The ups and downs of cross-country moving

I’ve always been curious: always wanting to know whatever it is I don’t know, see what I haven’t yet seen, do what I haven’t yet done. It’s part of the reason why I chose the career path I have. That said, I never anticipated that desire for adventure, insatiable curiosity and love of news would lead to as many moves as it has over the past 5 years…

Since January 2010, I’ve lived or worked in five cities. Five cities in almost 5 years. This is not something I’d planned for–at all…and yet I have no regrets.

My first move–to Newfoundland–is still the most memorable. I remember packing two suitcases and venturing off to a province I’d only ever read about. When the plane landed that night in January 2010, I couldn’t see a thing out the window for the fog (pea soup is how the locals described it). My boss at the time (a woman I both respect and will never forget) picked me up from the airport and drove me to the B&B where I’d be staying until I found an apartment. She was the only person I knew–not just at CBC NL, but in the entire province.

Over the course of the next 2.5 years, St. John’s became my home; the people I met there, my family. I still believe it’s the best move I ever made.

After that came a short stint in Edmonton, followed by a longer stay in Calgary–a city I never thought I’d love, but can’t seem to get enough of (except when it snows. I’ve had enough of that). There’s something about life in Calgary–life in western Canada that’s grown on me…

Regardless of what part of the country I’ve found myself in, there’s one thing that’s always been the same: Canadians are indeed a friendly bunch. Despite having moved to cities where I haven’t known a soul, I’ve never felt alone: I’ve had more orphan Thanksgivings/Christmases/New Years with complete strangers than anyone should have! Over the past five years, my birthday has never gone uncelebrated (one year, my friends bought me three cakes. Three cakes!). Gifts from friends in NL always appear in my mailbox come Christmas time. And there are still regular phone calls with my cross-country network of friends to discuss work, stories, news (and, of course, all the other “important topics” women in their 30s talk about).

Now, there are only a few things I dislike about all this moving. Chief among them? Packing. It gets easier the more you do it, but it will never be fun. You wanna know what else isn’t fun? Unpacking. The only thing that trumps both of those torturous tasks is having to say goodbye. That never gets easier.

That said, I always look forward to what comes after the ‘goodbye’: the ups and downs of a new city, a new adventure. For someone as curious as me, the change and challenge that comes with a new city has made my cross-country moving all worthwhile.

My other full-time job

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My sisters will *never* leave Toronto–much like Oprah, this is one thing I know for sure. They, like so many other Torontonians see no need to leave the big smoke…and I’ve given up trying to change their minds.

Up until 2010, the three of us (+ Mom) all shared the same home. My sisters (one older, one younger) know me better than anyone else–making them perfect roommates. While I knew I was ready to ditch TO, I wasn’t ready for the experience of life away from them: no older sister to make me dinner, no younger sister to make me laugh and (most importantly) no sisters to borrow clothes, shoes–ANYTHING–from.

However, I think I underestimated just how much absence makes the heart grow fonder. In our time apart, we’ve exchanged thousands of text messages, countless emails, lengthy (expensive) phone calls and mailed gifts (but for some reason, we’ve never Skyped or Facetimed. Weird). While there have been missed Christmases and Birthdays, I don’t feel as though I’ve missed anything at all. In fact, we have grown closer…

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The three of us have always been close. We’re close in age and are also about the same size, making for an excessive amount of wardrobe sharing (a ridiculous amount, as far as Mom was concerned. When we were teens, Mom refused to fold our laundry because she never knew who owned what). Of course there were the typical sibling fights–my younger sister and I used to fight like cat/dog growing up. Up until she came I along, I had it made: my chances of being the baby of the family were looking pretty good…  Together, we would drive our older sister bananas–back then, it was our raison d’etre.

These two months in Kitchener mark the first time I’ve lived within driving distance of my family in nearly 5 years. I’m confident I won’t spend the rest of my life/career working in Ontario–there are just too many other cities to see, places to live. Plus, I do sincerely miss life in other parts of the country–I had a blast living out east and I very much loved life out west.

I’ve decided I don’t need to live in Toronto (there, I said it) because I will always have three perfectly good reasons to visit. My Mom and sisters will always be here (or in the GTA). So, until the day I leave Ontario again, I’ll trade the phone calls and text messages for lunch dates and sleepovers (you are never too old for sleepovers. Never.). Through the years, I’ve often said sisterhood is a full-time job. It’s also the best job I’ll ever have.

Re-discovering Ontario

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Growing up in Toronto/GTA is like existing in a bubble: everything you need is here, so why bother looking anywhere else? Having grown up in this world, I’m all too familiar with the downsides of ‘bubble-living’ and the narrow-minded city dwellers that kind of lifestyle produces. Its a big part of the reason why I was so keen on leaving Ontario to pursue my career in this industry.

It wasn’t until I left Toronto/GTA and made my way to other parts of the country–particularly western Canada–that I realized just how much Canadians *dislike* (hate is just so strong a word) Toronto (hereafter referred to as the ‘Centre of the Universe’). However, that feeling is also alive and well within the province too.

I have a number of friends/colleagues who proudly call Toronto home–and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Yet, this week, I also caught up with some of my girlfriends from University who happily call smaller, lesser known Ontario towns, home–Fergus, for example–and are just as happy as my city-dwelling friends. It’s worth noting that these country converts have also lived and worked in Toronto–they know very well what they’re leaving behind…

…The same things I was also all too eager to ditch back in 2010: unbearable traffic, a stressful commute, smog, an un-affordable housing market and, to be honest, a city that had begun to feel just a bit tired.

Being close to ‘The Centre of Universe’ means I’m closer to my family–and that’s a nice feeling–but I’ve only been back to Toronto 3 times in 2 months. In that time, I’ve noticed traffic has gotten worse, the commute even more stressful…and the people less patient. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, perhaps this return to Ontario is a chance to re-discover my home province–you know, see how the rest of the universe is living. My University girlfriends have given me a list of events that I *must* attend and I plan on taking them all in (suggestion are welcome!). The countdown to the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games 2015 has already begun.

 

Nadia