In Which I Answer Your Questions About Place

On Sunday, I asked you to give me questions to answer. This was something I had done over two years ago and forgotten about, but when I unearthed those old entries in my archives, I just had to do it again. Your asking and my answering your questions really allowed me to experience that sense of conversation with you and pushed me to write about things I would not necessarily have written about.

I took your questions from Sunday's entry, grouped them according to kind — questions about place, music, the Palinode and I, blogging, and miscellany — and decided that questions about place were where I would begin. I considered answering all your questions in one entry, but I just don't have it in me to write a novella-length entry today, and I doubt you have it in you to read one.

So, here are your questions and my answers pertaining to place.

The N Word asked:
What's your favorite place and what are some memories or incidents that happened there?

One of my favourite places is Waskesiu in Prince Albert National Park, Canada. My family rented a cabin there for a week or two every summer throughout my childhood, and that place breathed a sense of freedom into me that sustained my spirit as a thinker, creative, and introvert.

Life back in the city was filled with so many expectations that my days often felt like an ongoing obstacle course built around social rules I could barely figure out. How I should sit, walk, talk, behave, be a girl, feel about God, etc. weighed on me when I was a kid. I wanted to know why these things were important for the individual beyond the social contract, because behaving by rote was terrifyingly empty.

I was a child in need of some lightening up.

In the city, people worried when I read too much or stepped back from group activities with other kids or spent too much time dreaming alone in my room. I was to be more social, smile more, and take more interest in whatever little girls were supposed to worry about. At Waskesiu, the pressures of femininity vanished in the face of a dearth of public bathrooms shared among the renters, a preponderance of dirt, and the need for practical clothing. No one seemed to mind when I disappeared on long walks or into elaborate make-believe fantasies. I was free to experience myself in a way I could not while under the social thumb of city life, and I am so grateful to have been given those all-too-brief experiences when I was a kid.

The N Word also asked:
What are some fascinating cultures that you love?
I have not been able to really entrench myself within another culture to know that I love it, as I have come into contact with other cultures mostly through friendships with people from immigrant families. A country, rather than a culture, that fascinates me is India. It is a country with such a diversity of terrain, religion, ethnicity, etc. that I wouldn't know where to begin. Also, it's warm, and I live in a place with too much winter and bland food. It's easy to dream of India when your ears are on fire from the early stages of frostbite and you're staring down another plate full of starch.

A culture that I love and find fascinating of which I am actually a part is weblog culture. For over six years, I have been watching people organize and align themselves, bravely creating communities and cultures both attached to real life and at times separate from those identities, and every day I can't wait to see where it is going, how it is moving, and dream about where it could end up and where it could put each of us as individuals. We're a bit like mutating viruses in a petri dish, only I like us.

JChevais asked:
I grew up in Calgary suburbs so basically, in a non-stalkerish kind of way, I want to know if we were neighbors. Which burb were you in?

Until I was seven years old, I grew up in the Dalhousie neighbourhood in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. It was kind of a strange place, because there were no sidewalks in front of the houses. Instead, the sidewalks were behind the houses in place of the alleyways. As a result, we kids ended up spending most of our time playing right out in the street. When we eventually moved to a new neighbourhood with normal sidewalks in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, I had to learn new rules about things like not playing in the middle of the road. I thought everyone was really paranoid about safety until I was nearly hit by a car driven by someone who wasn't used to rogue kids from Dalhousie.

Alyce asked:
Would you please tell me more about where you live? The town, I mean, not your home. Did you choose to live there, or end up there by accident? If you could live anywhere on the planet (money and visa concerns aside), where would that be?

I moved to Regina, Saskatchewan when the Palinode and I married in August 2001. If not for the Palinode, I never would have chosen to live here. Small pockets of the city are beautiful, while the rest is in various states of degeneration or big-boxification or some such undesirable thing, and our city government seems to like it that way. They tried to shut down libraries in poorer areas and centralize the education system to far-flung areas of the city, essentially attempting to rob communities with less money of infrastructure that goes a long way to maintain cultural unity. It's crazy-making. I have met some wonderful people here, though, and for that reason, I don't regret the move.

Strangely, if I could live anywhere on the planet, I think I would still live in Canada, although I would relocate to the east coast, likely to Halifax, and then travel a lot. I would love it if I could put myself in the position to treat my home as a place to create and regroup in between bouts of travel. I haven't spent much time travelling in my life, but I can feel a wanderlust in my blood.

Thanks for the questions so far! I will be back tomorrow with another fascinating round of answers. In fact, I will back every day this week with more answers, you curious monkeys, you.