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Please allow me to introduce myself

Thom Barker
Thom Barker - Submitted

It took me 28 years, but I’m back.

In the summer of 1989, I was a geology student working for the Geological Survey of Canada in northern Labrador. It was a transformational experience. The beauty of this big land, its stark vastness, its pristine naturalness, its rugged intimacy imprinted on my psyche never to be dislodged by the circuitous path that would eventually bring me back.

When I graduated in 1994, it was a bad time for geology jobs, but the shift to an economy based on computerization was full on and anybody with a pulse was in high demand by the high tech industry. My science degree and some native writing ability served me well and got my toe in the door as a technical writer for Nortel.  

I rapidly progressed in the industry eventually landing in Austin, Texas. By the dawn of the new millennium, I almost had it all, the six-figure job, my own house, a hot car, an even hotter young girlfriend. What was missing was a sense of satisfaction in what I was doing with my life.

I had always wanted to be a writer. I moved back to Ottawa in 2002 and got to work building a freelance business. The pay sucked, I had to live with other people and I had nothing, but I was much happier. Eventually, I managed to cobble together enough bylines to catch the attention of a newspaper editor in northern British Columbia and got my first reporter job.

I also met and fell in love with my wonderful wife Lorraine. Her career trajectory would carry us east, first to my home province of Saskatchewan where we spent nearly a decade. We almost sank some roots in Yorkton, a small city on the far eastern edge of the province. We bought a house, got ourselves a Newfoundland dog and lived there five years, about as long as either one of us had ever stayed anywhere. The pull of Lorraine’s home province was too powerful, however, and when she was presented the opportunity to be the nurse practitioner for Postville, the move was on again.

The move for me was not without its complications. After driving 5,500 kilometres across the country, I was stuck in North West River for four months because our house in Postville was not ready. Don’t get me wrong, North West River is a great place to be stuck, but when you are anxiously awaiting reunion with your spouse, it is kind of unsettling.

I got to make a fair bit of art, however, including a painting of the Northern Ranger, the ship I would finally board on October 30. It was challenging with a 130-pound dog and three cats, but we made it to Postville on Halloween. It wasn’t quite over, though. High winds prevented us from docking in Postville for almost 24 hours. I spent that night looking at our house on the shore from the Ranger’s deck. So close, yet still not home.

I’ve been here almost a week and I can really feel myself decompressing. The north coast is everything I remember it being. I almost cannot believe my luck to find myself here again, this time to stay.

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