The Eve of Leaving

It’s been rough since the movers came.

Between the stress of being displaced from our home, and trying to run errands almost every day, it’s made for some interesting sleeps. I’ve had more nightmares in the past week than I can remember ever having consecutively.

Our weirdly clean and empty apartment, post-movers.

I’ve become very good at pushing my emotions down until I am alone. I didn’t cry on the last day of work, despite a lovely and sweet send-off from my bosses and coworkers. I didn’t cry at the last get together with some childhood friends. I didn’t cry at my last lunch with my brother. I didn’t cry when I saw my bestie for the last time this afternoon.

But yesterday, driving back to my sister-in-law’s place (where we’ve been staying during our last week+ of limbo), I broke down and bawled. Full on, driving through the freezing cold, sobbing my guts out. Yesterday was my last day at my job, working for an amazing company. I haven’t been unemployed since I was sixteen, and the constant inquiries as to what work I have or haven’t lined up yet suddenly felt like an oppressive weight on my chest.

I’m leaving my home. As a child traveling to see family in northwestern Ontario, I always thought Alberta was boring. Flat. Plain and uninspired. Ontario was always exciting with its fir trees, and sheer rock cliffs, and lakes and rivers. It was all similar enough to feel familiar (especially after going there almost yearly for a good portion of my life), but different enough to be enchanting.

Nova Scotia was the same way. It stole my heart as soon as I saw it. Trees, rocks, rivers, but now also the ocean. I’d never been in an ocean before Nova Scotia. I’d never seen the Atlantic before Nova Scotia. I immediately pictured Mo and I getting married there (even though we eventually eloped in Edmonton), and it wasn’t long before that dream morphed into living there.

But it was just a notion; a vague and nebulous someday. Even after we impulse-bought a house there this past summer, the idea of moving to, and living in, Nova Scotia still seemed so far off.

And for every new beginning, there must also be an ending.

I am a prairie girl; Alberta runs through my veins. I can smell Alberta’s autumn coming before the first leaves turn. I can walk through a meadow and identify almost every plant. I am comfortable around horses since they have been a permanent fixture in the background of my life thanks to a variety of friends. I find magpies both charming and annoying. I appreciate our (dry) cold winters. I cheer for the Oilers even though I don’t really understand hockey, and – at one point in my life, like many Albertans – I relied directly on the oilsands for my paycheque.

I will miss this place. It contains not only many friends and some family, but it is also where two of my childhood homes remain. It’s where I graduated high school. It is the place of my very first apartment. It is where I met and got married to my wife. A huge portion of my memories have been made on Albertan soil. I will no longer be able to visit these places on a whim anymore, and there are too many to visit on every trip back.

Needless to say, the emotional roller coaster is not unexpected. While Mo has done more than one cross-country move, I have routinely stayed within a half hour’s drive of my previous home, with the total traveling distance between my first childhood home and our latest apartment being a whole 40 minutes. It’s scary.

So back to the crying in the car. I got to my sister-in-law’s, and texted my wife, saying that I just needed to sit in the car and cry for a while. She came out and sat with me, and we both cried a bit and felt better. (Hot tip: don’t go bawling a bunch in your car before turning it off for the night in -30 weather, you’ll ice up the insides of your windows.)

We’re leaving tomorrow, the coldest day this week in Edmonton, and I’m worried about the car not starting. I’m worried about crying too hard to see while driving. I’m worried about the highways across the freezing cold prairies. I’m worried about the houseplants we’re taking with us. I’m worried about things we may forget. I’m worried about moose.

But I’m also excited to see a selection of my family during a brief stopover in northwestern Ontario, including my really excited parents (they don’t hide it very well). I know we’ll see people we are leaving behind in Alberta within the next year. There will be lots of family around when we arrive in Nova Scotia, as well, to help ease the burden of sorrow we’ll be carrying.

I know we’ll be overwhelmed with joy and love when we see our tiny, beautiful little house, nestled in the woods of Nova Scotia’s eastern shore. And there will always be room in my heart for Alberta.


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