Seeking the Past

A few days ago, when I was visiting Sharyn in Mannville, Alberta, I asked her if she’d be willing to drive me to Myrnam. Later, she told me that her first thought was “Why does he want to go there? It’s just an ordinary village.” Ha, ha! Perhaps this makes me strange, Sharyn.

Maybe thirty-five years ago, I was in this area of Alberta, visiting family. I crested the hill west of Myrnam just before sunset. A vast vista of rolling hills and ponds greeted me, bathed in a warm pinkish light. I was stunned by the beauty. And I’ve carried that sublime vision with me to Ontario and beyond. “Myrnam. Ahh.”

Now it’s 2019, and I’m approaching that hill once more, this time in the full light of day. But something’s wrong: there’s no vista, the light is flat, the gazing down seems blocked by trees. Where’s the magic? In response, I’m so disoriented. Did I make all this up? Have I held onto a lie all these years?

***

Yesterday, I drove down from near Edmonton to Lethbridge to visit Jody’s uncle Ray. Five hours of big sky and the sweet contours of the land. I booked a room in the Lethbridge Lodge Hotel, a place of memories: Jody and I having a cocktail in the lounge in an interior courtyard full of towering trees and splendid flowering plants. The breakfast room full of conversation and slanting sun.

The current truth was different. The hotel is under reconstruction. Towering blue tarps reduce the lobby to a temporary front desk. The lounge in the courtyard is gone, replaced by rectangular tables apparently only used for the breakfast buffet. The room of vast windows is now an Italian restaurant, with tiny panes bringing in only a small fraction of the outside world. Who pulled away my memories?

And now I smile. Clinging to images of the past … and then letting them go. Silly goose. I vote for the future. After all, my eyeballs do point forward. What moments can we create together just beyond the horizon?