I love this town - I love my job. I love that every evening I get to see an incredible sunset, or I can go for a bike ride through a well-protected and advancing National Park. I can go for a hike through the park and discover new wildflowers, new terrain, and new wildlife. When you work for a park with over 15 endangered animal species and another 30 endangered plants, you always, always get the sense that you may just find something that has been seen for a very long time.
I've found cairns, arrowheads, dinosaur bones - things that have not been known of for many thousands or millions of years. This is just part of my job. A fantastical day at the office.
I've not been able to sleep for the past couple of nights though. And there is no good reason to be offered except for an intense fear that has been a whispering memory for the past year but that choked the vitality out of my life in the twenty odd years that existed before that.
I am afraid of being myself in Val Marie. This stairway to heaven is creaking a bit too much - I'm uneasy here. I'm hiding in masks that I didn't know I had anymore.
The casual bigotry, homophobia, hatred that suffocates me is expressed in that most-vile of all weapons - humour. I am not the only victim; I should be thankful that I am not Metis or Indian. But it is very casual - just as I remember it being in high school.
As though nothing else has ever existed, and nothing else has any reason to exist.
The place in which I find myself is a prison of open prairie. Its as though I was released from my fear, my hatred of the world, my refusal to be myself for a short period and then reminded of the reality of my environment. I've pushed myself back into my cell. Closed the door. Locked it - hidden the key in Regina.
I knew this was going to happen. I just had no idea it was going to hurt this much. I don't even remember what its like to talk about men. The vocabulary is lost.
Last night I texted a friend of mine in Halifax, asking her to remind me that it was ok to be gay. It surprised me that I was silently crying in my bed - courteous and selfish enough to not want to wake my ever-present roommates.
I am so alone.