I tried about six different introductions for this entry; exactly none of them worked, and so I’m left here listening to “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters, watching Manchester United/Aston Villa (currently tied 0-0 at half time) and waiting for the day’s first cup of coffee to kick in. I was brutally roused from my sleep at 5:37 this morning by my father barking “Let’s go, Bonzo–I let you sleep in!” (Bri, in case you’re wondering where the Bri Crane gets its beligerence…well, now you know.) I was thus forced to wake up after a mere three hours’ sleep and drive my parents to Pearson for their flight to Halifax; afterwards I had vague plans of going back to sleep, but the combination of Man United and a Tim Hortons that offers toasted coconut donuts effectively dashed those ambitions. It is now 8:45am; I’ve been awake for three hours, the beginnings of a vicious headache are beginning to creep in…and Duran Duran just started playing on iTunes. Taken together, these aren’t exactly the signs that point towards a productive morning.
(“I’m on the hunt / I’m after you”…honestly, did Ted Branscombe write these lyrics? Oh, but I digress.)
Today marks a significant milestone for me. No, not a “wow, I heard ‘Satan’s Bed’ live two years ago today!” kind of milestone, but something far more important. Four years ago today I moved away from Thunder Bay, my hometown, and in doing so essentially left the first part of my life behind. I’ve been back five times since then (with #6 less than three weeks away…Pearl Jam at the Fort William Gardens, baby!), but no matter how often I go back it will never be the same to me again. Which is ironic, really, when you consider that Thunder Bay is a city that time has, to all intents and purposes, forgotten: with the exception of a couple new big box stores, a noticeable eroding of the city’s economic base (the city’s houseing market, for instance, is in free fall) and a new set of traffic lights outside the Real Canadian Superstore, this is the exact same place I left behind. There is something at once reassuring and depressing about it–reassuring in that it still feels like home (which Toronto, as much as I love it, has yet to become), depressing in that the city is clearly dying, while returning fills me with a deep, nostalgic yearning.
Sometimes, something affects you to an extent that words just won’t come out. This, clearly, is one of those instances: I’ve been trying for four years to articulate my feelings about Thunder Bay and my complicated relationship with my hometown, but so far I’ve utterly failed. I feel as though my love for Bruce Springsteen stems, in part, from his catalogue of songs about people and small towns (“My Hometown”, from the Born in the U.S.A. album, is probably an obvious example, but its lyrics are nonetheless wholly appropriate). In fact, it’s probably too early in the morning to even attempt a topic as complex as this; I think I’m going to get back to the United game (1-0 now, a tap-in for van Nistelrooy) and leave the heavy thinking for another time.