Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Transient

“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth...not going all the way, and not starting.”

The week before I left Edmonton I remember sitting on the apartment balcony with Chad discussing the coming changes.  I was expressing my conflicted feelings.  While I was extremely excited to be moving up in the industry, getting a salary position at much higher pay with much more responsibility and the adventure of starting over in a new city again, I also had to admit I was very apprehensive about the first few months.

I recounted the story of my first few months in Edmonton and how alone I was, and filled with doubt I felt.  The doubt was the worst part.  To leave behind a perfectly good life for hope of a better one is a risky trade off.  To let go of something, hoping for a greater return in the future is a romantic concept, but doesn’t always end that way.  And to be haunted by these thoughts for months, while you sit alone, night after night, missing the family, friends and life you left behind…  It’s not easy.

He assured me it would all be ok, and I knew he was probably right.  But I’d been through this trial before, and barely made it out with my conviction.  By the time Chad moved to Edmonton I’d already formed a life waiting to welcome him.  My friends were looking forward to meeting him, and he had an apartment to live with me in waiting for him.  There were no dark lonely nights for him, just staying up playing Uncharted in our living room, and having house-warming parties with all my friends.  And Olga would be moving out to join him in 2 months.  He realized this, but stood firm that I’d get through it, like I had before. A good friend.

So here I sit in Halifax.  Alone in a dark apartment, desperately missing something as simple as sitting on a balcony with my friend.  This trial isn’t any easier the second time around, in fact in many ways it’s harder.  When I moved to Edmonton it wasn’t so much going to Edmonton but escaping Winnipeg.  I loved my family and friends, but my life had stalled out, and I needed a total change of scenery to grow.  Moving here was not escaping Edmonton.  It actually felt more like being exiled, what with my final contract at BioWare coming to an end.

The past 2 months have been some of the darkest of my life.  It’s been incredibly lonely.  The city feels very unwelcoming.  I live in one of the absolute worst areas in Halifax where I fear for my safety.  While I like the job and the people I work with, it’s been difficult to make friends even there, and sometimes I’m overcome with self-doubt about my work performance.  The city layout forces me to bus to work.  The costs of moving twice in 3 months including a cross-country move have left me feeling the poorest I’ve even been, despite making the most I ever have.  My nights are filled with the doubt that this was a bad decision, and everything I let go of is not coming back.

And this move feels different.  When I moved to Edmonton, Winnipeg felt “next door”.  It was where I just came from.  Now I’m twice removed from the city I grew up in.  I moved to Halifax from Edmonton, but I’m from Winnipeg.  Sometimes I feel so lost, like a transient with no home.  Home is beginning to feel like a foreign concept.  I knew what it meant once to have history somewhere.  A place where people knew you, where you came from, and how you became the man you are now.  Now I feel like I’m always the new guy.  I have no history, and I’m just passing through.

But I’m reminded of Chad’s words.  That I would make it through this, I have before.  And I’m beginning to realize he was right.

Things are finally getting better, and I’m feeling hope again.  I’m getting good feedback at work and I’ve made a few friends there.  I’ve made some friends outside of work as well.  I met a girl on the bus and have hung out with her a few times for coffee.  A friend of a friend just moved to the city as well, and we have hung out a few times, and I move in with him tomorrow!  Living with a new friend will go far in making this city feel more like home.  It’s a nicer place in a nicer area as well.  And on the next check I should be all caught up on moving costs and I should finally start seeing all the extra money that brought me here in the first place.  Having some spending money will also make this feel a bit more like home.

I’m finally beginning to be able to picture a future in this city.  And that’s a major turning point.  It was after 2 months of desperation that things finally started to fall into place in Edmonton, and in the end Edmonton was the best period of my life thus far! 

I think this trial is ending, and just like last time the only thing I managed to carry through it was my conviction.  And now I’m beginning to see the rewards.  The sense of adventure has returned.  I just moved to the East Coast!  To run a department and earn a salary!  I work by the ocean!  I WALKED THE OCEAN SIDE DURING A HURRICANE!  Yes, leaving Winnipeg set me on a path that has been harder than I anticipated, but it’s also been more rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

I remember as I packed the last of my things into my car in Edmonton, Chad and I had our manly handshake and did our best to hide our emotions.  It was all very Joey & Chandler.  “Enjoy your life here, Chad.  Edmonton’s been good to me” I told him.  And as I drove off I watched Chad waving goodbye, leaving him to the life I’d made in Edmonton, the life I never expected to blossom.  And yet it had become my home.  And while I knew it was Chad’s home now, and that he would have his own adventures there, I was off to start a new one of my own.

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