I am not very good at goodbyes, they make me uncomfortable.
I do not know of anyone who likes goodbyes. I don't even like writing them. Admittedly, I left writing this post to come back to it. Sorry about the lack of order.
Leaving the Little John Site was a bit of a scramble but we managed it. As with most goodbyes, it was bittersweet. It's thought-provoking to be in a place and know you may never be back there again. The places I would go to and return to if money was no option. I'm definitely going to try to convince my parents who are picking me up in Whitehorse to make a drive through Beaver Creek, preferably on a Sunday or Wednesday for a last slow pitch game.
Because while the Archaeology was cool: hearths, obsidian flakes, a rodent tooth, bone fragments, and a preliminary or perhaps heavily eroded side-notched point in addition to other student's impressive finds of blades, a complete bison heel bone, a perhaps 13000+ year old game-changer biface, and the admittedly really cool, very old squirrel bones, behind all of those things except perhaps some of the bones, is people. The cultural material only exists because of people. Accordingly, it is the people that made my experience in Beaver Creek. People like Leslie, Chelsea, Tamika, Eddy, Blake, Bessie, Wilfred, Louis and Robert, Eldred, Jessica, Pat, Pat's wife (whose name unfortunately always evades me), Jolinda, Ryan, Glen, other Glen, Marilyn, DJ, Mike, Tristain, Leon, Tayla, Tom, Forrest, Ian, Martha, Julius, Susie, Selena, Roland, Star, Derrick, Ken, Doug, many more people and names I am forgetting, and of course Ruth and David. A list of names that may be forgotten corresponding to a community of people I intend never to forget.
Luckily, Tamika had the great idea to have hers and Eddy's birthday celebration before we left so there was a nice gathering that unfortunately ended with goodbyes. The birthday party felt like home: copious amounts of food, the older people eating first, and three types of dessert (because one just isn't enough).
It felt like home because of the parallel's to my own family's celebrations but also due to the welcome we were afforded in our time at the Little John Site: our welcome sign the first day, countless visits, teaching us Upper Tanana and how to make birch bark baskets, shotgun and rifle shooting, ball games, numerous other activities; their way of life. As David said, we are now ambassadors of their culture and if possible, I hope to be able to show some of the character the White River First Nation showed us.
No, I am not good at goodbyes. What do you say? How do you thank enough, wish well enough people who did so much yet you may never see again? Consequently of these thoughts, I am a most awkward person at goodbyes and perhaps do not look like I feel much, but as I put this goodbye on paper, I could cry.
But instead, I choose to smile at both David and Eddy describing my hair as bushy in one night, Eldred's well wishes to all of us, Ruth telling me to get over my fear of birds as she said goodbye, and huge hugs from Tamika and Eddy.
I will smile and remember fondly the people who made my time in Beaver Creek.