Just over a year ago, we did something crazy. We sold everything we owned, took 2 suitcases each and flew across the world with 3 children and some awkward carry-on to try out living in the Canadian Prairies.
My husband grew up here and considers it home. I visited Toronto once 16 years ago. It was ok.
This year has been incredible. I have been stretched and challenged in so many ways – none of the ones I expected. We have learned to live with less, in smaller spaces, and the richness of an old fashioned, friendly neighbourhood.
There have been tears, laughter, doubt, and guilt. But overwhelmingly, we’ve realised that if you don’t try, you’ll never know. This experience has made me braver. It’s allowed me to take risks, and know that the worst thing that can happen is nothing ever happening.
The pace of life has changed. I don’t have a work visa, so suddenly I am a 100% stay-at-home mum. I sold my piano before we left. I’ve been reading a lot, we’ve been outside a lot, and I’ve shovelled snow a lot.
We’ve learned that people aren’t kidding when they say you can’t be outside for more than 20 minutes in -30. My poor 9 year old had frost nip on her face so the rest of us could learn a lesson! Substance over style is the order of the day to even attempt going outside. Ice forms in my nostrils bringing in groceries from the car.
But I love it. I love the brutality of this climate. I love how nature forces you to take it seriously. How tiny I felt driving up to mountain ranges that seem like they must be getting close now, but just keep getting bigger and bigger. I love the enthusiastic, engaging strangers who welcomed us so well and became friends in record time.
I want to call this place my home, I’ve caught myself doing just that. But every now and then, I’m reminded that I don’t really know so many basic things here. It’s disorienting and humbling to have to pause because I can’t quickly recognise a coin, or know the suburbs of the city. It keeps me alert during the most mundane activities, and even though it can be wearing, I think I prefer this state of slight self-doubt. I’m more open to what things might be. Not assuming I know what they are.
And for only the 3rd time in my life, I will wake up on Christmas morning to snow on the ground.