I’ve never lived in a place before where I have some view of the mountains any time I leave the house. The Saguenay region of Northern Quebec sits in a basin surrounded by the Laurentian mountain range, so heading in just about any direction grants a view of the mountains. They’re not super-impressive, by mountain standards (they’re no Rockies or Himilayas), but coming from a place where the slightest incline was a hill, and a hill with rocks was a mountain, they’re quite impressive enough for me. There are streets downtown that freak me out a little bit in an automatic, and on which I would never be comfortable driving the husband’s sports car with its manual transmission.
I’ve learned the mountains have many moods. I drive the same stretch of highway just about every day, on my way to and from the gym on base. I see the same view of the mountains day after day. Yet, I’m not sure if they’ve ever looked exactly the same on any two days. Some days, the air seems like fine crystal, and the mountains seem closer than usual. The green of the trees that cover them seems more vibrant, their texture more tangible and varied, and the shadows cast by the clouds above seem sharper. Some days, the air has a murky volume, and the mountains seem more two-dimensional, losing their texture and sharp outlines, their greens graying and their grays greening. One memorable morning, there was a solid white cloud bank below the mountains’ peaks, perhaps hanging above the river? It seemed too solid to be made of mere water vapor, making you almost believe it would support your weight if you found a way to step out onto it. At times, the low peaks manage to bury themselves in the clouds, obscuring the line where the mountains rise to create the horizon. At other times, rain obscures the mountains completely, making the world smaller under it’s heavy gray weight. Today, as I drove toward downtown Chicoutimi to pick up my ball gown, the mountains were crowned with a double rainbow. As I neared my destination, I saw both rainbows’ ends, as they plunged into the Saguenay river in front of the mountains.
I, like the Laurentians, have many moods. It seems perhaps I have more, and they’re more changeable, since I left everything I know in Oklahoma and followed my husband to the great white north. He and I joke that “Quebec broke my emotions.” I’ve cried a good bit since the move, and I’m not usually “THAT” girl. In the first several weeks here, they were almost exclusively sad tears. I cried about it being more difficult to shop for groceries, since I don’t speak the language. I cried about not feeling like I fit in, not just because I’m an Anglophone in a Francophone land, but because I’m not the typical military wife in a typical military family. I cried because my husband had to leave three weeks after we arrived to spend four months living away from me in Ontario. I cried because I was scared of going it alone in Quebec for those four months. I cried because I missed my nephew (he sucks at skyping and talking on the phone), and the many people I love back in Oklahoma. I cried because I’m utterly dependent on my husband and don’t always feel like I’m a real, adult human anymore. I cried because I felt invisible to the people of this land, and because I didn’t know how to make them see me. I cried because I cried too much (SERIOUSLY! that was a thing!) and I didn’t know how my husband could go on loving me when I was such an unlovable basket case. I cried when my husband drove away, and the silence in our new home loomed large.
But as the days have crept by and become weeks, and as the weeks stretched into a month and beyond it, I notice changes. I still cry far more easily than I once did. I’ve found that my emotions are more broken than I suspected. I now cry HAPPY tears far more often. I cried when a new and cherished friend got a job. I cried over sappy scenes in a episode of my favourite tv show (which I’d already watched previously). I cried when I reflected upon how fortunate I really am, with incredibly supportive people in my life. I cried while talking to my husband about how good things are between us. I cried talking to a friend about how much I love my husband. (If you’re reading this, babe, sorry! I know how you hate this sappy shit!) Hell, the friendly guy at the SAQ (the liquor store) is lucky I didn’t cry when he spoke English to us the day I shopped there with a friend! (I’m not tearing up typing this, I swear. But I admit I’m kind of surprised that I’m not.)
I’m not used to having my emotions so close to the surface, but as the days go by, I grow more used to that and the rest of this strange new life. Despite the odd new tendency to leak from the face over happy things, these past few weeks I’ve been far more stable and grounded than I thought I would be in this situation. It used to be that when I looked forward to something quite a bit, and those plans crashed and burned, my mood dropped sharply. Now…well, sometimes I don’t even get truly disappointed when things go wrong. I’m not immune to disappointment by any means! My emotions aren’t dead; they’ve just gone on the fritz. I seem to be adjusting far better and more rapidly than I dared hope I could to this strange state of being a military wife. ANYTHING can change, right up to the last minute. And I’m finding myself, my formerly rigid, over-planning, over-scheduling self, to be getting very good at flowing with those changes all of a sudden. I like the change!
I don’t love the idea of facing my first Canadian winter without my husband’s help until almost Christmas time. I don’t love that returning recyclable bottles for the deposit proved beyond my abilities today, and that there are dozens (if not more!) of little day-to-day things that are sometimes beyond my abilities and always a challenge. I don’t love being so far away from so many of the people who used to fill my life with noise and laughter. But…surprisingly, I don’t loathe these things, either. I’ve hit some sort of strange state of stability for the moment (I’m an extremes sort of girl, usually only finding balance by going alternately to opposite ends of the spectrum; balance isn’t my thing). I don’t know if it’s a state that will endure for me. But I appreciate and enjoy it while it is here, cushioning the blows. I enjoy watching the mountains’ changing moods with a soft smile in my heart.