And so, my friends, the time has come . . .

I gave up wearing a watch in 1991 when the glass became so scratched that I no longer could tell which way Goofy’s arms were pointing.
Since then, sans-watch, I have learned to mark the passing of time through events. Landmarks in life.
We all do it. How many times do you count down the days until your birthday? Christmas? The next fishing tournament?
Well, for me, I’ve been counting down the days until I get to go home.
Let me explain.
I marked my summer in Fort Frances through landmarks etched in time, in my mind, in my daybook. Some of them were more consistent: another deadline, production night, editorial meeting, Monday morning.
Others were a little farther apart: the Emo Walleye Classic, Castin’ for Cash at Lake Despair, the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
But the best thing about these landmarks, these dates inked on my calendar, is the life that fell in between. Over the last three months or so, much life has existed there—much kindness, friendship, thoughtfulness, and fun.
And, of course, it wouldn’t be completely living if those happy times weren’t speckled with a few painful ones.
Such is life.
But I must confess, I had an ulterior motive in marking the passing of days, weeks, and months with events—I was paving my way home through busy-ness.
For each passing fishing tournament meant I was that much closer to my return to Ottawa. I longed for my city, for my family, my friends, my apartment, my life.
But as I sped from one regularly-scheduled program to the next (all the while desperately trying to make time evaporate), I realized something: with all the energy I was vainly pouring into making the time pass, I was missing out on life around me.
I was essentially living for something, forever in pursuit. The irony is that when I left, I couldn’t wait to get away for awhile.
Having something to look forward to is not altogether bad. But when today starts to get lost in tomorrow’s plans, it takes a little bit of the magic with it.
Seeing this allowed me to fully experience what this summer had to offer: new friends, new experiences, some great rounds of Trivial Pursuit, and—of course—some fishing.
And though I head back to the city with excitement and anticipation of again gleefully being awoken by sirens, I will miss it here. Despite my best efforts, I will miss it.
I will miss being able to sit by the water and have lunch at La Place Rendez-Vous with my colleagues—complete with the great service from Jean-Marc. I will miss the excitement that infused the entire community in the days and weeks leading up to the much-anticipated FFCBC.
I will dearly miss living with Sue—waking up to her coffee every morning and the way she always made me feel at home. I will miss watching “Sex and the City” with Mel, eating monstrous sundaes, and talking politics and feminism.
I will miss the long production nights each Tuesday with the editorial staff (okay, I won’t miss them, but it had to be said).
I will miss the morning smiles at Pharmasave when I rushed in to get my film developed. I will miss Jen and Allan on B93 FM’s morning show.
I will miss Bill and Nellie Godin’s delightful hospitality—bar none. And I will miss the view as I drove over the Causeway for a weekend at a cabin.
To be frank, though, I will not miss the smell of the mill, despite the claims of many-a-local that it is the “smell of prosperity.” Nope, still won’t miss it.
Most of all, I will miss the staff at the Fort Frances Times, who were unconditionally kind, who nursed me through a bout or two of homesickness, and who never once complained about my messy desk.
As is turned out, there was a richness of experience to be had all around me—even without a Starbucks on hand. And there was no need to race to the finish line, for the time—as it has a tendency to do—quickly passed.
And so I leave, with a mixture of excitement for the comfort of a familiar home and fondness for a town that so readily welcomed me into its fold.
So long, Fort Frances—and thanks for all the fish.

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