Departure Gates

It’s four thirty. As I begin this post, a plane with my best friend on it is lifting off the runway for Calgary. I live in the Yukon. Tomorrow my seventeen year old sister graduates from high school. I’m thirty, and learning that eventualities carry larger emotional payloads than shocks. I remember her many variations, including at five or six with a head full of gold ringlets. We were at a ranch out of town and I took a photograph of her. She had climbed or been placed atop a sand-coloured bust the shape of a bull’s torso. I lost that photo. Most of the photos I’ve ever taken have been taken back in time, if not by it. If not for the failure to treat the capture of those moments as sacred. As finite as time is infinite.

Today my sister is my height. Taller. Her hair a kind of umber brown, straighter, and half way to the floor. I did the math when I was thirteen years old and she none and realized what our ages would be on this some day, this one day. A thirty-year old me; a grown up her. A rough cut of who and what she would become. Is. Today.

I’ve wanted to leave this place since I was her age. I love my friend. I’ve known him since grade five, been friends with him since ten, but only in these last few days as his departure approached have I come to recognize it. Reckon with it. If he is the measure of a friend he is the only one I have.

In 2009, a few years after high school, we both went off to university, him to Calgary and I to Victoria. He returned, having completed his degree, two years before me. I came back for the same and then left again, this time to the east. In 2016 I returned broke and directionless, having accomplished nothing but the attempt. But my friend, my best friend, was here—possibly for a while, I knew, not knowing when that while would end. That it would last until I wrote this. He had planned to leave long before, but the dates he set for departure came and went. I wish I hadn’t taken those delays for granted. I wish there were no planes.

In January I was in an accident that totaled my car yet left me unharmed and alive. My shins were patches of yellow. The few scars I still carry could be mistaken for any minor fall. I haven’t published anything on this or any other site since November 2017, but whatever the reasons for that I can’t let the occasions pass by unmarked. My sister is graduating. My friend is graduating. Both writing the next chapter.

Since we were fourteen he has always been the driver. I remember his grey Nissan pickup, the white Kia four-door he just sold, the ones in between. Last fall I bought my first car at the age of thirty, and wanted to repay him those years, for the favours and being there’s. I had planned to get in my car in June, next month, and drive into B.C. with my few belongings and no particular plan. I could fold the seats and sleep on them, under the sunroof and stars. My sister graduates at ten thirty in the morning. My friend is hours into his new life. This post isn’t complete yet but I’m posting it anyway. If not now then when. If not today, why.

The end will change, but it’s a start.

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