“Never heard of it!” That was my first thought when my aunt said Yukon Territory. Other than
knowing it was part of Canada and that I had family there, I was clueless about my possible new address.
So I did my homework; I Googled.
Since then, “more or less two hours away from Alaska” has become my standard answer to anyone who has also never heard of the Yukon.
And for those who were genuinely worried about me going so far away, I assuaged their apprehensions (and mine) by romanticizing the idea – I would be closer to the North Pole.
The Philippines is dubbed as the Perlas ng Silangan, which translates to Pearl of the Orient or Pearl of the East.
This is why I found it a bit amusing that at 6:00 o’clock on a June morning in 2014, I would leave my homeland in darkness and, 16 hours and 10,000 kilometres later, would arrive to a bright and sunny late evening in Whitehorse.
I may have come from the East, but the North, at that time of summer, surely felt like the perpetual East – a land where the sun seemingly NEVER sets.
As someone from the tropics, I was comforted by the warmth of the midnight sun on my skin. At the same time, I was a bit unnerved. “What if it’s giving its all now coz it will be gone for a while?” my right-side brain asked.
True enough, the days got shorter and as the first snow of winter fell and iced the roads, I had one goal in mind: NEVER slip.
I took this so much to heart that I had my mother send me undergarments with posterior paddings. The intention of getting them was so that in the event that I did slip, they would cushion my landing and not make the experience a total bummer (pun intended).
Thankfully, I did not have to use that precautionary measure, as my first winter was surprisingly OK – perhaps because it was relatively kinder than previous ones, as true Yukoners concluded.
Clear sky during the night also made the cold bearable, as the probability of a display of the Northern Lights was enough invigoration for me to NEVER sleep earlier than the first hint of the dancing hues.
I had known of the aurora borealis long before I had heard of the Yukon. After all, it is the setting for my longest-running fantasy, which involves George Clooney and Tiffany & Company.
Back in the real world, however, the cold and the darkness still got to me. It was hard to look at the glass as half full when the ambient temperature alone was enough to convert liquid water to solid ice.
Then I went on a holiday somewhere south and found myself constantly comparing the place to the Yukon. With every “this place is nothing like the Yukon” thought I had on that trip, I knew the territory had finally gotten to me.
All those moments when I weirded myself out with mental justifications of why I should NEVER leave, finally made sense.
Mine has become a familiar story: a newcomer seeking the proverbial greener pasture, ending up spell-bound by the rugged beauty of the literal one.