From there to here: the [abridged] story of my life

11 Mar

You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, you can steer yourself in any direction you choose.

Dr. Seuss: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!


[photo from the depths of my Facebook account, August 2006]

I have contemplated my own decisions before; however, I have been doing this more often as of late due to recent events. I have thought about what would have been different had I stayed in Ontario. The chances I would have had. The opportunities to build relationships with those I’d known. But not once had I been made to feel guilty about those choices. Not until now.

I’m come from a farm outside a town of 5,500 to a city of about 333,000 to a city of over a million. From the dribble of a river called the Maitland, to the great Thames, to the majestic Saskatchewan. From Coles notes to briefing notes. From theoretical discussion to strategic planning. From an overabundance of Tim Hortons to a lack thereof. From jeans and flip flops to business suits and heels. From taking classes because I had to in order to attain my degree, to taking classes simply for the sake of learning. From politics courses, to being involved in political groups. From women’s studies classes, to groups promoting women in politics. From a Liberal government to a PC government. From a province rich in water to a province rich in oil.

Along this journey, I’ve built friendships and strengthened the bonds with my family. I visit less, but talk to them more. I’ve taken to calling home to ask for my mother’s advice — something I never imagined as I left home as a teen.

I’ve worked hard and faced many questions from those who didn’t understand my path, finally to get here and hear those words I’d long since given up on hearing — “I’m proud of you.”

I’ve gone from a student’s life of uncertainty, traveling down a road of unknowns, finally to come to this place. This place, though still moving along that same road, has afforded me stable ground and less questions. For the first time I can see where I am and where I’m going. Rather than being on a never-ending path of uncertainty, this path has purpose in and of itself. No longer am I aiming to get a job — just any relatable job — post-graduation. Rather, I have found a career and became involved in my community. I have found my place.

I’ve gained a different perspective. I’ve lived another way of life. As the bus returning from work nears downtown, the view of the skyline gives me a boost — I truly feel like I’m going home.

I’ve taken a lot of risks to be here. Within a week, I moved. Solely on the hopeful basis of a writing test — not even yet an actual job interview. I took a huge leap and became the top choice of hundreds. Not just a job to pay for school, but a career. The career. The career I had been working towards through all of those all-night cram sessions and the endless essay writing.

And it was scary. It was terrifying to call up housing ads — sometimes up to forty per day — only to hear there were no vacancies. To interview for an apartment like my Ontarian counterparts interview for jobs. Sitting in that empty apartment, waiting for my sole piece of furniture — my bed — to arrive, wondering what I’d gotten myself into. Being flashed back to those first days in that old city, surrounded by people and yet feeling so completely alone.

It was all worth it.

Because of the people I’ve met, the friendships I’ve built, hearing the fabulous things coworkers have said about me. Because of small victories like figuring out the transit system. Because of weekly [early afternoon] “brunches” with the girls at our little bakery, with the sweet-as-sugar man who greets us by name and regales us with stories of his own world travels. Because of the happiness I feel when taking the train across the river — seeing the lights of the city reflect on the surface. Because of the fresh Alberta air and exploring the city with my partner-in-crime roomie.

I swore I would never move to any one city because of someone else. Likewise, I couldn’t stay for that very same reason. I am satisfied that I left each place, each stage of my life, when I had finished learning. I have taken all that I could from these places, to stay and become stale was not an option.

Perhaps certain friendships are only meant to span periods of time. Perhaps they’re only meant to add to us and help us grow when we need them, only to move on when we no longer do. True friends are the ones who are there no matter the distance between. They have proven their worth in late-night phone calls, surprise packages in the mail to aid homesickness, and the excitement they show in the tales we swap of our individual journeys.

Edmonton may not always be the place for me, but it is where I need to be right now. It’s teaching me new things in the classrooms at the university, in my cubicle at work, in the organizations with which I’m involved and in my own living room.

Right now, I am home.
This post was originally published elsewhere in February 2007.

One Response to “From there to here: the [abridged] story of my life”

  1. mandy March 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm #

    This is a beautiful post! I had a realization at the end of this weekend that I was right where I am supposed to be right now. It sort of comes like an “ah ha” moment, doesn’t it?

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