Sunday, 19 January 2014

Solitude in January

Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver...
- Gilles Vigneault

January has just never been an enjoyable month for me. In the past, the bad weather and most likely having a nasty cold have got me down, as well as the prospect of handing in essays. Despite being shorter, February has always seemed somehow even worse, so there's always the dreaded advent of that month during January, too. This time - the first January in basically my whole life where I don't have any academic responsibilities - there have been some solid reasons for my slump, which aren't really worth going into on here.

The weather lately has actually been pretty mild; similar to what should be expected in March, I'm told. The temperature has been hovering around -10 and occasionally taking baby steps over 0, so you don't really need to wrap up that much. We had a whole week of ice and nothing else, which means a whole week of just trying to get around without falling over. This is why snow can actually be a welcome relief; it's easier to walk on, and it also means you can do winter activities.

But truth be told, since I got back from winter break I haven't really wanted to do anything except stay indoors and watch stuff on Netflix, read, and write. These things make me feel perfectly content and fulfilled. Maybe some people would be critical - judgemental, even - and say that this is all stuff I could be doing in England, that I need to "get out there". I contest that; nobody can say for sure that I could be doing that in England, as I have several friends in England with full-time jobs who barely get free time nowadays (also, Netflix Canada may not be the greatest, but it totally has stuff that you don't get on the UK/Ireland one...).

I may be in a different country, but my interests remain the same. I'm up for doing new winter activities, just not all the time. To me, winter is not just about embracing the cold and the snow itself, but embracing the excuse to stay in the warm and get a period for self-reflection that you wouldn't normally have. And my apartment is fabulous so you better believe I'm going to make the most of it!

On the other hand, I am craving city life, hard. I miss being able to do whatever I want on a Sunday afternoon: walk into the city and go shopping, see a film or play, eat cuisine from anywhere around the world. And being so far from anywhere that bands I like come to play, I've had to basically forget going to shows, which is usually such a big part of my life. Don't get me wrong, Rimouski is a lovely place, plus it's one of the largest destinations on the programme and I feel very fortunate to be placed here. But lately I keep daydreaming about living somewhere else, which I feel terribly guilty about. It's the first time I have felt like that since being here. Maybe it's because I've been in quite a few huge, diverse cities over the past month (and a huge, diverse city is where I want to be living on a long-term basis).
Yesterday I was talking to a friend back home about my plans after my job here is over, and the more we speculated about it, the more restless I felt. Here I am living a transient life that is entirely separate to the one I've been counting on for a long time. I didn't come here thinking otherwise, it's just that lately I am feeling particularly sad because of it. So my challenge for - well, for however long this feeling lasts - is to strike a balance between making serious plans for what's next and savouring everything that rural Quebec has to offer.

At any rate, I already love my new school. Primary seems to be much more fun, though I'm sure it will present its own challenges with the fullness of time. I have found that the fact I can get there by foot in 15 minutes to change everything; it's unbelievable what fresh air and exercise in the morning can do for your circulation and therefore your general mood (I'm not going to start going on 6am jogs, though). It also means that I can go home for lunch, which is perfect and just makes life so much easier. Again, I want to make the most of that because in my next job I may well have to commute and bring lunch. It's nice to have something so positive to hold onto when a lot of things are just unstable or plain hard at the moment.