In the morning, I go to the library while Gerry stays home and spreads out photography papers on the dining table as a precursor to organizing them in binders he picked up the day prior. I spend time orienting myself in the library, looking for spaces I might return to write one day and locating my favourite non-fiction sections where I browse the shelves and choose a couple of books.
I can’t resist a short walk in Crescent Park, where the library is situated, afterward. It’s a beautiful sunny Saskatchewan day, but I didn’t bring ear warmers or wear my heaviest coat so it’s a short wander—just enough for a taste and a promise to return before long.
In the afternoon, we run errands and stop at a place we intended to visit last week before life took us in a different direction,
What was once the Eaton’s department store on Main Street, is now the Timothy Eaton’s Centre, home to the Moose Jaw and District Senior Citizen’s Association. Gerry wants to check out the Pickleball and we’re interested in what else they offer. A friendly woman at the reception desk greets us and offers to take us on a tour. She guides us to the Pickleball court, past the cafe, through a handful of men playing billiards, a card room, lounge, and craft room. People are friendly, greeting us newcomers at every turn (Moose Jaw is known as The Friendly City, after all). Our guide leads us downstairs to where there’s a walking track and people playing some kind of curling-like game on lanes that look like shuffleboards, to a workout area with treadmills and exercise equipment and, finally, to a stocked woodworking room where a woman is refinishing a piece of furniture.
I vaguely remember the Eaton’s department store from childhood. I know there was a lunch counter downstairs in the same area where people are now playing the shuffleboard-like game. I can’t orient myself to where anything was a half-century ago though. But it’s when we’re climbing the stairs back to the main floor that it hits me—a memory I can’t put form to but that is just as real to my senses. I’ve been here before. I remember these stairs.
Memories wait around every corner and on every street in this small city I call home again. Sometimes they’re shadows, other times they’re as clear as if they happened yesterday, but there’s something much deeper about the subconscious memory that surfaced in the stairway of Eaton’s.
Gerry spends time orienting himself in a small city with no mountains to serve as landmarks. “Look for the Robin Hood,” I remind him, pointing to what was once the Robin Hood Flour Mill with a giant image of Robin painted on tower. The image is long gone, but it remains in my memory and now, the memory of it serves as a landmark for my husband as he sorts out north hill from south hill and which streets run east to west.
Home. It’s a sweet, sweet, sensual thing.