Write It Out: Instruction Video
‘I reconnected with my father when I was in my late twenties, and shortly after that, he took me home to Sioux Lookout. It was the first time I had been home since leaving as a toddler, and I did not know what to expect. Going home is fraught with hopes and unrealistic expectations, and I had plenty of both and a lot of hours to ruminate on them.
It’s a long drive from Niagara Falls to Sioux Lookout; people don’t often realize how massive the province of Ontario is. You can start in Ontario, drive for twenty-four hours, and still be in Ontario. The geography changes, and although the highway goes up and down as it travels around Lake Superior, you are mostly going up into the Canadian Shield. There are long stretches empty of people, towns that you blink and miss — and then we were there. But not really there.
. . .
On that visit, I met my grandmother, living by then in Sioux Lookout, and it was a bittersweet meeting. All these moments were fraught with hope and unrealistic expectations because, like Umfreville itself, we are not what we used to be. Our lives have moved in different directions, and our shared memories stop at the same place as the photographs that recorded them. There were people who remembered me, people who remembered stories about me, and in the intervening years, they had periodically wondered what had happened to me. This was not a surprise. I had also leafed through the photo album and wondered what had happened to them.
But what was a surprise was the undeniable sensation that the land and water remembered me too. I stood beneath stands of black spruce and looked across the lake, and it felt so familiar that it ached. I went down to the rocky beach and put my hands in the water, and it remembered me. I cannot tell you how or why I knew that. It was completely unexpected, this sensation of both remembering and being remembered. I can only describe it as electric.’
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