In 2008 we headed West, packing our lives into a U-haul, our hearts overflowing with memories, leaving behind the only home and lives our kids had ever known. After spending our growing up years and the early years of our marriage on the East Coast surrounded by family and friends I am surprised at how deeply and quickly our roots sunk in here. My husband and I credit our jobs and a few close friends for firmly rooting us in this Western life but for our children it is their home, their friends that have become family, their sense of community and the opportunities they have been afforded to do the things they are passionate about.
It was the summer of 2008 when we arrived at our new home in Alberta and because we had a good reason for being here it began to feel like home remarkably quickly. As a family we had been apart for eight months while my husband worked in the Alberta Oil Sands so geography seemed like a reasonable thing to try to overcome to be able to be together as a family as much as possible. But even so, the sense of belonging to a place, the feeling that where we are is where we were meant to be, still depends just as much — if not more — on our attitude about the place as it does on the place itself.
Edmonton is not my home in the sense of heart and family. I am proud to have been born and raised in the fair province of Nova Scotia. I love the ocean and will always be captivated by salty air and crashing waves. Lakes, long coastlines, beaches and sand between my toes. I love my family and nothing can replace seeing them as I often as I would like but the thing about being from a family as close as mine is the security in knowing that you are only a thought away. I credit being close to my family as the reason I was able to move across Canada and create a life. When everyone else was full of warnings about everything I would hate in Alberta it was my family that said to me that they knew that I was strong enough to assemble a life anywhere. They would miss us at the family gatherings along the shore, for every imagined reason we could think of to get together and eat good food and tell tales but I would be in their hearts, on their minds and definitely on the tips of their tongues because with family, no matter where you go you never get left behind. There is an inclusion that happens within a family like mine that cannot be touched by time or distance. Instead of making it harder to leave, this made it easier really, knowing that they wished us well and had nothing but good thoughts and high hopes for our journey ahead. The vastness of the land between us would never sever our bonds.
That all being said eight years have come and gone since we landed in Alberta. I remember like it was yesterday how my husband whisked us off to Jasper immediately because he knew I would be enamored with the mountains and it would alleviate the heaviness in my heart. I was awestruck by the majestic Rocky Mountains, standing proud and tall and on guard, touching the sky with their monumental peaks and reminding me just how small we are in this great big, phenomenal world. Lakes of Caribbean blue that mirrored the lofty, snow capped summits made my heart ache for my ocean playground a little less. Like a John Green novel, slowly at first and then quickly all at once I fell in love.
There was a moment last summer that my husband and I decided it was time to move home to Nova Scotia. We want to be close to family and lead a simple life, watch our grandkids grow up. We were very excited and started planning a timeline and telling family, trying to convince the girls.
As it often does, life happened and almost another year has passed since making that decision. The bottom fell out of the Oil Sands and financially took a lot of our immediate choices away. The timing wasn’t right when things were good and it is even worse now when things are bad. Funny the wrenches that get thrown into your life, but I am a firm believer that there is a reason for everything that will reveal itself in time.
Looking back to last summer after we made the decision to move home we had taken a trip to our favorite spot in the East Kootenay’s along the shores of the Upper Arrow Lakes. It is our spot for calm and clarity, to unplug and unwind and remember the things that are really important. When I step onto the little ferry that takes us to Burton, British Columbia it strangely feels like coming home. I remember staring up at a starry sky over the lake and being overcome with emotion wondering how I could walk away and never see that place again. My husband took my hand and said “I get it”, knowingly; because his heart was ravaged as well.
Like a time aged tale of being torn between two lovers my heart is divided and may always be, no matter where our story leads us.
Unfortunately living your life and making a living sometimes pulls you in entirely different directions.
It reminds me of a saying,
“Wherever you go, there you’ll be”
Indeed here I am, and what am I to do but make the best of the story that I am in the middle of?
Another fitting quote if you will allow me,
“Wherever you are be the soul of that place”
I will be. I am committed to it.This place has been good to me and my family. The people have been warm and kind. The community has embraced us. We have had good times and great experiences. I know that it is not my forever but it is my right now. Like a line from the 1970 hit by Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills and Nash, “Love the one you’re with”
Attitude is everything!