“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” – Anatole France
It’s been about 3 years since I moved away from Winnipeg. When I did, I really only planned to be gone for 3 months. I’d lived there my whole life, and until a recent road-trip, I’d been completely content with the idea of living there the rest of my life. My family lived there, I had life-long friends, I knew the city… Now I doubt I’ll ever live there again.
Even after all this time, it still hits me sometimes and I have to just take a second to take it in. I’m living in Halifax, on the East Coast, working a salary position in the videogame industry. Before that I lived in Edmonton for over 2 years, with a group of great friends there, working at BioWare. How the hell did that happen!? I always expected to grow old in the city I was born in. I never expected things to change too much. But they have.
Sometimes as I’m falling asleep I still expect to wake the next morning in my room on Horace Street, the apartment I lived in with 3 of my friends. I’d spend some time on the computer for a bit in my little computer room, then drive the Honda to Rogers Video and work a shift with Craig or Lauren, maybe Omar. Watch Aladdin or Ferris Beuler at work, rent a free movie or game on the way home. Brett would get home from his shift at Little Caesar’s, maybe bring home a pizza. Brett, Linda, Tim and I would watch a movie, Jeff and/or Andi might come over. On the weekend I’d catch a movie with Chad at the St. Vital Famous Players, maybe some Smitty’s for lunch first, then he’d come over with Olga and we’d all have some beers and play some Rock Band.
My mind still can’t seem to grasp the fact that it’s been 3 years since then. And that not only has my life has gone on since then, but so has theirs. I still feel like I could go back to that if I chose to. I could just fly back, get my job at Rogers Video again and move back into my old room. Have everyone over and just say “Hey guys! I’m back!”, and just fall back into the familiar.
But that’s not the case. I wouldn’t recognize the people who answered the door at Horace, my friends moved out of there a long time ago. When I went to Rogers Video for my old job, I’d find a mattress store. Rogers Video closed last year, and everyone I worked with have moved on to other things. If I dropped by Chad’s place to invite him and Olga to a movie, I’d remember they now live in Edmonton, 1400 kilometers away from the St Vital Famous Players. Tim and I wouldn’t be going grocery shopping together for supplies for the apartment, he lives in Vancouver now. Brett and Linda will soon be following. Andi lives a whole other life now, as do many friends I’ve fallen out of touch with.
That life is over. It’s not continuing in some place I can choose to return to. Those people no longer exist, they’ve grown and changed; those places are no longer those places, other people lead different lives there now. The places erode and are rebuilt, constantly changing, to the point I don’t recognize my home town a little more every time I visit. The people I used to hang out with every other night now live as far as the other side of the country. But the real kicker is knowing that even if that life did still exist, perfectly preserved as I left it, and I were to return to it, I’d find it didn’t matter at all how different or the same it is. I’ve changed. I’m not that person anymore either.
It’s not that I want to be that person again, or even want to return to that life. But I never got proper closure on that time in my life. An impulse decision to move, something temporary inadvertently becoming permanent, ambitions driving me across the country and changing me in the process, the whole while some subconscious part of me felt like it was still just for 3 months, then I’d be going back home. But home is gone. And for the time being, I am transient. Part of the job.
That sudden break from a life I’d known and built for decades probably left a permanent mark. It’s not a bad thing, just an experience that has formed me. On some level, that life will always be waiting for me to return. Brett and Linda are at Horace in the living room, playing with the Pug. Tim’s in his room recording a track. Craig, Lauren and Jenna are working at Rogers, making plans to go to The Toad that night. Chad’s working at Wal-Mart and then Olga’s spending the night. Andi’s always ready for a late night conversation over some cigarettes in the car in front of her place. Kyra is excited about our next date. And when I get back, we’ll al go to Earl’s for some drinks, and continue that life where we left off…