Saturday, December 25, 2010
The North End of Winnipeg to the Heart of Georgia
I sadly left Winnipeg on Monday... napped on tarmacs and in airports in Winnipeg; Fort Wayne, Indiana and Chicago before arriving home 24 hours later in Atlanta. That night was my friends annual holiday party, followed by working three 12 hour shifts at the hospital... a jump start back to real life.
Then, we arrived at Christmas - A quite Christmas as my family is in Texas and Ohio. But a WHITE CHRISTMAS! This may sound strange to my Canadian counterparts but our last official "White Christmas" in Atlanta was in 1881 when a whole 1.6 inches fell (that's 4 cm). Outside my window is at least 2 inches of snow that has fallen just this evening and there is more coming. A true reason to celebrate... and stay off the roads. We don't know how to drive in snow, much less ice here in Georgia. Schools will close. They have cancelled 300 flights out of the busiest airport in the US (ours). With the fall of snow - life freezes here. But in that frozen moment, you can reflect. When life is still like this, it becomes reflective... and kinda glistens. At least it does at my window sill.
This morning I only had one Christmas gift to open. You see, my family had already given me money to buy warm clothes for my trip and I had sacrificed my Christmas trip home to go to Canada. But on the night of the last Weakerthans show at the Burton Cummings Theater, a dear friend I had made had given me a wrapped present. What? Really? A Christmas present from a Winnipegger? Knowing I would not have any gifts at home this year (other than the dog's gifts of course), I told her I would keep it wrapped until Christmas Day. So, today I unwrapped a gift from Winnipeg, of Winnipeg:
I put on Reunion Tour and traveled through the North End through the pages of this book. What a nice piece to take home with me and by which to remember such a momentous trip.
I have traveled all over the world. I have lived in the UK and San Francisco.... and I just don't understand how this happened but in one week I felt like I learned what Winnipeg was about more than any of these other places. I can tell you about Georgia... our guilt... our sarcasm... the way we hide our inadequacies deeply in charm. But I have lived here for 12 years. This was learned over the experience of years of digging below the surface. Winnipeg on the other hand wears it's history, inadequacies and love on it's sleeve. Little digging was needed. No one was hiding anything. It was such a different, refreshing and unexpected experience. Don't get me wrong. I adore Georgia and the lengths it will go to look pretty and be charming when under the surface it is a mess.... a beautiful mess, but a mess nonetheless. Likewise, I lived in San Francisco in 2008-2009 and it is the most beautiful place I have ever lived... but after a year there I left with one dear friend whom I will always be close to. One. So, how is it that in one week in Winnipeg I met 10 people whom I want to know forever? And we Georgians think we have charm.
Thank you Jacquie for this gift. It means the world to me... and surely you and everyone else is trying to plant seed to get me back to Winnipeg. It bet you are gonna be successful. In fact, I am considering foregoing SxSw this year for a trip to Folk Fest in Winnipeg. No promises yet, but I kinda want to see the "summers" you say you have to see if they really exist.
Sadly, I didn't really get to see the North End while there. I think I was driven through the tail end of it once, but I did not get to really see it. Too little time, too much to do. I guess this is more reason for a return.
Here is the only reason that I originally knew that the North End existed:
I have been mulling over where my blog writing goes from here. This is a travel blog and it's meant to have an end. I have been honored that some of you have written me and asked me to keep writing -- that you are reading and listening. "Keep writing" and "Write about anything" -- How touching. Wow. I don't know if I have ever been told anything like that before. What I am considering is perhaps doing a blog about Georgia, mostly Atlanta, and why I think we have such a big, beautiful and complicated heart. So, let's just say it's under consideration. You can keep in touch here or email me at andygish at gmail dot com if you want to be kept in the loop for that.