Moving never really seemed to be a huge deal for me.
Apart from packing up a never-ending heap of crap, and scrubbing down an apartment that seemed to always have one more windowsill or light cover or tap handle to clean (I owe you several for the elbow grease, mom and dad) moving was mundane until hitting the highway to Whistler.
When I move I pack up my car real tight with clothes and kitchen stuff and a little kitsch — and tie some of it to a roof rack — and I just go.
But that's not true for everyone.
My holidays last month were perfectly timed, since I was able to spend a week in Winnipeg helping my partner Kerilee get set to move to the Vancouver area. We spent some of the evenings packing up, trying to figure what she could replace financially and emotionally and what absolutely needed to somehow get into her little Toyota Echo. (A lot of the art didn't make the cut but a surprising number of coffee mugs did. Go figure.)
The week I was there also served as a goodbye for her and a "Hello, I'm taking your friend/daughter back with me" for me with her pals and family. It was a bit of a whirlwind meeting everyone, perhaps getting sized up here and there, but in the end, they let me return and let Kerilee go.
During the holiday, we took a quick trip to the small beach town of Gimli (which was incorporated before the Lord of the Rings character debuted, just in case any fantasy fans were wondering) for iced coffee and then continued about 15 minutes north to the site where my grandparents used to have a trailer. Even though I hadn't been up there since they sold in 2008, there were many familiar welcoming signs and smiling painted rocks and other cottage-life knick-knacks at the Spruce Sands RV Resort. You stop visiting and then you leave, and even though rain weathers the paint on the rocks or a new family takes on a site, a lot of things still stay the same. And in all honesty, the beach looked to be in better shape than I remember.
But back in the city, it was back to reality.
I was leaving in just a couple days and Kerilee just two after that. There were still the practical matters of transporting her two cats, Patrick and Otis, three provinces to the west safely and relatively happily, even though she wasn't sure if she'd be flying or driving. She flew, and the cats seemed mainly confused and shut down and slept until it was all over.
Flying meant figuring out how to get her car out, which was another rigmarole that took a few days to solve. And being carless meant commuting from Maple Ridge to her office in, (whispers) Surrey for a couple of weeks. The first week, she had my car, which had very conveniently gone kaput in honour of her first weekend as a British Columbian.
But even beyond the practical obstacles, moving was far more bittersweet for her than my moves seemed to be — like it probably should be — and I couldn't help but wonder why.
Was it because she had more close childhood friends that she was leaving? Is it because she works in a field where one is less likely to need to move? Because my first move to Ontario was done like ripping off a Band-Aid, so quickly that even though I had quit my Joe job, my boss called me as I drove to see if I was still free to cover a shift?
How about because I was just moving for work, while she was also moving to further a relationship and putting more on the line?
Or is it just that she has a bigger heart than me and maybe I'm a little bit awful at saying goodbye?
I love and miss my friends and family back home and they welcomed this prodigal pal back with open arms after I bolted eastward. With the marvels of modern technology, we keep in touch, no problem.
And when I moved this way, I at least had the security of talking to my predecessor, Eric MacKenzie, during the process and determining Pique and Whistler would be a good fit. It was the first time I'd been offered a job and didn't feel I absolutely had to take it, but knew it would be a real mushy-minded move if I didn't.
It's not quite as hard to leave if you're excited and confident about where you're going. During the drive, I recall feeling melancholy and maybe a little wistful as I crossed the Prairies. When hitting the mountains, that attitude certainly changed to "Everything's going to be a-OK."
And, thankfully, it's been far more than a-OK.
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