As I sit down to contemplate something to write, I hear John Denver* singing. Something Jason is watching is playing that John Denver song "Take Me Home, Country Roads". A John Denver documentary maybe? Nope, now I hear Johnny Cash, an odd combination. What they do have in common, though, is that in my lifetime both have gone from cool to lame (or fodder for late night talk show hosts - John Denver in the early 90s) and back to cool again (Johnny Cash, in particular, John Denver not so much). Something to do with nostalgia (and mortality), I guess. I never really listened to Johnny Cash until I met Jason - he was a fan (or at least familiar) because his Dad was, kind of like CCR for me. John Denver, though, I've always had a soft spot for him because of his appearances with the Muppets. John Denver and the Muppets Christmas Album is still a part of my annual seasonal play list. I'm going to take this admission as a sign that I'm pretty comfortable in my skin because I can be guaranteed that some readers think John Denver is distinctly uncool and I'm okay with that.
"Take Me Home" is resonating with me right now, in particular. Probably because I just returned from one of those visits that is just the perfect amount of time - short enough that you are sad to leave but long enough for a serious glimpse into the possibilities of place. I am content with the life we have here but I am drawn by both nostalgia and possibility to Alberta. I long for the smell of northern Alberta in the fall when the leaves decay. I long for nights that don't see darkness for more than a couple hours in summer. I long for crisp clear nights when the northern lights dance. I long for friends that I've known since kindergarten. I long to be nearer to my Mum and Dad. It's also hard not to feel excited by the pulse and pace of a place where the labour shortage is palpable here and now. I know there are downsides to most of the things I just wrote: those extended hours of light in the summer come with extended hours of darkness in the winter; the labour shortage comes with increased costs of living, congestion, and long lines as virtually every service industry is understaffed; and, in reality, I probably don't have a lot in common with those friends that I've known since kindergarten beyond age and history. History is important, though, and so is family and that's why I am always going to be drawn to northern Alberta no matter how happy I am here. Next time I will just need to visit longer (you know, long enough so that I can leave feeling confident that the grass is greener on this side).
* I know, I totally got carried away with the links but I felt like I couldn't just link John Denver and not the rest that I mentioned. Kind of like how Hunter can't choose which stuffy to take to bed so takes ten or none. No happy medium here.