You know when you break up with someone for the first little while all you think about is how amazing they were, all these wonderful qualities pop into your head – half of them I am sure are something you made up to romanticize the relationship and other half while accurate, when you were in the relationship were not nearly as visible. Now that you and this person, whether a friend or lover are no longer together, there is that post-breakup pedestal haze. After a bit of time, the realistic attributes come back, you realize why you are no longer with that person.
Well I am currently in that situation with a city. A city I have called home for over 20 years, and while it never really felt like my forever place, I have done the majority of my growing up here. Gone are all the reasons I have wanted to move for the last 10 years and replaced are the memories I have made – the random nights out, the unexpected adventures and the comforts of knowing someone or in my case something inside and out. Currently what I am glossing over are the frustrations of this place, the rock bottoms I have hit, the moments of desperation and the people I have lost along the way – who are currently front and centre in my nostalgic state, don’t get me wrong, I hope to secretly sneak out of this city without running into them. I am not good at awkward encounters, I recall a time where I not so successfully hid behind the oranges display at the store to avoid someone – they caught me, I am 5’10 and not gracefully.
I am aware that the times I am reminiscing about are no longer part of my day to day existence, even if I had decided to continue living in the city. Those times have come and gone and have been replaced with family woman me, but now that I am truly closing a chapter of my life I can’t help but be a little sad and think back.
I moved here from Germany with my parents, when the idea of a snowstorm was more exciting than getting in at your favourite brunch place and not having to wait the 45 minutes. I made friends quickly and like most kids was a lot better at adapting to change than I am now, however I knew pretty early on that while this city has some wonderful characteristics, she and I never truly understood or appreciated each other. When my parents moved away in my early twenties I was going to travel the world, take a gap year and see where I ended up – not so secretly hoping it would be back to Europe, however the week I was meant to buy my plane ticket I was offered a job at an advertising firm, a field I tried to break into for the previous two years. So I took to the job offer, and every time I had one foot out of the door, another job opportunity kept me here, one of the great things of living in a bustling metropolis.
When I was dating, I was open to meeting people from all backgrounds, but knew if it was someone who was born and bred here it would be hard for me to kiss the idea of moving elsewhere good-bye. Luckily I met a wonderful man, who like me was rootless. See both he and I had always stopped short of investing completely here, both renters – not all by choice, a city with great attributes also comes with high price tags on houses, but we both have a bit of gipsy in us – he by personality and me by blood, and the idea of a forever home is a bit terrifying. A home sounds wonderful but I know at some point I will get itchy feet. My forever home, will be the home I end up passing from but not planned that way. When I brought him to Eastern Canada where my parents now live he fell in love with the beauty, the ocean, the lifestyle and the fact that it was that much closer to Ireland and his family. I had told him I was willing to move to Ireland but he said he wasn’t done with Canada yet, so Nova Scotia it is.
A few days ago my partner asked me what is the little thing I am excited about once we have moved to the other side of Canada. Besides the obvious of setting up a home – at least for the next decade, playing in the ocean and being closer to family, I said getting lost. I want to explore, I want to discover and not know where to go and what to see. Getting lost is something I am not good at, the one talent I have is my sense of direction – great attribute prior to GPS, but now completely useless unless an actual zombie apocalypse happens. Either way, I am going to try to lose my way in our new city, and hopefully in the process find some hidden gems.
Over the last few weeks we have been doing our rounds, seeing friends for the the last time, at least for the foreseeable future. These are my pack people, the ones that stepped in after my parents moved away. Each of them bringing their own memories, influences and adventures, and I have leaned on them for different reasons. They have bared witness to some cringe worthy moments and seen the different stages of my metamorphosis to where I am today. At each of these last hangout evenings, there comes a moment where I look around and feel really old, like I have lived a lifetime with them – which I suppose in a way I did, and then I feel really young, to think of all that is left to see and do and how I am just now taking that first step into this new direction – something I have envisioned for over a decade.
I am saying goodbye to my old hangouts, the drinking kind, the eating kind and shopping kind. We are almost done packing, we have made the cutthroat decisions on what we deem worthy enough to pay a shit-ton of money to send across the country, and what items we feel someone else might now get better use of. When we talked about how we would get ourselves across this vast and beautiful country, driving was at the bottom of that list, but now that is the option we are taking. Of course since it’s me there are five different ‘choose your own adventure’ road-trip alternatives, depending on how we and Cillian handle the long drives, and what part of Canada we want to spend a bit more time in. The last thing left is to make sure we have the perfect playlist to capture this journey, and also keep us coherent when there is 49 hours of open road ahead of us.
There we have it, 10 years of dreaming, two years of planning and we are now down to days.
“Adventures must start with running away from home” William Bolitho