Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Stranger in a Strange Land

When I was seventeen, I left my small-town home and went off to a big city in the south to attend university. At the end of my first year, I moved back home to live with my parents for the summer and work. In September, I moved back to the city for second year, and so on. Pretty typical. Lots of young people begin their adult life this way. My experience varied only in that my home town was small, rough, and pioneer-like, and more than 1000 kilometers from the university city.

By the time I was 24, I had moved at least twice a year for seven years, almost every time to a different apartment or living situation, and I had lived in six cities or towns in two different Canadian provinces. I was an old hand at moving. I had worked my way through university completing two degrees, spent a summer backpacking through Europe, was just starting my first professional position, and was about to get married. However, I still wasn't ready to settle down.

Over the next eight years, I moved six more times, lived in three cities in two provinces, bought two houses, had four different jobs, gave birth to two children, and enrolled in another university degree program. Whew! I get tired just thinking about it.

In contrast, my middle years have been much more stable. I have lived in three houses, each in a different city, and stayed in the most recent home for eight years. And somehow, along the way, I have lost the knack of moving.

If you have been following my blog, you will recall that in April of this year I uprooted my family, sold my one-of-a-kind log house in a coastal rainforest, waved goodbye to friends and family, and moved far away in pursuit of a great job opportunity.

The new city is lovely. It has parks, walking trails, beautiful vistas, clear air, and good shopping. People are friendly and helpful. The new job is a little overwhelming at the moment, but it offers new intriguing challenges. We have moved into an old house with character and great bones, not to mention a large private yard with gardens, trees, and many song birds.

But I am homesick. I feel like a tourist here in this city. I am ready for the visit here to be over now; it's time to go home. Except, oh no! I've bought a house here and committed to five years at the new job.

I really had settled into a happy life in that northern town. I miss my friends, and the activities and pursuits that make up life's fabric: fly fishing in the wild rivers, exploring logging roads on a mountain bike or cross country skis, buying Asian condiments at the specialty foods store and pants that fit at my friend Lori's store. I don't think I had quite realized how much my core identity is wrapped up in being a northerner from northern British Columbia.

I left for a great job opportunity. It was a sensible decision, the right career choice. I've moved many times before. What the heck -- we can do it. I'm sure that we just need to give it time. We will settle in here and meet people, and be glad we had the courage to make this leap into the unknown.

However, at the moment I almost feel as though I have lost both my home and my self. I am a visitor here in a strange land.

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