You know you have moved to Northern Canada when all of your friends and family gift you with winter gear for the holidays. Apparently I have been doing a lot of complaining. With the thick new boots from my PH, an adorable purple hat from a close friend, and a super-long hooded coat from my parents, I no longer have any justification for losing digits. My sister even crocheted me a fuzzy scarf with her own two hands. If I feel the cold at all now it is my own fault.
Six months in, I am starting to get used to my new surroundings. The city doesn’t feel like home yet. That will take a few more winters and no doubt another few moves. Probably more drinking. We still haven’t found a favourite pub, after all. It isn’t the same as our old place and there are still many things that irritate me. I dislike how many people feel free to walk their dogs off-leash in the ravine. The glaring streetlights beaming in our bedroom window are a constant source of sleeplessness. The noise of traffic, the fact that it is dark by four o’clock in the afternoon, and the ever-present dryness are all sources of annoyance. My skin is never going to recover, I know it. Still, I am adjusting. The benefits are beginning to outweigh the minuses.
As much as I will always adore Halifax, the rain was a huge downer. True, a part of me misses splashing in puddles. It is nice to not have to style my hair every day so that it fits under a hood. I won’t ever miss the constant dampness of everything – even if it made my skin happier. There were other, larger downsides to life in the Maritimes. Being so far from family and friends was a big one. When one’s house is a good five-day drive from relatives, one doesn’t end up seeing people she cares about the most all that often unless they are willing for fork out the cash for a plane ticket. I enjoyed our quiet life and our simple holidays, but I have to say it was a fun change this year to get to see family. It made them more special. Not to mention the brilliant training opportunities this lends to our dog.
Shiva has never spent so much time in other people’s homes in her life until we moved here. In fact, until this summer, she had never been in someone else’s house. Ever. We had no idea how she was going to handle a new environment already inhabited by a new dog. In traditional Shiva style, she blew me away. Yes, there have been moments of concern and anxiety. There are always going to be with this mutt of ours. After visiting her cousin in Calgary and then staying over night twice at my practically in-laws, she is learning how to adapt to strange places and different rules without losing her shit. I think the changes have been good for her.
Not to mention, before we moved here we never, ever invited friends over to our house. It just didn’t happen and not entirely because we are hermits. Shiva’s territorial nature makes it awkward. When it’s family, we just deal and they all seem to understand when Shiva goes from soliciting pets to barking in their faces. Even if they don’t get it, their love for us forces them to put up with it. When it is friends, and friends who many never have lived with a fearful dog before, it is another matter. It just didn’t seem worth it. However, last night, for the very first time, we invited two human guests over for a late gift exchange. Two! Non-dog-owning! Friends! Was Shiva insane? Yes. Did she bark in their faces? Yes. Did anybody get hurt, threaten to sue, or storm away offended? No. Shockingly, no. After four hours the night ended with everyone still smiling and no one needing to visit the emergency room.
It is often so easy for us to go through life doing the same things over and over again. Routines are natural. When I stop exploring or bothering to attend local events that used to thrill, I know I am in trouble. I have always thrived on change and I don’t think I am the kind of person who can stay in one place for too long. After five years on the East Coast, it was probably time for a re-location, regardless of the reason. Moving to Edmonton has forced me out of my bubble and given me new territory to explore. We now have a whole city full of new parks, theatres, restaurants, museums, and festivals. Moving ended the stagnation, rid me of excuses, and has pushed my dog’s boundaries. I still miss my friends and I definitely miss my former job. Somehow, I am getting accustomed to that. Edmonton, as frozen and as flat as it is, isn’t as bad as I expected. Maybe, just maybe I will be able to call it home one day. And if not, we can always move somewhere else.