The North West Territories

I suppose another reason for writing this blog is to put pieces of my life together in a somewhat chronological order. Having suffered from alcoholism for so many years most of my memory is blocked-out, faded, or fuzzy at best. The person i describe as me says i drank because i found life, in general, boring. but the greater me states that I was hiding, trying to feel good BEFORE i stepped out into the world to show my face. but that can never happen because the more we drink, the more we regress as alcoholism is a prison of helplessness – futility.

I’m not sure if alcoholism is hereditary. My father was alcoholic, and his father was as well. My mother’s mother (my grandmother) was alcoholic and my mother drank occasionally (seeing alcohol as an expensive luxury – go figure). At any rate, I drank considerable amounts when i did drink. I suppose the only thing that saved me was that I exercised more than i drank in general but whatever, alcohol was a big part of my life. I don’t drink anymore.

so I quit school and went to the territories to live with a friend and her boyfriend in that cold, frosty world. I forged my drivers licence to say that I was 19 so i could work in a bar. the place was frightful. Every day was the same. it was full of Eskimos who received checks from the government. we serve them alcohol until their government check runs out and then they are cut off. those incoherent were at the end of the night were dragged out into the cold and left lying on the icy road ways. They would get chill-banes on their face which, when healed, appeared as knife cuts on their face. I could never pull these poor, lost souls out into the cold. Life was so desolate, isolated and harsh for them. I had so idea how to save them. I felt so lost myself.

I voiced my opinion to the bartender who was also the manager. he seemed to be nice and respectful to the Eskimos. He would keep an eye on some, and try to put money aside for their cab ride out of the check amount. he was not racial, or opinionated but rather caring. he agreed with my view but at the same time told me it was their choice because every day they were back again. Also, he told me that they were difficult to deal with, quite mean, and would lie about how many drinks they had. I knew they suffered from a lack of love, a lack of softness and forgiveness. How could their inner being be reached? how could their world be fixed? certainly not by any ‘white man’. it had to come from within their own tribe, their own kind.

These natives in the bar, of course, are not the norm. In general Eskimos are a beautiful, happy and quite creative group of people living in the beautiful north who do not abuse substance. Their incredible art work and divine myths define their beautiful inward nature. I marveled at their creative expression when relaying stories or diligently working at their art.

In Inuit mythology, Nuliajuk is the goddess of the sea and marine animals such as seals. A creation myth, the story of Nuliajuk shows how she came to rule over Adlivun, the Inuit underworld. Nuliajuk is kidnapped by a bird creature. Her father then leaves in his kayak to rescue her from the floating ice-island where she is imprisoned while the bird creature is away. The bird creature, enraged by her disappearance, calls to a spirit of the sea to help him. The Sea Spirit locates the Kayak with the two humans aboard and creates huge waves to kill them. Her father throws Nuliajuk overboard in the hope that this will appease the angry sea god. Nuliajuk clings to the kayak but her father grabs a little axe and chops three of her fingers off before striking her on the head. The three fingers each become a different species of seal. The stroke to her head sends Nuliajuk to the ocean floor where she resides, commanding the animals of the sea.

The territories were raw fun, meaning there was nothing exciting to do so we had to make our own fun. So, late at night (it was always bright) we would take the old pick-up onto the ‘ice roads’. The ice roads were exactly that – roads of ice – out in the back ‘woods’ of our small town, which stretched out for miles. We would drive down these slippery pathways swaying left and right driving very fast and then put on the brakes on and slide. In this town i had found a boyfriend, Ned and on one occasion he opened the truck door to stand on the sideboard. in that moment he was horizontal holding onto the top of the door as the wind picked him up. Then he was a dot in the rear view mirror. horrified, we drove back to get him. hitting ice is like hitting cement but he seemed ok and we put him back in the truck.

Somehow we were indestructible back then, most likely because we believed ourselves to be.

I welcome all your comments so please post your words, feeling, or views that you would like to share in the reply box below!

kels xo

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