Last night, my son dug up our old Sony video camera. We had purchased it in 1999 when we were leaving the west coast to move here to Ontario. Using it to sieze and corral every bit of what we loved and were leaving behind, we took tapes and tapes of footage of the pack and move. There were tapes where the video was strapped to the dashboard of our '84 Tercel as we roamed favourite and familiar sideroads through forest and oceanside running personal commentary so we'd never forget. "Oh, I've always loved that house. Or quick, turn here, this is where we saw the herring run." Knowing human memory can fail, we wanted proof that we had lived in one of the most beautiful places in the world. That for a precious five years, we lived in a smalltown beach community.
The camera did its job well. As each of our friends came to say goodbye, some local and some travelling from the mainland to spend scheduled weekends with us, we talked of the past, how we came to know and love each other and looked toward a future where the telephone would be the only link.
Watching the tapes last night, all I could think was that we were all so young. My son was only 16. His fresh sweet face was registering great glee over a newly aquired drivers licence and in many takes, he was the driver. He was leaving his home, but I don't recall him being negative in the least. He looked forward to a new start.
What I saw on my own face was quite different. Younger yes, but not fresher. My expressions were sadder, more harried. Shots of us carrying items out for a huge garage sale, of best friends meeting for a good-bye party singing and praying together after a big feast. Pasted smiles at times, when I wanted to collapse and scream, "why are we doing this?"
For I loved my time on the Sunshine Coast. Though financially it had been a challenge, its beauty surpassed it all. On this coast, we had lived in a heritage house on the beach, rented a little cabin on 11 acres of wood and built a big Cape Cod style house of our own. We were accustomed to daily breaths of salt air and views of changing seas. No wonder we wanted it all on film.
At one point on the tape, we were standing on the wharf in Roberts Creek panning the ocean and it struck me that just about everyone we knew and loved had come to visit and stand in that place. Family, friends from far and wide. Because it was beautiful. Because it was remote. Because for some reason, we were there and we were loved.
Much time has passed. Though we have fallen in love with Ontario, its beauty, its variety, most of my closest friends are on those tapes. Like us, many have left the coast....for Europe, for other parts of Canada and even the US. But for one brief moment, we all lived there together and I'm thankful for the old video camera that tied it all up like a gift to show it again and again.