21 October 2013

Time Bubbles

Moving to another province and entering a public schooling system for the first time in my life was... surreal. It felt like I was in a bubble -- that my life in Alberta was 'paused' and I had picked up a life in Saskatchewan that existed in linear time, but not on the same track my time in Alberta had been. (Believe it or not, this is the best way to explain it.)

They were so separate, so easily. In fact, so much so that when my mother and my sister came to pick me up on Thursday (to take me back to Alberta for reading week), it was very jarring to see them in that context. I'm used to my dorm mates walking around the halls and in our room, not my mother and sister. My brain was flashing 'incongruency detected' at me throughout dinner and then as we left the college campus. In fact, it didn't really start feeling normal until we stopped for fuel at Rosetown.

Saskatchewan and Alberta are so different. Saskatchewan has no trees. Even the towns are tiny and they're few and far between. I feel like the town I'm going to college in is one of the larger ones (maybe it's just because you see more people there though), and even their population doesn't reach a thousand. Once you cross the border into Alberta, the difference is almost instant. There's almost this sigh of relief -- civilization! In Saskatchewan, Subway is pretty much the only chain-anything you will see (outside of farm equipment dealers). I spent two months in Saskatchewan and I have yet to see a Wendy's. In Alberta there's one in nearly every town.

But enough about the social/geographical differences.

Coming back home after a two-month absence was kind of odd -- we parked in front of the garage, like we always do, and I grabbed some of my stuff, walked inside and dropped it all on the same spot at the table as I've always done. And as I did so, there was this sense that no time had passed. It was as if the 'Play' button had been pressed, and things were picking up where they had left off. It was like my entire time in Saskatchewan, all those classes and tests I've taken and the people I've met... it was like it had all been a dream, and this was my reality, here, now. And it was odd because I expected these once-normal things to be more foreign to me.

On one hand it was a relief... I was terrified that I would come back to Alberta and nothing would be the same, and I'm glad that wasn't the case -- nothing drastic has changed. But on the other hand it's a little frightening. Two months have gone by (almost). Two months. And it feels like nothing. This calls up the question: how much time has to pass before it feels like something? How much time can be wasted before we start to feel it? The answer scares me... two months between leaving the house and returning to it was as if maybe a couple of hours had passed. What if it's several years before you feel like time has really passed? Or several decades? You could spend decades wasting your life and not feeling it. You could conceivably spend decades inside a certain bubble of time and not realise it until it pops too late.

Seriously, it feels like I never left. Four days after leaving Saskatchewan I'm having a hard time remembering my dorm mates and all the classes as something that really happened, not just a dream I had. It feels so normal and 'right' here. I get the sense that leaving Alberta to finish the semester will be much, much harder than the first time I left...

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