My mother loves the word “Ennui”. She has the word on a piece of paper on her fridge with the proper way to pronounce it written underneath – ahn wee. It’s a word for rainy, foggy days, and it perfectly describes the state that I find myself in every time I’m in Halifax.
I was born in this city, but moved to Ontario shortly after, spending summer vacations here and a few months here and there in my 20s when I was broke and my parents were once again back where they belonged. And it’s a city I desperately want to love. There’s so much to love about it. And yet…
I find myself in a state of ennui whenever I wander her streets. Something pushes down on my heart and the thrill I should be getting from the vibrant waterfront with its delightful lobster shacks, market, museums and ebullient self-awareness that this is a tourist destination, is instead replaced with an amorphous dread. I’ve wrestled with this and have come no closer to understanding this feeling.
I’m here for my second and last residency for my MFA, trying to will time to move more slowly with sheer willpower so that it won’t be over. And so I’ve decided that this time I will quash the negative feelings, seek out the pleasures of this pretty town, and listen for the rhythm that matches my heart beat and that I believe should be my birthright.
Last night a friend from the program and I wandered down through Holy Cross Catholic graveyard – very cool – and down to the waterfront to Dave’s Lobster where we got a lobster roll (on gluten-free bread!) to share. Wending our way back to King’s College, we sought shady side streets and found ourselves on one such adorable street painted with an argyle pattern. It was Argyle Street. Cuter than a bug’s ear, as my Aunt Jane would say.
This morning, I was up at dawn and opened my dorm windows a little wider, taking in a deep breath of salty air. A tingling of affection fluttered somewhere in my cold heart. I have just over a week left here. Perhaps by the end that tingle will turn into love, and, after half a century, I can finally feel like I’ve come home.