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where the boundary is thin.

September 28, 2013

last night i dreamed about my uncle.

uncle pete passed away in september of 2005, while i was starting my first year of undergrad. missing his funeral was the worst decision i’ve ever made in my life, and i’ll regret it for as long as i live. but i was young and remarkably stupid, and wrapped up in school and homecoming and the struggle of making new friends. that’s my burden to bear, and that’s not what this is about.

in the years since uncle pete passed away, i’ve never dreamed about him. my brother has, and he told me that they were comforting dreams. i’m glad for that. but uncle pete was julian’s godfather, so maybe they had a more special bond. they say that banff gives you vivid and wild dreams. i heard that tunnel mountain – the mountain directly behind the centre – is a healing mountain, and that it controls the dreams. well, buster, i’ve always had vivid and wild dreams. there have been times i’ve woken up crying, or yelled so loud that my family has woken up, too. following break ups or split-ups, i’ve dreamed of past partners with such lucidity that i’ve contacted them the next day to make sure that all was well. i didn’t experience any of these wild dreams here. my brain was too full of words, maybe. my own words, which don’t lend themselves to dreaming. and besides, i’ve dreamed about the lake and the lodge so many times that it’s become old hat now. but then i dreamed about my uncle and i woke up all scatter-headed and full of an intense sadness.

i’ve been in such a strange state today . i’ve cried a lot throughout these past three weeks, actually. it all has a lot with the writing, doesn’t it? you really bring the ghosts up when you sit down and write. and focus inwards. even when the subject matter seems hilarious or light-hearted. i thought this would be easier, finishing this manuscript. it’s a fun mss. i love the people i’m writing about. i genuinely look forward to sitting down and hacking away at it. the research has been interesting and absorbing and i’ve spent many afternoons sitting in the library reading about weetigo or black bears or the hudson’s bay company or the evolution of canadian geography. but i guess the mind wanders. and when you sit and you write like a maniac, focusing only on yourself and going so deep inside, things come to the surface. you tame lions you didn’t even know were still gnawing inside of you. these have been a tough three weeks, actually. it feels almost frivolous to say that, but it’s how i feel. sitting in silence and reflecting on yourself and what you’re writing about and why you chose to write can get overwhelming.

and this is how it’s all related. i’m writing about a fishing lodge. funnily enough, uncle pete was the impetus that got me up to the lodge in the first place – our families planned a memorial fishing trip for him, and i went as a guest. it was one of the best experiences i’ve ever had. and i wouldn’t have gone there if it hadn’t been for him. it’s strange how it all unfolds in front of you, isn’t it? we all have sadness. mine is neither more unique nor more acute than the sadness that anyone else has. i guess i forgot that i was carrying my sadness around with me, even 8 years after the fact. almost to the day, actually.

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1992a

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uncle pete, i really miss you. you looked good and you were smiling. even in my dream, i knew that it was only temporary and that you were only popping by for a visit. my mother said “maybe he knew that you were in a thin place, and that he could contact you.” i’m going to be so selfish to think that he was encouraging me from the place beyond. that’s what feels best, and that’s what’s going to get me to finish this mss.

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