For most of my nearly 42 years, I have called Halifax home. I had lived long enough in Ottawa and Toronto to have collected postal mail, and spent time living out of a suitcase on extended work stays in St. John’s and Philadelphia. But on each of those occassions I knew I was coming back to Halifax at some point in the not too distant future. That’s not the case for this one. My wife and I are packing up our home and with exciting opportunities and adventures ahead, I will be saying goodbye to Halifax and hello to somewhere I never would have dreamed I’d be heading – Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
And yes, I am fully aware of how cold it gets there in the winter.
When an opportunity presented itself to continue my career at the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, my first stop was to read Saskatoon’s Wikipedia page to start some rapid research. All I knew of Saskatchewan was its stereotypes – lots of wheat, Corner Gas jokes, “the easiest province to draw”, Roughriders!, and the cold. Even as I embark on this adventure, I don’t really know that much about my new home. I’ve spent a scant five days in Saskatoon. It made a very favourable first impression, but there’s lots to learn and experience and that’s part of what has me excited about this move.
The decision wasn’t easy. I’m pretty attached to Halifax. Mom and Dad live about a 25 minute drive away. My wife’s brother, his wife and their two awesome kids live even closer. Walks along the harbour with the salt air and the sound of foghorns have always been to me what a walk in the snow was for the first Trudeau. And between the Carleton (music), Stillwell (beer), Bishop’s Cellar (wine), Tom’s or Bearly’s (requisite dive bars where I use “dive” in only it’s most flattering connotations), Pete’s (fancy-pants grocery story) and the new Central Library, everything I need is within walking distance in a neighbourhood I love passionately. I love Halifax, but I am ready to throw myself into my new hometown without hesitation.
A part of the impetus for this move is the adventure of living somewhere new with the woman I love. This is going to be a major life adventure and I’m looking forward to being able to experience being a Canadian in a different part of this vast, beautiful, amazing country of ours.
A friend of mine told me that I’d always remember the point in time that I made up my mind to move away. I’m not sure if that’s true for me, but I know when I realized the decision had been made and there was no turning back. It was a Sunday a bit more than a month ago, 4:30am in the morning, and my wife and I were getting out of a cab at the airport in Saskatoon to head back to Halifax having spent three days meeting people and feeling out our possible new home town. As I got out of the cab, a Joel Plaskett song was playing over the airport speakers at the drop off point. It was the track, “On a Dime”, a great rollicking song. I love that song and hear it as the internal struggle between the pull of history and pushing forward toward an unknown future. As I got my bag and started to walk into the terminal, the song was in the chorus:
Oh the good times we had / I remember them, lads
We could take any turn on a dime
Quit reminding me, girl / It’s a ragged old world
Cause I don’t want to leave it behind / No, I don’t want to leave it behind
It is true. I don’t want to leave it behind. But I have to. The wanderer and explorer in me will always need to seek new experiences and challenges. So with that song in my ears, and tears forming in my eyes, I headed into the terminal, onward toward the gate, to fly home to Halifax for the last time. My mind was made up. A new job. A new hometown. Life heading in a new direction.
So, hello Saskatoon. Can’t wait to get better acquainted with you in April.