Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Homeward bound, returning after so many years

'When the summer's ceased it gleaming,
When the corn is passed its prime,
When adventure's lost its meaning,
I'll be homeward bound again.'

I don't think adventure's lost its meaning for us yet, but we are homeward bound after 10 years away from Ontario.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Andrew and I (and Ruth, of course) are moving to Kitchener-Waterloo this June. I didn't specify before, but it's because Andrew will be taking up a lecturer position at the University of Waterloo. The big question now is, can it be home again?

I've only lived in KW for 2 stints (first for 8 months, then 4 years later for about a year and a half). Yet, that's where I think of as home when I think of Ontario. I'm not sure why. My first year of undergrad at UW was pretty unsuccessful (I failed my second semester chemistry course, something I've never done since--failed a course, that is), but that's also where I met Andrew. Perhaps that's why I consider it home, Waterloo is where we began our married life.

Regardless of why I think of a city I barely lived in as home, that's what it is now to be; the place where we are hoping to buy a house, settle, and raise Ruth. Do I sound a little uncertain about the move? Maybe. I'm not sure we're really uncertain or scared, we're only trying to by mindful. Mindful that both we, and the city have changed.

Every time we were back at Christmas we remarked on how many things were new: the expansion of UW into Kitchener, the makeover of Uptown Waterloo, the introduction of the Go Train, and now the construction of the ION. I understand the Engineering department at UW has changed considerably as well--growing its programs, and constructing new buildings. It won't be as potent for me, but for Andrew, who is returning to where he completed his undergraduate degree to teach--he'll have to deal with his memories as a student, adjust to changing relationships with the staff who used to be his teachers, and grow himself into a lecturer. I know he'll strive to do his best, but there will be a lot of adapting for him to do.

There's also the people in KW. We've managed to keep ties (reasonably well, I think, considering the distance at which we've lived), but when we left, many of our friends were recent grads. They too were only beginning their lives as adults. Most were unmarried, had no children, and still lived in student housing. For many friends that has changed. We are hopeful after all these years of thinking, wouldn't it be great if we could call up so-and-so tonight to see if they're free, it really will be the case when we're back in town.

Making friends in new cities has been hard--especially for me. I'm naturally an introvert, and for each move, we have moved for Andrew. He has always gone to a place with a purpose, with a 'job' (being a full-time student, and then a Post Doc, is the equivalent of having a job--with out the benefits, of course), and so has always immediately met people, who at the very least had similar academic interests. I have moved with the hope of finding a job, and thus hoped to find a crowd with which to fall in. It took a long time in Edmonton (but there are friends there I dearly miss), and I don't think I've had enough time to make many connections here Boston (there are few people, don't get me wrong). Being unable to work legally in the US has also been a hindrance,

I've always looked to Ontario as 'the sweet spot.' The place where I know people, and where maybe, people would occasionally think to include me in their plans. Yes, I often feel that people just forget about me. Not intentionally, but for whatever reason, I don't feel like I'm the first on anyone's 'must call' list when they've having a get together--I guess my Darcy-pants are a little too starched and ironed. This adds to the trepidation of the move: will I (and Andrew, too) be able to reconnect with our friends more fully, or will I find myself as lonely and out of place as ever.

So that's it. Those are my thoughts about moving, or the gist of them, anyway. I could possibly run on longer, but I would start to get rambly--if I haven't already.

Thank you to Edmonton, and to Somerville. You have helped to shape us, to grow us. We will remember you fondly.

I look forward to you, Ontario. To the friends, the family, the sights and sounds. I look forward to home, the future, to life.



Saturday, April 11, 2015

Homeward bound, but first away

'In the quiet, misty morning,
When the moon has going to bed,
When the sparrow stop their singing,...
I'll be homeward bound again.'

This is one of my favourite songs that I used to sing many, many, years ago when I was in the Oxford Youth Choir. Andrew and his siblings also sang it (in the Kitchener Youth Phil, I believe). Occasionally, when we're all at my in-laws house, and my brother-in-law is at the piano, we'll all join for a little sing-a-long (insert comment about Von Trapp family here). It's a good time.

Sometimes I'll break into it on my own, usually while walking some place semi-remote, and I can imagine I'm a better singer than I am.

Reminiscences isn't actually the point of this blog post. The point is actually to look forward.

We're moving home, to Ontario.

Andrew and I moved away from Kitchener-Waterloo nearly 10 years ago. It was, in fact, very early in the morning on probably the 1st or 2nd of September 2005. I have no recollection of why we took such an early flight since we were only flying to Edmonton (2 hours behind Ontario), possibly price--we were poor students at the time. When we arrived we rented a mini-van and drove to Ikea (on the way into Edmonton, anyway) and bought ourselves a table and chair set, a futon, and probably a few other bits and pieces.

We were going for a Master's degree (Andrew's), a couple of years at most. Then it was a PhD (during which time I also did my Masters). Edmonton, and Alberta was good to us. We both got degrees, I had a good job, we took up aerials, we made friends.

Seven and a half years later we moved again, this time from Edmonton to Somerville, Massachusetts (or, the Boston area as I usually tell people--it's just easier explain). Somerville was to be one last adventure before settling down, how could a post-doctoral position at MIT hurt Andrew's chances (seriously, what engineering school would say, you spent time at MIT, what a waste)? We could have 2 years of living in a cool city, in a different country. We did more aerials, we made more friends. We (I) had a baby.

So, why did we move away in the first place? Well, as Andrew puts it, his elementary school, high school, and university were all a 30 minute bike ride away from each other--he needed to expand his radius. Being from a small town, I had to leave home to attend university, but I too felt I needed to get away, and experience a different part of the world. Grant you, it's not like we dropped everything to go work in a remote village in Africa, we moved to Edmonton, but we did step outside the comfort zone of friends, family, and familiarity.

I can't say my perspective on life has changed drastically. I don't think I've had any epiphany moments, but I've had many wonderful moments. Recently, Andrew and I have found memories of Edmonton cropping up, friends, Firefly (the aerials studio), restaurants (Elm cafe, Blue Plate dinner, Dutchess bakery), etc, and I'm sure once we leave Somerville something similar will happen for here.

If I remember correctly, when we left Ontario I said something to the effect of: moving away for a little bit would only make the return sweeter, that it would make settling in KW more rewarding because we had lived elsewhere for a while first.

I still think that's a true statement, and I'll talk about some of our trepidations of moving home in my next blog post.