Some time during the first week of September, a little brown envelope from the Canadian government arrived in the mail. Andy’s visitor’s visa had expired; his application to extend it a second time had been denied, and he had until September 30th to leave the country. A savvy immigration lawyer helped us buy an additional month, but the writing was on the wall.
We’d been living together in Kamloops since the previous winter, and although we’d known from the start that we’d eventually have to face the music and either begin an extensive, complicated immigration process, or move somewhere we could both live and work legally, we were far from ready to face this inevitability.
Correction. Andy was ready. As a US citizen with no rights to work in Canada, he was living off a dwindling savings account and after more than a year’s sabbatical, wanted to get his career back on track. He wanted me to move back to the US with him (I’m a dual US-Canadian citizen which means I have unlimited rights to live and work on both sides of the border), and I’d been actively looking for academic librarian jobs in places like Alaska, Montana and Utah – pretty much anywhere close to mountains with good skiing plus enough of an economic base for Andy to find work in his field. In other words, anywhere we’d both be happy. I’d been a finalist for a few opportunities, but despite countless hours spent putting together the lengthy, complicated applications required for most jobs in my field, by early September, nothing solid had panned out. Oddly enough, just a week before we finally left Kamloops, we both wound up getting jobs within a couple of days of each other – but in different cities. Andy’s job was in Seattle; mine was just south of Salt Lake City in Utah. I felt extremely lucky to find something not just in my field, but in the kind of role that would position me very well to advance in my career. But Andy’s gig paid more and from a practical economic standpoint, it made more sense to go to Seattle.
I’ve taken a leave of absence until January 2016 from my librarian job in Kamloops, which means I have the option to come back. I’ve since found work as an adjunct faculty librarian at a college about 45 minutes south of where we live, but it’s very very part-time. And so, I have a lot of time to run these days, which is part of the reason why we decided to live in Issaquah. The trail running community loves this area for the trifecta that is Tiger, Squak and Cougar mountain -i.e. the “Issaquah Alps”. “Alps” is no joke; these are climby little hills. My go-to daily run up Squak, for example, climbs over 700 meters in just under 5 kilometers if you go all the way to the radio tower at the top. (I know I should stop using metric at some point here, but I guess I’m resisting the switch. Worldwide, the US is pretty much the last holdout on this so they’re bound to come to their senses one of these days, no?)
East of Issaquah, the hills, and with them, the quality of the mountain running, grows exponentially. Just a 15 minute drive east in the Snoqualmie Pass/North Bend area, you can run up a hiking trail to the summit of Mount Si which tops out at almost 4,000 feet (look – not metric!) A bit further east you’ll find many many access points to the Cascades alpine between Mt. Baker to the north and Rainier to the south. But beyond Si and maybe Rattlesnake Ridge, most of this is getting a bit snowy for running. Plus, frankly, I find the almost-always-overcast skies and rain typical of this time of year more than a little uninspiring.
Having grown up on Vancouver Island, I’m no stranger to wet dark weather, and I’ve long known that I suffer from a bit (a lot?) of Seasonal Affective Disorder. All in all, I’m homesick. I miss my job. So much unstructured time spent alone in a place where I have almost no friends at this point is lonely and frankly, feels unhealthy. I miss running in the grasslands around Kamloops – the sun, the open skies, the views. And I’m indulging in far too much feeling sorry for myself. I know I should just “buck up”, find something to do with my time, and make the best of things. But I’m just not feeling it right now. I don’t seem to have much energy for anything. If the weather was nice, I’m sure I’d at least be getting outdoors and enjoying the mountains. But the rainy weather here leaves me struggling to motivate myself to even go for a run. And when I do, the effect is less than therapeutic. For some people, running seems to purge negative emotions and bring about a calmer state of mind. For me, it just amplifies whatever I’m already feeling. So, when I’m generally content, a good run makes me feel ecstatic. When I’m down, a run can make me want to shout at the trees, or just sob.
I’m glad Andy’s getting a chance to get his career back on track, and I know I’ll have an easier time adjusting to life here in the spring & summer when the sun comes back out and the endless drizzle here dries up for the season. And maybe also once it finally snows enough to make skiing a regular option. But for now, I’m just lacing up my trail shoes & grumbling through the mud and the rain.