7 Months: Reflections.

If I could have a photo of one moment over the past year, it would have been a photo of me, coming through the gates with all my luggage when I first moved to the Rock. I was (literally) the very last person to go through them, thanks to the household worth of stuff travelling with me, and I hadn't seen Kurt in a week, so that moment when I walked through the doors and saw him standing there on the other side, in our new home country, was a big one.

May 30th marked 7 months since that day, which is pretty unbelievable to me. It doesn't feel like we've been gone that long, but then when I think of everything that has happened during that time, I realize that it's been a pretty packed 7 months. Maybe that's why it felt so quick.

When I got off that plane, I really had very little idea of what I was in for. I was lucky enough to have had Kurt's parents brief me on life here, but it took months before I felt like I'd figured this place out. Actually...that's a lie...there's still a lot I haven't figured out and plenty more I'm probably not supposed to figure out. It is nothing if not a strange little place.

Now that June has arrived, I realize just how quickly time has passed. Originally, I had requested a one year work permit, which would have meant that we would have been already setting ourselves up to go home. The plus would have been that I would be spending Christmas at HOME in Victoria, for the first time in 6 years, but honestly, I'm so glad that they wouldn't sponsor a one year permit and put me on two instead, because one year would simply not have been enough time.

Our original goal was to save money. With a goal to purchase real estate in the hottest market in the country, we weren't getting anywhere in Ottawa. Every penny was going into the house, the car, and God knows what else but it didn't leave much behind. I was stressed about money all the time, realizing how far short of our goals we were falling.

Once we'd established that it would/could be a good move financially, we really started to think about other ways in which our lives would change. Geography was obvious, but what about friends, family, etc.? I'd done a big move already, but Kurt never had. We've actually never been anywhere on our own, without family around (sad, sad, sad), so we really didn't know what it would mean for us, both individually and as a couple. Would we be lonely? What if we weren't enough company for each other?

And finally, perhaps the most important consideration of all for this time in our lives, what would this move mean for our careers? We wanted to make the most of it in every way, adding value to our resumes (it really pisses me off that this keyboard doesn't speak French, and I can't add accents) so that, when we returned, we'd at least take some sort of step upward from what we were both doing before. I had a job when we arrived...Kurt didn't. While we were positive that he would find something, whether or not it would be what he was hoping was another question. In short, it was a half-blind decision.

So...how have we done?

Financially...jury is still out, but only because of airfare. For whatever reason, when we were figuring out how much we potentially could save, we completely neglected to factor airline tickets into our calculations, or furniture, for that matter. So, now that we're set up and our jet-setting year is almost over (our summer trip will likely be our last for 2008, unless we can score some sort of sweet fall weekend deal to Boston or something), we can finally start chipping away at that first goal. I'm so excited for that day, by the way. And I'm hoping for either the USD to surge or the CAD to tank, but that's neither here nor there.

As far as our questions about how the move might change our relationship or what it would mean for us individually, I'm pretty sure that leaving Ottawa turned out to be the best decision we could have made for ourselves at the time. Not that we were struggling, but we were definitely in a rut and living a life that we weren't suited for at the time. Both of us were constantly talking about changes, moves, trips, etc....it was pretty obvious that some sort of ball had to drop. 7 months on the Rock has done wonders for both of us. We're healthier, we're happier, and we're a better couple because of this. The stresses are gone, left thousands of kilometres behind, and there's much more of a sense of togetherness because of where and how we now live. It's nice. It might not work for everyone, but it's working for us.

As far as our careers go, the jury remains out on that one as well, at least in my case. While Kurt has landed himself in, perhaps, the best place possible, I have hit a stalemate. It turned out to be not even a lateral move, but a huge step backwards from what I was doing in Ottawa. I adore my boss, and the Firm is fine, but the responsibilities are missing and so my motivation is dwindling fast. Kurt, on the other hand, is very happy where he is. After watching him spend 14 years in one job, there were people who just could not picture Kurt doing anything else or being anything more than what he was doing in Ottawa. I was really disappointed by this, but have come to realize that sometimes, some people are simply incapable of being happy for anyone else, and just made sure that the supportive people were louder than the unsupportive ones when we were considering this move. As it turns out, we were right and he has ended up in a position that would have required years of training (or a university degree) in Canada and, most importantly, in a job that he is interested in and in which he can see a future for himself. A bright one. That alone, for me, was worth the move. Despite my own job woes, watching Kurt have this experience has been amazing. He is like a different person. A much happier one. It's so great.

In short, we're happy and doing well. People ask all the time how things are going out here, and really...things are going better than planned. We have a huge list of things that we miss, variety and options being at the top of it, along with friends and family, but the things we have gained from this experience far outweigh missing Farm Boy and Second Cup. We really do live for each trip off the Rock, but life in between the trips is pretty decent. We've had visitors (and more to come) and have some pretty big things to look forward to in the coming months.

I don't think everyone would love this life, as amazing as it sounds to live on a semi-tropical island. I don't know if I would be gearing up for Year #2 if I'd come alone, and I'm not sure I would have lasted this long here without those trips to dry land. It's not perfect...but no place is...but we're making the very best of it and what it has to offer us.

OK, my reflective mood has passed.


Anonymous said...

Good reflections! But I am bummed to hear you won't be in Canada for Christmas. I too haven't been back for Christmas since 2002 and if we make it this year (something ALWAYS prevents me actually getting there) we were going to have our wedding party! Ach well. It'll probably be 2009 anyway!

x rachel

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