When I last had a chance to write an entry proper I was about to start packing up my Edmonton life. I'd organized the move, budgeted out my moving expenses and was beginning to grasp the gravity of what I was about to do... Again. I finally bought a wireless keyboard for my iPad so I can now write everything that's happened since then. Prepare for a long entry.
My last week in Edmonton was surreal. First of all, the city was engulfed in smoke. Some BC forest fires had been going out of control and the smoke made it to Edmonton.
Nathan, the awesome guy that he is, threw me not one, but two going away parties at his place. The second one was actually quite the party. Lots of people showed up, we had drinks, ordered pizza, played video games and had a bonfire. I spent most of the night outside by the fire chatting with everyone. At one point everyone came outside. We all sat around the fire chatting, Nathan had made a perfect playlist for the occasion, and it was the perfect night for a fire.
As I sat there, surrounded by all these friends, sharing memories of the last 2 years, I had a truly reflective moment. I remembered when I first arrived in Edmonton. My first month was lonely, and I'd wondered if I'd made a mistake. I missed my friends in Winnipeg and was almost haunted by the memory of my going away party. Surrounded by people who knew me and loved me, people I loved in return, I wondered if life would ever be like that again. And now here I was, at another going away party. I was surrounded by all the friends I'd made over my time there, and I knew I'd truly miss them all, and could tell they would truly miss me. I was overcome by an immense sense of pride, and I realized I'd struck gold twice. In just 2 years I'd made a life full of joy, love and laughter. I'd remember my time here for the rest of my life, and these people would be friends forever.
My last full day in Edmonton started with my last day at BioWare. It was surreal. A week before my last day the seating arrangements for QA were moved around. By pure chance I ended up in room 555. This was the room I'd started in 2 years earlier. It reminded me of the days when I started, working in that room with Nathan, Dave, Dann, and led by Zac, all complete strangers at the time. At the time I hadn't planned on being in Edmonton or at BioWare for more than 3 months. I was very much into Kyra at the time, and was trying to maintain a long distance.... something with her. And here I was 2 years later, sitting in the same room, a completely different person, leading a completely different life. Since then I'd made Edmonton a home, made some amazing friends, had become extremely ambitious and was now about to make another move. We all went out for a final lunch, and had some great laughs and food.
I had to leave a little early to be home in time for the movers, so as I packed the last of my stuff it began to sink in. I went office to office, and I won't lie, I got a bit misty eyed as I said goodbye to some of the people who I'd become so close to. I couldn't believe I wouldn't see them walking down the halls of BioWare anymore. I wouldn't go on lunch breaks with them, have cheap Ikea lunch days, have beers and cake on their respective BioWare Fridays with them. This was it.
It was also oddly emotional to be leaving behind the Dragon Age franchise. I'd started as a typical play-tester on Dragon Age: Origins, then through a newfound ambition made it onto Dragon Age: Awakening in a much higher responsibility role. Then after my 3 months off I was now on Dragon Age 2 on the content team, responsible for overseeing several plots. And now I'd be leaving it behind. I won't see it again until it's released and I pick up a copy.
I stopped by my cousin's office on the way out and thanked him for everything. If it weren't for him I'd never have found my calling. Before this, I was completely aimless in life. He'd let me live in his house, got me an interview at his company, and was always willing to give great advice. He wished me the best in Halifax and I went to reception to turn in my pass card and hand in my final timesheet. As I left the building, I looked back and it finally truly hit me. The best period of my life thus far was ending, at this very moment.
I got home and did the last bit of my packing. Wrote my final little entry I could before packing my computer, and waited for the movers. And waited. And waited. Chad showed up after work and we'd had plans to go see Scott Pilgrim together, one last night hanging out while we lived in the same city. But the movers still hadn't showed. We were kind of bummed, and I was getting stressed. The movers office was closed so I could only sit around and wait for the movers to show up. We ordered some pizza and watched a movie at home, the whole while my eyes were on the window waiting for the movers to show. And they never did.
The plan had originally been to leave bright and early the next morning. But my stuff was still there, so I called the movers again. Still closed. I had never been so poorly treated by a business before. If you're ever moving long distance from Edmonton, NEVER use Burly Boys Moving & Storage. I'm reporting them to the Better Business Bureau for their horrific service. At the last minute I had to make new arrangements. Once everything was set up, it was about noon. I spent about an hour stalling, not wanting to leave this life. Chad had moved out only a few months earlier, we lived together in an awesome apartment we were renting from Dave, a close friend of mine. I couldn't believe I was leaving right after Chad got there, finally living in the same city again, with Olga about to move out too! We sat on the balcony and reminisced. More misty eyes.
Eventually it was time, and as I packed the last of my stuff into my car, Chad and I had our manly handshake, hiding all emotion. Chad and I talked about how it was kind of like I'd spent 2 years building a life, and was now handing it over to Chad to go do it all over again. And right before I drove off, I told Chad I hoped it did everything for him it did for me. Maybe it's just me, but this kind of thing does NOT get easier with practice. I was an emotional wreck for the first hour of the drive. But it was a long drive, and gave me a chance to think it through, grieve, and make my peace with it.
Edmonton is where I truly found myself. It's where I finally became truly independent. I found a passion I'd been looking for my whole life. I found a future for myself. I made some of the best friends anyone could ask for, and they all taught me a lot about myself. Edmonton will always have a special place in my heart, and I will miss it, and the people in it for the rest of my life. It's not the home I grew up in, it's the home I made.