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Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

Getting closer to normal

BY Sonny Orr Apr 25, 2022

After taking numerous tests that all came out negative, I was allowed to leave town. Now that I’ve left, it’s just a matter of figuring out what to do with my spare time. Turns out I don’t have spare time because there’s nothing to do. No direct contact with anything other than your own belongings and your closest family. Since I don’t have too many things that I’m attached to, that only leaves close family members to cling onto. 

They seem happy that the grumpy old guy is gone for a few days. At least I still have my smart phone to keep me from losing my sanity… which is slowly ebbing away into a semblance of life without parole. It’s time to break away from this constraint of isolation and antisocial behaviour.   

I venture out on the lonely streets of your average small town. Only to discover other lonely out-of-towners as locals are stay put in their cozy homes. I brave the fury of the final days of winter and wander around wishing I had my car so I could do doughnuts in an empty parking lot. It’s the middle of the month which means nothing is going on or so it seems. 

So, what to do in a boring town that used to be dubbed Sin City? Do I raise a little hell like back in the day? Should I just sit back with aging wisdom and remind others that this was once a bustling town? 

And yet, with gold soaring to record highs and lithium becoming more attractive, Sin CIty should be that much more dangerous. Petroleum seems to have lost favour with vehicle owners who don’t possess a gas station. Prices have gone so high that for the first time in history the rate is lower in the Great Whale River. 

Looking back, 2021 was a rollercoaster year, but 2022 is turning into a year of erupting volcanoes and bottomless sinkholes. This pandemic mixed with a war no is affecting everything. I try to deal with it in my usual cheery approach. Cracking jokes and offering helping hands is about all that’s left to give as the clock ticks towards that eventuality when there will be nothing left to give. As I stroll through the stores still open but discovering only empty shelves, I wonder if the right time to stock up on essentials is now.

As families must keep apart for days on end and schools and daycares have iffy schedules, the pressure is growing to open up. But we shouldn’t until everyone is on the same page. The need to get together is no longer as strong, but for many people these days it’s the call from the health authorities telling us that we are free again that makes our lives happier. 

No one thought that the absence of family and friends would be so heartbreaking. Coming from my grandchildren’s perspective, love and hugs are missing “big time” and they can’t wait for things to get back to normal. I keep my voice cheery as my hugs become longer and my squeezes tighter. They need it much more than the adults do, but for grandparents it’s better than gold. I guess the human touch may one day be the most valuable commodity on the market or the most treasured. Did you get your hug today?

As I leave my family and cozy home for a few days, I hope that the coming weeks and months will get closer to normal. Then we can all go on a family trip, where the mask is no longer necessary, and the virus is just a lesson for humanity. 

Stay healthy and avoid confusion. Signing off from lonely town…

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Sonny Orr is Cree from Chisasibi, and has been a columnist for the Nation for over 20 years. He regularly pens Rez Notes from the cozy social club in Whapmagoostui where he resides.