I grew up in St. John’s NL, a fairly small city.
As a kid, I enjoyed a pretty good freedom in life. Eat breakfast, leave for the day, come back for supper maybe.
We built some pretty sweet cabins in the woods (had a few hauled out by the fire department for working wood stoves), we drove our bikes and quads and skidoos as far as the paths (and quiet roads) would take us, we played hockey in the middle of the road (stupid drainage bump was the out of bounds marker) and got into some wholesome trouble (like raiding vegetable gardens).
As I got older, the size of the city didn’t really bug me. I knew there was “more” out there from visits to Halifax and Toronto, but I felt comfortable. The local restaurants were good for a night out, and the downtown scene, while never a big part for me, was great. When my 2 best friends up and decided to move to Calgary, I can remember looking it up on Google because I had no idea what Calgary was all about. I looked at it on Google maps and saw A LOT of brown. I can recall asking them if Calgary had any hills, because from over head it looked like buildings in the middle of a wheat field.
What the shit is this?
I know now that Google must’ve scanned the city the day after all the snow melted because there’s a ton of green space here, but at the time I wondered just what the hell they were doing. But they seemed to thing it was the best.
“So much to do!”
“Best place ever!”
But as hard as it was to have my best friends gone, the thing that ultimately drew me to Calgary was the same thing that caused a lot of Newfoundlanders to leave at the time.
The job market in St. John’s was pitiful, and I was tired of managing a staff of 20-25 and making barely enough to get by. So I decided to up and leave one day. Just on a whim. Had a shitty day at work and bought a plane ticket.
And once I got here, I was blown away by this city and what it had to offer.
Camping, mountains, cool theaters, relaxing parks.
Sun without wind.
The peace and quiet of Newfoundland was suddenly forgotten, and replaced with concerts and hockey and “OMG! Is that a real hooker??”.
And for a few years, that was enough. I met my wife, bought a house, had some kids.
We enjoyed how busy it was all the time. A mini “city that never sleeps”. Well, more a city that parties hard until about 7pm and then rolls up the sidewalks but that’s a different story all together. There was amazing food and flashy billboards and free lunches. Stampede and after work events and and and…
And then it happened.
For the first time in my life, I started to actually think about my life.
For the first time in my life I thought, “There’s more to it than this?”