The pale yellow walls of my home-away-from-home glowed gently last night as I sat at my desk. Piece by piece, I made my way through the last pre-residency reading assignments while I bounced along to a few universally uplifting Matisyahu tunes pumping through my headphones.
Finished, I took pen in hand and sketched a visual representation of my book's structure for tomorrow's mentor group session. There have been several comments that referring to these daily workshops as "group," as in, "We have group tomorrow morning," sounds a lot like therapy. Which, in a way, they are. After spending the last six months or so working away on our projects in our various corners of the continent, it's cathartic to come back together with friends.
It just so happens that one of those friends is a city. Halifax, I have decided, is a little bit like Maritime Disneyland, and reminiscent of Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens. This charming metropolis is centered on a peninsula that takes about an hour to cross. On foot. From our small, stone university campus, a meander across town skirts the public gardens with their artful flowerbeds and dappled shade, or the fortress-capped rise of the Citadel. A small misstep while gazing out at the museum ships, pilot boats and cruise vessels in the harbor could launch a body down the hill past the green-, blue-, and white-painted blacktop of Argyle Street (pronounced the olde way, with the accent on the second syllAHble, as it should be).
All of us seem to have our senses overwhelmed when we hit the waterfront. The scent of salt water hits us at the same time the pouring sun reflects off the lapping waves into our eyes and a breeze washes the day's heat away. And just as I grew to expect sugar wafers and sherbet on visits to my great-aunt and great-uncle's home, I've quickly come to expect that lobster rolls, Cow's ice cream (Fluff 'n' Udder, anyone?), and Propeller ginger beer will be on offer upon arrival at my friend Halifax's place.
Sound, though? It could be the buskers, or something much simpler. In fact, as I walked across the quad Sunday on the way to my room, one of the mentors in the MFA program who lives nearby came striding across the grass from the dorm. He's part of the opposite mentor cohort from the team that works with my class, so our interaction last year was limited and most often in more social environs. Still, when he saw me this weekend, his face lit up with a grin of recognition and his voice carried across the lawn. "Welcome home!"
I heard that greeting about three times more before the day was out. After all, a city is nothing without its people.