It’s been nearly two months since I first landed in Halifax after an insanely chaotic summer, and over three months since I lost my job. Why Halifax? I came here because I have good, dependable, reliable, amazing friends in this city. I came here because I really needed a break, and to figure out what to do with my life. Straighten up a little, figure shit out.
None of that really happened at all.
So what did I do? I made some new friends, had a million and one new experiences. Tried a dozen new flavours of beer and saw more of Nova Scotia than some of my Nova Scotian friends. I applied for a handful of excellent jobs, and started a business plan. I networked and spent more money than I have. I damaged friendships and got rejected. I find myself here tonight with at least 100 different emotions and none of them positive, because ultimately, I still don’t know what I want.
I realize I was only a province over, still in the east coast of Canada, but I find myself in a sort of daze being home and no longer living out of a suitcase. I keep thinking things are missing, and I keep wandering to the kitchen sink to wash my hands with the imaginary hand soap. I swept the contents off my dresser and desk today, throwing out old make-up brushes and lip glosses and broken necklaces I never got around to fixing. I filled two garbage bags, and I haven’t tackled my closet yet. Everything feels like a waste. I’m cranky and irrational and I feel extremely guilty about it.
I’ve missed my friends like crazy. The longer I’ve been away from them, the more I realize how amazing they are. There’s a “welcome home” party planned for me, and I’ve been smothered with my favourite foods like delicious banana bread, and chip dip. We’ve all kept in touch so much since I’ve been gone it feels like I never left. I love them and my family more than anything in the world, even if my family does not approve of me potentially moving.
Then there’s St. John’s. After being in Halifax, even just one province over, St. John’s felt surreal. I told people about my city and my heart ached for it. After some time, I realized how incredibly isolated I am in Newfoundland. This is the longest I’ve ever been away from home.
There’s nothing wrong with the isolation, it’s what shapes my province and makes it unique. I would never want it to change; I still think St. John’s is one of the greatest cities you could ever live in. But Halifax, still a considerably small city with about 400,000 people, has a feel that St. John’s does not – a metropolitan vibe – and I found myself loving it. I feel like possibilities there are endless. I feel inspired by the flow of people, the variety of restaurants and bars, and the potential to grow. I feel like it’s the kind of place where I can screw up and still get another chance, but still have great friends around.
As a Newfoundlander, I’m tied to my province with the same fierce pride as everyone else. I take every opportunity to boast about my island, spreading tourism paraphernalia wherever I go. I get incredibly excited when I see a bumper sticker with my province’s flag, or a complete flag hanging in someone’s garden. On my return flight to Newfoundland, I realized I was reading a book about Joey Smallwood with a Newfoundland tourism bookmark tucked between the pages. It’s just the way I was raised, to hold onto strong bonds, friendships and relationships with all the strength I can muster. And this is why I make a shitty traveller, because when I have to return, slackening those bonds damn well kills me.
Yet here I am, contemplating a move. Not just Halifax, just somewhere different. 24 years in one spot, and maybe it’s time to try something new. I’m still waiting to hear back about employment, which may determine everything. Maybe a week from now I’ll be settled comfortably back at home in my little townhouse downtown, where I’ve spent two incredibly happy years having the most fun of my life. But maybe I won’t.
And maybe that’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this trip – it’s okay to leave. I’ll be just fine somewhere new.