It’s been six months since moving away from Calgary, AB to Victoria, BC. I wrote this blog post at the height of my homesickness…kind of like an ode to Calgary. While Victoria is my new home and I’m learning to love it, Calgary will always hold a special place in my heart.
I’ve lived in Calgary almost my entire life — definitely my entire adult life. I’m now thirty-six. My husband and I made the decision to move to Victoria, a city in the south of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, partly because my husband found a great career opportunity…and partly because my family lives close by. I’m actually the last one from my fam to move out here from Calgary, so I guess it was time. Thing is, I thought I would enjoy the change. I’ve been complaining about how Calgary was always the outlet city, almost never a stop on the tour of a mainstream (or any stream!) artist, unapologetically conservative and a staunch oil and gas town. I longed for different people who brought more culture with them, downtown places that remained open past six p.m. — last call for those making the long trek home to the ‘burbs. Fashion houses who didn’t just dump their fringed leather trends or denim outfits into their recently-opened last-ditch-effort-to-sell-them outlet centres. When I was younger, I longed for nightlife with purpose. ‘Discoteques’, which opened just as frequently as they closed down — clearly did not belong in Calgary. As I got older, and had children, I wanted spaces for them to appreciate the city lights along with the greenery that Calgary is well-known for. Places for them to play, explore and learn.
I moved away hoping to find these things and more. And I did. But not in Victoria, at least not now, not yet. I realized that all these things were already in Calgary. But not just the culture — craft beer, pizza and ice cream and the myriad of fashion houses to finally open their doors in Calgary — but also places for my children to play, explore and learn. The Science Centre, Zoo, National Music Centre and the recently opened Central Library are all within a couple of train stops from each other. Riding on the network of bike trails leading up to those locations and the beautiful new East Village and St. Patrick’s Island were something my kids and I looked forward to every spring and summer. And the people… the people of Calgary, are as protective of their oil and gas assets as they are of their neighbours. You see, the cold makes people warmer somehow.
Speaking of which, as much as I hated those snowy, freezing sub-zero temperatures which made me want to (and sometimes I did) hibernate for weeks, I miss them. They became predictable. You learned that after the snow stopped falling, the sun would surely shine. And how I miss that wintery sunshine. Deceptive as it was (it’s so, so much colder when it’s sunny out, when you see the pretty snow glisten like so many heaps of diamonds) you knew when to bundle up. But you also knew to take advantage of the fresh snow…some went skiing or snowboarding on the nearby hills (or mountains — Calgary is oh-so-close to Banff and Canmore) or my still-favorite past-time — tobogganing and hot chocolate. And you also knew that you’d get a break — because Calgary, as opposed to the rest of snowy, cold, Canada — gets Chinooks. Beautiful warm winds that blow through the foothills, melting much of the snow on the ground, leaving the roads and your leather boots a mucky mess, but allowing for just enough time to get together with friends for a walk or to go for brunch at one of the many yummy breakfast places the city has to offer.
I feel like I left Calgary just as things were getting good. Maybe, had I opened my eyes, I would have realized they had been getting good for a quite a while. Yes, Calgary is still struggling financially, and will for some time. But as they say, ‘if you can’t stay for the bad times, you sure as hell don’t deserve the good times’, amirite?
The grass may be greener on the other side (and here it remains green even in the winter!) but Calgary will always be perfect to me.