• Aug

    Arrival in Calgary


    It was a strange thing, to go back to Calgary after so long. It had been 16 years. The last time I’d been in Calgary was for my father’s unveiling.

    If you’re not from the Jewish tradition, you probably don’t know what that is. In Judaism, when someone dies, the headstone isn’t erected right away. The grave is marked with a stick and the ground is allowed to settle, which can take the better part of a year. Only then is the gravestone erected. This reduces the possibility of the gravestone toppling or sinking into the gravesite.

    When the grave is finished, the unveiling takes place and this was the reason for my visit in 1997.

    Going back to Calgary was surreal. I had done my best to avoid the place and since leaving in 1983, I’d only been back five times, mostly for funerals.

    I had avoided the place due to a lot of mental baggage which had built up over the years, a lot of negative crap which I carried like a sack on my back.

    Just recently, though, I couldn’t avoid going back any longer. My favourite uncle was getting older, was having some health challenges and I realized that if I didn’t go back, I might not see him again. This was something I couldn’t bear to let happen and it almost felt like I was pulled to return to Calgary.

    I had to see him again and on this trip, I took a side journey to Calgary.



    A familiar landmark.

    Arriving at the city limits, I was shocked by how much the city had grown. In fact, I didn’t recognize the place at all. It felt like a generic city, which could have been anywhere. Everything was different and outside of a vague idea of where to go, I didn’t know where I was.

    My main task was to get to my uncle’s office. I’d agreed to meet him at 2:00pm. Going into town seemed easy enough. I found Sarcee trail and drove up it, intending to turn left at 17th Ave and drive downtown. unfortunately, somebody moved the road. The old turnoff I wanted to use was no longer there.

    I missed it completely because the road had been changed to an off ramp which then took a bridge over the highway. Lost, I turned off at Spyglass (I think) hill and found myself in a new area which reminded me of an American city. Turning left, I went over the highway and found myself at 51st Ave and 51st Street, way too far away. I managed to get back on the highway, head north and (finallly) turn off at 17th Avenue.

    I made my way to 14th Street, turned left and headed down to my uncle’s office. That’s when I ran into another adventure. I couldn’t turn left to his office because the road was blocked off. I had to drive to North Calgary, turn around and drive back. After that, I made to my uncle’s office and called him.

    He came right down, a man I hadn’t seen in 16 years. When I saw him, we embraced and that began a short and lovely reunion. It only lasted two days and I had a fabulous time.

    © Nathan Segal. 2014

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