I will admit that I lived here in I think 2003, maybe 2002? It was right after undergrad, and I had reached a point where I needed to leave my roommate situation, and was also really burnt out. I came to Banff for six months, and it was pretty hard. My grandfather was dying at the time, and I had to make some emergency trips back, it was a difficult time for me mentally and personally. Plus there’s a big difference between going somewhere for a residency, vs living there. I also wasn’t living on campus at the time. I was curious to see how things had changed, and how they haven’t. I was also interested to see how I would feel being back. Its interesting for me because I’ve already done a lot of the hikes / outdoor stuff / etc. to be done here, so I wondered how it would be different for me coming back.
For starters, the Centre is a lot less wild feeling than it used to be. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but its certainly gathered itself up over the last decade and a half and it took me a bit by surprise. There are definitely some stronger rules afoot, and as far as I can tell BNMI got rolled into the rest of the centre and things have gone through a massive rebranding. The campus too, has more facilities, and its pretty nice inside and out. That said I sure do miss the crusty bar I used to drink at on campus, The lack of one is a bit annoying, tho I’m sure in summer there’s still a lot of “I see you took X and wandered into the hills”. JPL is pretty much the same, the Kinner centre is super new, and it seems like a chunk of rooms got an upgrade, tho the chalets I assume, are still the same inside.
It feels weird being in a place with such amazing facilities, but not really needing to use them. I admit that my needs are very self contained. i mostly just need internet and a computer, and a calm environment to plot and program and read. But sometimes the point isn’t facilities, sometimes its just taking yourself out of your routine and putting yourself into a new one.
I think what’s different this time around is that I feel immediately part of something right off the bat. I’ve gotten to know my cohort pretty quickly because we’re always around one another, that’s not a thing I got when working here. It took more time, and I had to commute up and down the hill every day. But I admit I’m also in a better place with myself, and I have a reason to be here, and something to study and produce. Which is very different. I’m also not burnt out. I spent my time right after my graduate degree applying for things and not making work for a bit. I just couldn’t, it was too much of an ask after spending a year writing 100 pages and producing a body of thesis prototypes. I showed stuff, and did panels, and talks. And now I’m in a good spot to start making things again.
Banff itself as a town, hasn’t changed that much. There’s still a lot of turn over in the population from season to season, and let’s face it, there’s like 4 liquor stores in town. So y’know that’s still a thing here, which I do enjoy. Its like every bar just becomes a watering hole after 10pm, and I’m partial to dives. That said its still weird, and interesting, and has some of the classic tourist town dichotomies going on. I thought it would be much colder here in winter, but its apparently been pretty mild this year. The elk also aren’t as aggressive in winter which I will admit is nice.