speaks to something within me and tells me I am home. More than just the landscape and environment is different between Alberta and the Gulf Islands, I am different.