My Apex time capsule
Some treasures cannot be bought and sold
When I was 12 I buried a time capsule in Apex, that little half-town that would be a suburb if Iqaluit were actually a city. I’m not going to tell you exactly where I put it, I want it to be there when I go back to find it.
I was leaving town, moving south to Vancouver, almost as far from Iqaluit as you can get in Canada. I had lived in Apex for six years and it was hard to leave. I knew I would be back, but just in case, I thought I’d give myself a good reason to return.
I had heard about a time capsule buried in the foundation of a building, and I thought that would be the perfect reason to come home. I hadn’t planned on pouring any foundations, so I decided to bury a box in the ground instead. And I wanted my box to be just like they were in the movies.
If a safekeeping box was buried in a movie it was always tin, buried fairly shallow in the ground, rusty and earthy. Every man returning to his childhood home, every dog and every boy in every movie dug up an old, rusty tin box.
I pictured the scene of my return to dig up the box and collect my riches. The sun setting behind the hills, the treasure in my raised hands silhouetted against the brilliance of the sunset, the credits rolling at the end of the movie about my life.
So I set out to get the stuff to put into the box. I gathered the kinds of things you would expect any 12-year-old to bury for the future. A Simpsons comic book, some rookie cards of baseball players who now might be superstars, or maybe janitors. One of the first loonies, the oldest pennies I could find.
But finding the stuff to put inside the box was the easy part; the hard part was finding the right box to put them in. Tin cans just aren’t used as much as they used to be, and one big enough to hold my loot was very hard to find. I thought to use one of my sister’s jewellery boxes, but the scene of my return would be ruined when I dug up the flower-decorated wooden box.
Luckily, my father had bought a tin Ritz cracker box, an anniversary edition that I’m guessing was made to look like they did in the beginning — I’m not old enough to remember when crackers always came in tin boxes.
So I took the four cracker tubes out of the tin and stacked them neatly in the cupboard. The box was nice — blue and red, with children happily eating the velvety biscuits. It will look good rusty.
I filled the can and taped the lid shut, then wrapped it in alternating layers of plastic bag and tape. Nothing was going to get in to ruin my time capsule. I chose a spot to bury it, took note of landmarks to help me find it again, and put the box as deep as I could into the ground.
And now, whenever I’m near it, I have to resist the temptation to dig it up. If I dug it up now none of the things would be worth very much, not to anyone else at least. That’s what I tell myself – and it’s worked so far because the box is still hidden.
But I can’t wait to get my treasures back, to live out that closing scene for the film of my life. But I’m afraid the box might be gone, and the ending for an ironic, unfulfilled life will play out when I finally decide to dig.
So in case someone does find my time capsule before I get to it, I taped a note to the lid asking for the can to be returned to a certain address. I don’t live there anymore, so don’t bother, just keep it. Or better yet, put the box back where you found it and let me have my moment.
And if that moment does come, and I see those things again, there are going to be other things, more important things, buried in that box with them — my memories of life in Apex.
Midnight sun, playing Inuktitut baseball until 3 a.m., gravel rash, playing road hockey on skates, walking to school through blizzards because Hillary made it worth the trip.
Those are the real valuables hidden in that can, as deep down as my pre-teen arms could reach into the ground. They are the things that will bring me the most satisfaction, those treasures that cannot be bought and sold.