The Island as Elephant in the Room

Finding my way back to enthusiasm for writing these days and writing whatever comes…Here’s a tidbit.

darkdockThat island was the elephant in every single room she occupied.  Every minute of every day it hovered the way a small sloop might float silently off one of its evergreen-grey tips. At the same time, it pushed her away so strongly that she feared she might never find her way back to its story – her story – again.

She closed her eyes and wandered as if in a dream. Rolling green hills. Crumbling waterside roadways. The ocean-side route she’d survey on that walk she’d take almost every single day of every season.

She could feel the breeze slipping in from the rock-pocked beaches. Inhale the scent from the grassy roadside ditches. She’d visit disintegrating cabins, mice traps lying in wait. She’d wonder about the multimillion dollar spectacles, invisible from the narrow windy roads, that very busy people, people who knew how to make real money, flew into a couple times a year.

Then, without any explanation that made sense to her,  she pictured it imploding. All of it. Cracking, twisting and sliding like the vegetable flotsam and jetsam at the bottom of the sink after she’d done the dishes by hand.  Is she the only one who still does dishes by hand?

How many years before climate change, geological shifts, maybe The Big One, would trash the place leaving only a rolling wave as explanation?

Consumerism consumed. Garden sheds, baby grand pianos, pitchforks, farm equipment, handmade pottery, hand blown glass and paintings, wooden fencing, lava lamps, tarot cards, all that jewelry, rusted out island cars and thousands upon thousands of rubber boots – alphaboot soup –  sucked into the beyond and beneath.

She imagined the urgent swirl. Down, down, down towards the rumoured crystal beds that the Dalai Lama had supposedly seen from a plane; crystal beds that surrounded the green and golden relief.  All of it.

Magnificent accumulation to dust.

Until recently, she hadn’t even thought about the shape of her beloved place. Hadn’t committed its outline to memory. Knowing suddenly seemed urgent. Just the other day, looking at a hand drawn map, she spotted a geographic Rorschach, its shape a prehistoric being swooping down from more than 220 million years ago. A Pterodactyl.

Had it always been there?  What created it, geologically, that is?  Her curiosity dormant until now.

She needed, as well, to find a way to incorporate references to all those seekers who’d washed up on its shores, intentionally, or not. To. From.  In search of. Fleeing.  Personal resurrection. Just like her. Different in all their own ways.

First Nations. Chuan. Tuam. African American slaves from Missouri, free at last. Disappointed and nervous about Californian laws, they kept moving north. Pre-empted land. 1859. Four of the first 29 pre-emptors hoping beyond hope.

Sandwich islanders. Portuguese. English. Scots. Farmers. Prospectors. Draft dodgers. Hippies. Modern day Renaissance mavericks. Outsiders.

The brave. The cowards. The hopeful. The hopeless. Incurable individualists. Dreamers.

Human history marked through oral history the way faded pencil marks tick off children’s growth on that kitchen wall on a long gone farmhouse.

Why had the natives considered it such a special place? Had it really been reserved for celebrations, feasts, burials? Was that the truth or rural myth?

Wandering to the end of that road she won’t name, intentionally, won’t share with tourists who flock there each summer, she felt what Indians must have felt a thousand times stronger back then: magnificence. Had their hearts stilled with the same quiet reverence at the waves pulsing against its beaches and thick Auburn stumped poked out from rocky land striving harder than the human inhabitants.

She wanted to capture it all. The emotion, the landscape, and the relief she felt every time her tires made that sharp cracking sound as the car’s weight traversed the metal ferry ramp deposited her; a homecoming, stillness reborn, telling her what she’d always known.

Vancouver had never been the right place. Not her best place. Not really. She never quite fit here in the city and she needed a place to help bury her grass-is-greener ways and to be as content as she might ever hope to be.


    1. Longing? Yes. Returning? Not yet. Momentary and overwhelming nostalgia but actually more a recognition that I’ve haven’t taken enough time to “know” the island in all the ways possible.

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