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diaryland: entry for 2001-07-31 (16:09:00)
In which our plucky young hero could see forever, once.

(I wrote this one just over a year ago, but it still holds true today. People who follow the comic, I apologize for the repost...)

I was reflecting over the weekend on my wasted youth.

This was brought on by an article in eye Weekly, Toronto's #1 paper that wishes it was NOW. An interview with Tricia Fish, the writer of "New Waterford Girl" (look for it at an arthouse near you). I didn't grow up in New Waterford, but I did grow up in nearby Glace Bay, which at one point in time was the largest town in all of Canada. (Trust me, it's much less impressive than it sounds.)

I remember some good times and some bad times (not as bad as I thought they were, and I'm lucky my life did not get too wrecked before I figured that out), but it all tends to run together into a blur punctuated by moments and feelings and observations.

Mostly what I remember is how huge the world was when I was a kid.

I can still clearly recall the thrill of going to Sydney, the city about a half hour down the highway. The city! With twenty-five thousand people! If you weren't careful at Ashby Corner, the traffic could keep you stuck for as long as fifteen minutes at a time. In retrospect, this was more a sign of bad traffic planning than cosmopolitan attitude - a traffic light got put in the year I went away to university.

Walking down Charlotte Street in Sydney was an adventure. There were bookstores and pizza places and actual restaurants and libraries and music stores, and if you walked far enough you'd hit the hobby shop, where you'd find treasures like Shadowrun and Dragon Magazine that you'd never see in a town like Glace Bay. Heck, Sydney even had movie theaters! Not just one of them, but three! (One closed during my time in high school. Of course it was the one where I saw Return of the Jedi.)

I knew vaguely that there were bigger places than Sydney. I'd heard of "Halifax" or "Toronto", but the combination of Cape Breton's isolation and my family's vacation budget meant that they might as well be called "Never-Never Land" and "the Moon". Halifax apparently had three hundred thousand people in it. Wow. You could fit all of Cape Breton's population - the whole island! - into that number and have room to spare. I couldn't imagine the city, though. The number was graspable, because I was always good at arithmetic. But the reality of three hundred thousand people? No way. You're kidding.

Of course, now I live in a city of 210,000, and I regularly visit places that are even bigger. By leaving Cape Breton I opened my eyes to sights that I'd never see back home - the Pacific Ocean, the Rockies, even take-out sushi. But somehow, when I walk through downtown Saskatoon, it just doesn't quite seem as big as downtown Sydney, back in my youth.

Maybe it's just that my feet have grown, so when I walk, the world's gotten smaller.

- Saskatoon, June 5, 2000.

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