After a long time away from living on a small island I have found myself back and it feels strange. It is strange to recognize so many familiar faces everywhere I turn. I feel like I am in Brigadoon, this little town has stayed the same—stopped in time, if you will. On the ferry, there is the same man who steals your newspaper right out of your hands, the same man delivering a truck of water in the dry season, the same person selling you meat from the deli. And I swear there is that same spider hanging out in the same corner of the ceiling.
The ferry line up is long and the tourists are fun to watch and listen to on the long waits. They are easy to spot, expensive sunglasses and fancy sandals, standing in the front of the ferry, faces in the wind looking expectantly to the island, anticipation of a holiday in their eyes. They take shamelessly happy looking selfies with the mountains and the sea in the background and I think, yes come and enjoy the island, where nothing ever changes. And while it is comforting to know everyone’s name, I still enjoy the animosity of a new car ( new to people here anyways), where I can drive down the winding tree lined roads without anyone recognizing me at least for a brief time— I don’t have to wave at anyone.
Although it feels that time has stopped, it really hasn’t. Some people look a lot older, classic older men with long white beards Rip Van Winkle-esk… walking in their faded tie dye. Some have packed up and moved away- as we did, to try and find better jobs in the city.
Some have died.
Time has a different meaning on this small island. I have to shake off my impatience as people stop in the middle of the narrow two lane road that winds around the island, to stop and chat —-holding up the people behind them. I have to learn that long waits are the norm, at the ferry. You learn to make your own ice cream, your own pot stickers. Now I have to learn to make Pho and give up going to the movies… just to not have to take the dreaded ferry. It is fun to get people riled up here, all you have to do is say BC Ferries! and you can get a reaction. They have been overloaded all month! 45 minutes late each time! Is the lament that I keep hearing.
But I think an island like this should be kept the same- it is beneficial to keep the outside world from transforming us too much—we have to realize, it really is that dreaded ferry that is keeping this little island at bay from too much rapid change. Like that spell on Brigadoon.
And like Gene Kelly who returns to New York after leaving, he just can’t get Brigadoon out of his mind. Gabriola too will keep you under its spell, and if you leave, you may have to return. Even if Cyd Charisse isn’t here dancing around Drumbeg Park with her long legs and her Scottish accent.
Note from the author: I am taking great liberties with my memory of this old movie…. it has been awhile since I have watched this film and I am filling in the holes with my imagination.