Wednesday, March 25, 2009

traveling through Mordor

Today, I journeyed east of Edmonton, past the land of Mordor, to the the hamlet of suburbia that is Sherwood Park. The object of my quest was a baritone ukulele I had found online. Little did I realize that obtaining the music maker would entail such adventure.

Edmonton is an oil town. To the east are the refineries. From our 19th-floor apartment, with it's east facing windows, we can see the flames of the refineries burning through the night. Craig was the one who first suggested that the land to our east was Mordor; for me, it just looked like home, having grown up as close to the petroleum refineries in Texas City as I now live to the ones here in Edmonton. We look out over Mordor at night, and occasionally, we created fantasies about our adventures to/through Mordor (yeah, we are total geeks). But today, I actually went out there...

I had not been east of town since we drove in on the Yellowhead Highway back in July, when we first moved to Edmonton. I had heard of this mythical land, Sherwood Park, from colleagues and patients alike, but never was this locale a destination of mine. But I aspired to own the uke, so I braved the rush-hour traffic, and headed east, right through the heart or Mordor.

And actually, Mordor felt quite familiar. In addition to bringing to mind the childhood trips past the refineries in Texas City when Hilary and I used to hold our breath so not to inhale the sulfuric fumes (of death!), the bleak, industrial landscape also made me think of my many drives through Gary, Indiana as I made my way to and from my Chicago. Mordor stirs nostalgia within me. Hmmm...

The real adventure came in getting lost in suburbia, between the universal Home Depots, Michaels, and McDonalds and their Canadian counterparts, Canadian Tire, HomeSense, and Tim Hortons. These landmarks are so ubiquitous throughout North America, they are hardly signposts to point one in the right direction any longer. "Turn right at the Wendy's," I was told. Which Wendy's???

It was the towers of Mordor which brought me out of Sherwood Park. I could see the flames burning into the setting sun. I knew that if the towers were once again to my east, I would be nearing my home. So I headed back through Mordor. This time with a stringless uke in my possession. And I made it home safe and sound.

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