Today I will leave this room where I rehearsed the play we are now performing twice a day, and I will run.
I will run out of town, past the remnants of the Island Mountain Mine, which I have climbed up to and explored, photographing twisted rails and tailings and spooky, boarded-up entrances. Cariboo Gold Quartz Mine is on my left. I have climbed those tailings piles too, every year. Once, as I sat and looked out over the lake, a young fox joined me for a while, curling up just feet from where I was sitting. It felt like a gift, and I was awed and grateful. I have explored overgrown roads and cement ruins up here. My brother and sister-in-law came with me once, and we shouted "NO BEARS!" every few feet to discourage unwelcome encounters of the furry kind. We found core samples, an old pop bottle, a leaning metal building housing an elevator shaft. We walked up to an old mine shaft and felt its icy breath as we moved closer.
Past the old mines, with Jack o'Clubs Lake to my left. Three years ago I canoed its circumference with my friend Venessa. Two years ago, once here due date had come and gone, we took icy dips in it to encourage her baby to be born, although I joked that once he'd felt how cold the lake was, he'd never want to come out! Last year we jogged where I am jogging now, with baby Alexander in a stroller bouncing along in front of us. This year she and her RCMP husband have moved, and my run is quicker, but lonelier without her.
I keep a sharp eye out for bears. It's Spring, and the mother black bears are feeding, often with roly-poly cubs in tow. My muscles are slowly warming up, my legs aching. Past the Information Centre and the taco stand. Two summers ago, feeling equal parts lonely and liberated after a breakup, I would bike to the taco stand once a week to talk to Mark. Although he must have wondered why I appeared so regularly and stayed so late, he never made me feel unwelcome. These days we see each other on the street in the town where we both work and smile, although we don't talk as much.
I reach my third kilometre, near the far end of the lake and stop briefly before turning around, heading back towards home.Seven kilometres past the town where I live is the town where I work. The theatre where I have known fatigue and frustration, but also so much love and laughter and applause. I have taken countless bows here, sometimes in front of two people, sometimes two hundred. I cried two years ago when I had to leave suddenly, and while I was away they had a fundraiser for me here and raised hundreds of dollars to help me with expenses. When I came back and took my bow on the night of our opening gala they cheered and I blew the audience kisses because without even knowing when or why, I had started to feel as if I belonged here.
I look up at the mountain peaks that surround me as I run: Cow Mountain, Mount Murray, Island Mountain, Slide Mountain. I am still learning to match the right name to the right mountain but I am slowly catching on. Last summer I climbed to the top of Mount Agnes with a friend, glowing with pride that I'd made it to the top of a mountain. Even knowing only a fraction of this area's history, my friend and I could appreciate that we were retracing the footsteps of settlers and gold-diggers a century and a half ago.
These towns are my second home, and the places where I test and find myself every year.
These summers I spend up here are summers of hard work and joy, of new friends and mad crushes and falling in love; crying myself to sleep and waking up with a smile on my face. Of backyard bonfires and 'family dinners' and music festivals and rehearsals and shows, endless amounts of shows. Of wearing old-fashioned dresses and fake curls and real corsets and speaking with Irish and English accents. Of clowning and singing and playing and sleeping and biking and running, always running.