August found me crying into my nachos at Cannons. My cold nachos – Natalie and I always end up talking too much (somehow, she manages to clean her plate while I take mine home for the dog. Molly loves the jalapenos).
“I just need direction,” I said, discreetly blotting tears with a salsa stained napkin.
At loose ends after graduation, I had decided that since I didn’t know what the heck I wanted to do, a fulfilling life (and as such, a happy one), meant: things. So, I began to check off a list chosen with what can only be early twenties logic.
Two jobs, two moves, and a trip abroad later, I sat across from my best friend in our favorite booth, with my beloved vehicle outside, an iPhone at my elbow buzzing with texts, and a beautiful, anxious dog waiting for me to come home (preferably with nachos).
Obviously, things can’t make you happy (only help), and I wasn’t. I felt uncomfortable with my life. I liked my job, but was in a holding pattern, waiting for a position that never seemed to come around. I liked the city, but it had become old hat. The ladies at the deli knew what I wanted for lunch before I opened my mouth, and my favorite Saturday coffee was also wordlessly prepared for me at the market. I’d memorized the mall, had favorite booths at favorite restaurants, called the homeless downtown by name, and I knew every board of the walking bridge, which will always be, irresistibly, the best part of Fredericton. I liked someone – maybe more like a wicked crush – but it didn’t seem to be mutual.
I fit uncomfortably in my life. And that can be blamed on reading. There are just too many books about sailing, climbing, exploring, discovering, romancing, adventuring… I couldn’t justify wearing a path around Fredericton, when I was young, unattached, willing to work, up for anything, when I could, should, would be on an adventure? But since I still didn’t know what the heck to do, I just publicly cried over nachos.
Clicking through internal job postings at work, I ranged into further territory – Nunavut, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories. I skimmed down the page of jobs (one job) and exited, not even thinking that could be me, or rather thinking it, but not believing in it. But out of idle curiosity, my fingers started typing to my mom: “What would you think of me going to Nunavut?” She responded: “I think you would thrive.”
That weekend, I found myself aimlessly driving around the city, a rare occurrence, thanks to the push and pull of my SUV (driving is fun! you’re wasting so much gas! but it’s such fun! etc). Realization struck somewhere between the walking bridge and my apartment: You’re saying goodbye to Fredericton.
When I told my branch manager I wanted to apply, she looked at me askance. “Did you look Cambridge Bay up? Do you know what you’re getting into?”
“Yes,” I said (truthfully having googled the shit out of Cambridge Bay, but not actually knowing what I was getting into). “And I really want it.”
Then before I knew it my new manager was telling me over a crackly line that I was the successful candidate, and then I was trying to call people to tell them I was moving to Nunavut, and no one was answering. My mother had known I was going to call her that afternoon, couldn’t handle waiting, and went and sat in the bath, without the phone.
And then – “I have an announcement to make,” my branch manager said, gathering everyone together in the lobby. “Our little Rachel is leaving us. She’s going to Cambridge Bay. Does anyone know where that is?”
No one did. “Nunavut?” someone exclaimed. “We want none of it!”
But I did.
And now here I am, in Nunavut. Without my car, my phone, or my dog.
I stumbled off the plane a month ago, wind blowing my hair all over the place on the tarmac. You could almost see the recently discarded tags fluttering on my new ski jacket and boots, which were irrecoverably covered in mud five minutes later. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, and I still don’t, but at the very least, I feel comfortable about what I’m doing, and I’m excited to tell people what I do. I feel like the outside fits the inside, or something like that. And there is still so much to discover.