To Henry Georgeson (first letter)

Dear Scotty,
There was a unique moment in my life (a strange instance of great feeling and intensity) that probably happened within steps of the cabin you built back in 1858. I wasn’t going to be interviewed for the job I’d been pursuing for years and left the city in a huff, hoping to collect my thoughts and breathe a bit.   There I was, on Galiano Island, somewhat despondent (and perhaps half-crazed), looking out across Georgeson Bay at dozens of seals and sea lions.  Their numbers kept increasing as the last traces of sunlight dissipated.  A fragile, shifting network of living bridges formed across Active Pass.
They kept staring at me (right into my eyes, unblinking) and I stared back.  This went on for a few minutes or several hours.  I became acutely aware of the silence between us — an incommunicability that would’ve been terrifying if I hadn’t been so transfixed…   These spectral creatures still haunt my thoughts (I often wonder if we partially exchanged realms that night).  It struck me that I was never supposed to be here, that  perhaps I was an aberration or trick, a random mistake within some other, far more ancient and inherently alien form of consciousness.
How could you feel by the edge of that same shoreline, all those years before me, listening to the tide coming in and air pushing through cedar branches?  You weren’t at home on the Shetland Islands (just deprived and desperate).  Did you ever feel at home here?  I was born in this new country but I don’t belong here either.  This country doesn’t belong here.  There’s no belonging in the modern world.
Even the deceased are in exile.  You might’ve sensed this while watching bones fall from the treetops behind your new home — that place where the people you called Indians used to hang their dead.
Maybe in that moment you noticed permanence is impossible — that settlement and ownership are lies.