A Day in the Life: A Californian in Calgary
- Go to university.
- While not looking for a boyfriend, meet a guy.
- Be friends together; rock climb, hike, trail run, hang out, decide to date.
- Get married!
- Realize along the way that one of us is Canadian and the other American and that it’s easier to immigrate north (especially when you are young, volunteering, and each have no income). Plus, there’s the health care (again, we have no money). ;)
It’s been almost 5 years since I drove a van full of our possessions across the border of Montana and Alberta at 11 pm and immigrated to Canada. Although Mikey and I always knew we would likely settle north of the border, we didn’t think it would happen so fast, but his caner diagnosis five months after our marriage cut our time in Washington state short and north we went. To be honest, I always had a feeling that I would move away from home and have essentially been away since I graduated high school, spending summers working outside at different camps and choosing to go to university in British Columbia.
But the process of moving *really* away from family and living in another country (albeit still North America) has been a wonderful, hard, and interesting process. So here’s “A Day in the Life: A Californian in Calgary.”
[Miss my first installment? Catch up on "A Day in the Life: A Wife" here!]
- You know what’s tough? Being away from family. This is probably the hardest part for me, but it’s more on my mind after a recent family vacation and due to the fact that as I age, family becomes more and more important to me. It was more of an adventure to be away at first, and we were going through such a crazy time adjusting to chemo treatments and hospital visits for Mikey that we just jumped into life and rode it out. There wasn’t much time to process the move and change but things didn’t feel too different because I had been to school in Canada too. But it’s hard to be away from the goings-on with extended family members and just missing the day-to-day events with my mom, and dad (and perhaps even the crazy antics of my brother too).
- However, there is a pro to this. I’ve loved getting to know Mikey’s family and taking part in their family traditions and daily events too. We’ve lived with Mikey’s parents 3 times (this currently being the third time) and I don’t think I ever anticipated being so close to them. But the events we’ve gone through together have made us vulnerable, honest, and real with one another and we are so grateful for their generosity and hospitality. Plus, being away from my family makes me appreciate them more! I really do think absence makes the heart grow fonder. And I can’t WAIT until September when my cousin Becky (who was like my sister growing up) gets married to her Spanish man, Gerar.
- It’s tough to stay close with people over long distances as my life changes and their lives do too. There really are only a few people in California who I stay in contact with as we’ve drifted apart some. In some ways this makes me sad but at the same time I do think there are different seasons for friends and sometimes it’s okay to let life and friendships happen. I’m a terrible phone person (literally the ONLY person I phone is my mom!) and I know I need to make more of an effort to connect with people who are not only in California but in Washington, B.C., other provinces in Canada, and around the globe (I am blessed with amazing friends all over!).
On the other hand, moving here has forced Mikey and I to get out of our comfort zones and get to know others. It’s been so neat to watch our community grow and the people we’re involved with become such loyal, kind, loving friends. Our “Fat Tuesday” group is our once-a-week time of connection and those are the people we know are always there for us in prayer, for felt needs we have, and for cheering us up. ALL of our friends, both in Calgary and abroad, have proven to be huge supports to us; we truly are blessed.
- Alright, this is not as deep or as important, but I MISS Target, Trader Joe’s and good (cheap) department stores! Everything from wine to cereal to clothes is more expensive in Canada; when I go home I marvel at the price differences, even being from California (more expensive than other places)! So if you have access to these fine establishments, appreciate them.
- Not much of a “pro” to this one, except for the fact that there are some iconic Canadian things that are fun to experience, though perhaps less in the way of stores and more in the way of foods. Think: beavertails, poutine, etc! YUM.
- I certainly miss the California coast. There’s something about the vibe of the west coast that I love and miss and will always feel nostalgic about! The smell of sea air, the Golden Gate Bridge, the access to hiking, to desert explorations, to lakes and mountains – it really is a unique place to be and will always be a big part of who I am!
- …but then there is something about the Rockies. MAN they are stunning! If you’ve seen the Colorado Rockies, they’re about as big but much steeper and sharper and less round. Your head is out the window if you’re driving through them on Highway 1 and you’ll want to get to the top of them if you’re hiking in them. If you haven’t visited, you’ve got to come – we’ve got a place for you, food to eat, and are good tour guides.
This just scratches the surface of some of the differences, but I will say this: only people count. What I miss the most from home is: people! What I love the most about life in Calgary is: people! Community matters. As I’ve reflected on the feeling of being somewhat uprooted as I’ve left my family, my home, and my country to be with my man, I’m thankful for community. Mikey learned at a conference this statistic that is backed up by empirical evidence (based on several meta-studies) and we use this quote often in presentations and talks:
“Not having a supportive community is equivalent to smoking one pack of cigarettes a day.”
Isn’t that unbelievable? So I hope that today, whether you are living where you grew up or somewhere very different, either by choice or not, that you are invested in a community. Even your physical (besides mental, emotional, and spiritual!) life is affected by it. If you’re not, take a step out of your comfort zone and get plugged in somewhere – a hobby group, a sports activity club, meet your neighbors, connect at your local church. If you are, be intentional! Love others and pursue that deeper community with them because in the end, even if you’re a California girl at heart, all that matters are those around you.
Thanks for stopping by for today’s “A Day in the Life” series post! Have a great rest of your Thursday and go love others well. Catch ya on the flip side!