I stood alone at the airport; it was storming outside and thick white snow blanketed the tarmac and I was silently grateful I was flying at all, even though my plane was a few hours late. My feet were still both on solid ground and I was in line to board my tardy aircraft with other people who were flying to Vancouver for their own unstated reasons, of which I was unsure but always wondered about just a little bit.
I felt my eyes prick with moisture looking out onto the runway; employees donning their neon vests worked to clear snow, a task that seemed futile as it rained down in large, icy sheets and blowing across the ground with too great of force to be dealt with; the lights outside straining to illuminate everything in its foggy, frigid pathway; airplanes sitting stoic at their gates looking like great steel ghosts. And I was leaving. I would be leaving. At this moment, my leave was symbolic, necessary, too much anticipated; to get on an airplane and fly somewhere, even somewhere as familiar as Vancouver, was symbolic of leaving behind the problems I was facing for just a few glorious days. It didn’t even matter what I was doing there or who I was seeing – the fact was, I was leaving. I was being airlifted out, and not a moment too soon.
The only times I’ve ever seen Vancouver’s sunny skies, the mountaintops in full view and not lost below a burden of gray, foggy clouds, is in February; both this year and last year I made a February trip to one of my favourite cities and that was when I could see the sunshine. Another of Vancouver’s symbolic gestures to me; that leaving behind the snowed-on, icy barren cold of Edmonton allowed me to, for the first time in ages, see green, and see the sun, and remember what springtime feels like. And even if this feeling was only for a few short days, it felt like this grand symbol was repairing in me something broken, re-instilling a kind of hope I couldn’t have even asked for, and reminding me that maybe, just four or five months in the near-distant future, this hope, this healing, would find permanence in my life. I forgot about everything else and settled into the sunny skies, the refreshing cool morning air as I traipsed joyfully around downtown Vancouver by myself with my coffee and my too-heavy boots.
The world was strained then, and confusing, and troubles were weighing on my troubled mind. They still weigh, but not as much as they did then; because then, I didn’t know. And now I do. And sometimes, not knowing, is the best way – the only way – to help you get what you need in that sordid, tragic moment.