I’m going to miss these days. They’ve been days of confusion, stress, and uncertainty. They’ve also been days of happiness, hope, and self discovery. In the past month and a half I have left a job, looking for a new one, started a new one, moved cities, travelled extensively across the province, and went home for Christmas and New Year’s. What a trip it’s been. And while it’s still not over, the pace has slackened.
My mother says that I have courage. My sister and my friends agree. I’ve never thought of myself as particularly courageous. I just live a life that is search for balance. Balance in home and work, infused with a faith that never ceases to change and grow. Stagnation is not an option. So if I wind up with a bad job, then I will leave. If I wind up with crazy roommates, I will move. Does that make me strong or courageous? Maybe. Maybe the fact that I left a good paying job to go to school and then take a job that doesn’t pay well, but that I believe I could love. Maybe all of that takes a little courage. But where would this courage be if I didn’t have family and friends backing me up and rooting me on?
Nowhere. That’s where I would be. Without those that love me encouraging me and pushing me forward, who knows what life I would have lead? Maybe I’d have followed a traditional path—gone to school in my home town and become a teacher. Not that it isn’t an amiable and respectable career, but is it one I would enjoy? I wouldn’t have travelled out East to go to school –twice. I wouldn’t have spent a semester at Oxford. I wouldn’t have had the courage to quit my desk job to go to culinary school. I wouldn’t have been able to find it within myself to move on when I needed to.
This past month has been so wonderful not because of the stress and the adventure of it, but because of the people I met along the way—strangers I will never see again, the family and friends who have never forgotten me.
Driving back to Edmonton after Christmas, I had to keep the tears from welling up in my eyes. As I drove past wheat fields dredged in snow, sparkling in the sunlight, with grey-blue mountains as a backdrop to the west, I had to keep my eyes from tearing up. I was leaving my home, my prairie home, for the big city once more. I thought of all the laughter and happiness that comes to my family at Christmas. The three daughters, spontaneously bursting into songs, be they Christmas Carol’s or from Disney’s The Lion King. Then there is the Christmas light tour, followed up with Pizza at Top’s. I love doing the yearly puzzle with my mother, hundreds of small cardboard pieces, waiting to be turned into a picture children playing out in the snow. High up on the list are also going out to movies with my father, and helping him with work in the garage. He can have amazing patience with me. And I adore all of the Christmas church services—my favourite falling on Christmas Eve—the candlelight service at my parents’ church.
And then there are all those old familiar faces, the people you only see once a year, but they still care for you, give you hugs, and want to know what you’ve been up to. And my grandparents, who love me so much that leaving them again for another season is hard. The older they get, the more aware I am that I don’t get to keep them around forever, and sometimes that makes me wonder why I don’t live closer to home. I love remembering going to their home for tea. My grandmother makes the tea so strong that once cup is really all you can handle. Granted, my British friends say that I like the teabag waved over a cup of hot water. And my grandmother always has treats on the coffee table, waiting upon our arrival. It’s usually a conglomeration of home baking and store bought she got at one place or another.
But all those people simply cover Christmas. There has been more to this past month than Christmas. Moving back to the big city and travelling around the province have meant that I’ve been able to see friends who I have largely lost contact with – a roommate from college, a childhood friend who now lives in Ponoka, a kindred spirit in Old Strathcona, and a friend from my old church who is still kicking around town while finishing her education, one who believes in the power of love and was out visiting her daughters in Calgary. Dinner at a pub, catching up while catching a ride down to my parents place, checking out a hole in the wall Vietnamese restaurant (sketch, but affordable and decent food), ice skating at the Legislature grounds, Christmas light tours, late night talks, chat over a cup of coffee or a beer, playing board games, shopping for Christmas gifts. All of these people have made the past month special for me in some way.
And so while the stress and business of the past month and a half have been relatively stressful, I also find myself with much to be thankful for. Now, as I settle in to my tiny new apartment, and get used to my new job as a cook, I look forward to new reasons to be thankful. 2013 is going to be a great year. I can feel it.