Can you ever go back? Revisiting Halifax

When I was laid off in 2010, I immediately sought refuge in Nova Scotia. Why not? I could be unemployed in St. John’s, or I could be unemployed in Halifax.

I went on bit of a life binge, a free-for-all for six weeks. Tossed money around with disregard to the consequences, and partied every night of the week.

I had a freaking blast.

I applied for jobs in the city, willing to give up St. John’s for a new home. Wanted a different lifestyle, a change of scenery. After too much rejection, I sulked my way back to St. John’s and resumed my normal life.

But man, I loved that city. I went back for 10 days last May. And just a few months ago, I went back for a third time, for a whole month to see Cailin before she went off to Australia and to spend time with my best friend Joanne and her new baby.

Suddenly I didn’t fit into Halifax anymore. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Did I outgrow the city? Were its quirks and charms worn off on me? I was horrified by how much money it cost to have a good night out.

Time for a lifestyle change?

Many of my friends were also no longer around, having moved on to bigger futures. The remaining group of friends I DID have in the city, of course, were amazing. Chauffeured me around and fed me and took good care of me. But as all 20-somethings do, the majority of us had grown up. Sorta.

After Cailin left, I happily spent most of my time at Joanne’s house outside the city. We went for walks in the evenings, and I fell in love with Baby Frances. We spent a night at their cabin in Mahone Bay, cut off from the world but completely happy. No toilets. No cell phone reception. No problems.

True love

One afternoon, I met up with Yelp community manager Ben Boudreau who took me to The Smiling Goat, an organic espresso bar where the server whipped me up his signature drink. We moved on to Indochine, where I had my first Korean taco. I spent hours working at Paper Chase Cafe & Newsstand, a coffee shop where I stood out among gothic garb, spiky hairdos and tattooed faces. The girl next to me was studying Nietzsche. I admired her handwriting in her sketchbook.

I walked home with the sunshine beating on my face and felt something like a city slicker in a small city. I was happy. Proud of myself, for something.

Had the city changed, or had I?

I suppose that’s always the risk for travellers, right? What if you find that happy spot, that one place in the world where you just GET it? You vow to return years later. When you do, it’s not the same place.

Let’s see how Montreal stacks up.

  • May 17 2012

    A wonderful story, Candice. Really wonderful. Thanks for sharing that experience with us. Doug at the Authentic Seacoast

  • May 17 2012

    I’ve lived in a lot of places over the years – Halifax and Halls Harbour in Nova Scotia included – but I never, ever feel like I can go back. To visit yes. To live no. It is a weird feeling and I can relate to what you’re saying.

  • May 17 2012

    I have an option to go back to Melbourne–a company willing to sponsor me–but your experience is exactly what worries me. I had such a brilliant experience the first time around that I’m worried about it not being able to live up if I go back–people have moved, things have changed. I *think* I love the city enough, but what if it’s changed or if I changed? Lovely post, although I can’t wait to hear more about your time in Montreal!

  • May 17 2012

    That last photo is gorgeous and so are you with baby Frances! =) Sometimes I think that places are not the same when we go back to them. We change and grow. Time is sometimes more important than space and it sounds like Halifax was perfect for you when you needed it to be.

  • May 18 2012

    Possibly both you and Halifax have changed? You still love it, though, don’t you? I’m thinking about trying to find a housesit somewhere in Nova Scotia this fall. Maybe Halifax will be it :)

  • May 18 2012

    I think about this all the time, and I’m beginning to believe that you can’t really go back. Or, at least you can’t go back with the expectations that everything will be the same. Thank goodness the world is big enough that we can just keep moving forward!

  • May 20 2012

    I feel that way about London. I know it probably won’t feel the same when I go back, but I hope I’m still enchanted in some way.

    I’ve been thinking about moving to Halifax. I looove the east coast and I have no real reason to stay where I am. But getting a job is the trick. Haha.

  • May 20 2012

    I agree, a very wonderful story indeed. Life is always changing as well as places and people. I guess we just have to be adaptable to that and see where life takes us :)

    Cathy Trails

  • May 20 2012

    Maybe someday you’ll go back to Halifax and find that you’ve both changed enough to fall in love with each other again.

  • May 21 2012

    LOVE that chair photo, Candice!

  • May 22 2012

    I adore Montreal, can’t wait to see what you do there.

    • June 05 2012

      I’ve been getting up to no good, that’s what!

  • May 23 2012

    People always say they’ll go back when they travel, you’re right though they often shouldn’t at least not as quickly as you have anyway. But not as quickly, I mean come back when your age starts with a 6, when you’ll accept it (or you) may have changed and you can appreciate it for what it is again. I’ve always wanted to go back to Rome (first place I travelled too alone) and Thailand (the place where I let myself go and started to enjoy myself) but I know both won’t be the same at all, because I’m a different person.

    Same as having a hero as a kid, if you ever meet that hero, it could possibly destroy your childhood (or adulthood?) fun/dreams when the magic goes and that hero is just a normal thing. Whether it’s a person, a object, or like you have – a place.

    A lot is down to age here too. I think teens and early 20s are the most influential periods of their lives on what they like too (how many people discover a new music genre they like in their 40s?).

    • June 05 2012

      Adventure Rob! Holy moly it’s good to hear from you! It’s been ages.

      Yeah, sometimes I think “going back” is a mistake. Those memories are perfect, why ruin them?

  • May 23 2012

    Oh dude, I get ya.

    I went to Perth (Western Australia, there’s apparently all kinds of Perths) two years ago and christened it Paradise City. The people were amazing and friendly and interesting and lovely and the men were handsome and the women were adorable and I made the most awesome experiences and bawled for six hours and almost missed my flight on purpose. Yeah, THAT much love.

    I’m royally terrified to go there again.

    • June 05 2012

      Hahahaha. Don’t go back! Preserve it in awesome memory forever!

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