It was almost the end of 2010 in Edmonton (Canada) and as the colour of the leaves on trees changed from a cheerful green to a rich copper and then a deep bronze, I handed in my two weeks notice at my workplace and then packed my bags and put away things I could not put in my suitcase in large plastic bags and gave them away at the local second hand shop and what I could not give away, I put in black garbage bags and threw away. All the while being clawed incessantly by an intimidating feeling of hollowness, followed by a sense of fear so deep and so unrelenting it knotted itself into a little lump in my throat, making my eyes brim over unexpectedly; whether I was on the bus to work, or while I was staring into the distance from my kitchen window as I washed the dishes.
And as the first few flakes of early snow fell carpeting the city in a sheet of white, I was ready to leave, to go home and say good bye to a city that I had just begun to call home.
It wasn’t easy really, to just pack up and go, turn my back on a city that had taken me into her arms, roughed me up a good deal and made a woman out of me. A city that taught me what it was to walk for fifteen minutes in the biting cold, while the falling snow stung my eyes; and my nose red and frozen from the cold kept running. A city that taught me that it was wiser to shop at Costco than at Sobey’s and that all non-biodegradable garbage went in large blue bags, not the black ones. Or the fact that if I didn’t do laundry on my day off, no one else would and the laundry bag in the corner would begin to overflow. I also learned that drinking French Vanilla at Tim Hortons would make my lips sticky and I chose to drink a large Double Double instead.
Edmonton also taught me that the
unkempt and unshaven homeless man outside the neighbourhood convenience store,
who always carried his cat with him in his bag and who always waved at me
cheerfully revealing crooked and yellow teeth, was harmless and had quite a
witty sense of humour. The city gave me friends who may not have spoken the
best English and whose accent I had trouble understanding, but we laughed at
each others jokes nonetheless!
And so I learned that I had to look to my right and not left while I crossed the road, and that innocent looking dark patch on the street in winter was black ice, slipping on which could be really nasty and that snow shovelling in the winter could be back breaking business and more than anything else Edmonton taught me that “home” was only an illusion and home would be anywhere I choose to hang my hat!