Well folks, I’m ready for 2020, how about you?
This past decade has been one of incredible transformative change for myself and my wife, but 2019 really topped this decade off with a bang. In the past two weeks alone, we have experienced such intense contrast of simultaneous joy, stress, sadness, grief, and gratitude, which seems to bring all of our life experience from 2009 to 2019 into sharp focus.
This past weekend, my Sweetie lost her brother. It was such a shock as he was a young and healthy man. We thought we’d be travelling to Ontario, but as he passed in a foreign country where he lived for years, there will not be a service in his home town in Ontario in the immediate future.
This happened right on the tail of us buying our first home – finally achieving housing stability after a decade of being tossed around in the volatile rental market. (We have rented for over 20 years, but the past 10 years have been completely off the chain in terms of expense and unpredictability.)
When my brother in law died, we were pretty sure we’d be travelling to Ontario, but we hadn’t finished closing on our condo – so I asked the realtor and lawyer if there was anything they could do to help us sew things up, so that Sweetie and I could travel if we needed to.
This pushed the final signing of all of the paperwork to yesterday, December 12￼, which is my mother’s birthday.
That alone was nice, to be starting a brand new, more secure future on a date we have traditionally celebrated in our family.
Before my mother died, she said “I’ll send you schnauzers,” as a way of saying hello from the other side. I said, “That’s great, but can you please also send birds too? Because there aren’t a lot of schnauzers around.”
There aren’t a lot of schnauzers around in general, but Mom has found ways to put schnauzers in my path over the years since she died – and she found one to send my way on Dec 11th, right after booking the final appointment with a lawyer. It was an unusual white schnauzer too, who had deep brown eyes that reminded me of my childhood dog, Heidi. I figured that was Mom saying hello.
Well darn it, I got to work and one of my coworkers had brought in black forest cake for no reason. She said it just “jumped out at me!” So she bought it on impulse and brought it in.
I love black forest cake, mainly because it’s the official birthday cake of our family. Every time anyone in our family had a birthday, the request for black forest cake was happily met, and even years after my sister and I left home, we would continue to make black forest cakes on our birthdays and send each other photos to share our celebration across the distance.
It wasn’t until I had actually eaten a piece of the cake, which reminded me of all of these childhood memories and how many birthdays and other big life celebrations had been marked with this cake, that I realized what had just happened.
I was eating black forest cake ON MY MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY in celebration of our first home.
And then I started crying at work! It was a special moment.
10 years ago, Sweetie and I moved from Toronto to Ucluelet, to start a brand new adventure together. Adventure it was! Filled with growth and uncertainty, surrounded by the savage wild beauty of beaches, ocean, apex predators and rare migratory birds. It was a spectacular place to live for a decade, where I developed my identity as a community member, a hospital worker, and a professional psychic. I feel like Ucluelet and Tofino gave me the space and community to grow into who I became, who I am now.
Here we are now, just arrived in Victoria, able to make a permanent home here. We are so lucky! The city is growing on me, and while I still keenly miss the wild west coast that felt like home from the first days I discovered it, I know that it is time for us to return to city dwelling, and grow anew here. There are a lot of things I enjoy about Victoria which I missed living in a remote area. I missed movies, art galleries, museums, comedy clubs, and I missed shopping options. There is a lot to enjoy about city life.
And Victoria is such a beautiful city, surrounded by ocean, harbour front, bike paths, and gorgeous architecture. There are centuries of city-history visible here, and thousands of years of First Nations history to discover. I still see eagles, blue herons, and deer – not every day, but often enough that I can still feel connected with the nature I adore. Annually, I do plan to get on a boat and go out to visit the whales too. They’re still here as well!
It is a comfort too, to know that we can take a direct flight from the Victoria airport, to Toronto or Ottawa to connect with our family back there, if needed. Travel to Ontario will no longer be a two-day venture, but a completely manageable 12 – 16 hour journey.
I think, six months in, I am settling into Victoria. I love our neighbourhood where we bought our condo, and I won’t have to deal with the busy highway on a daily basis to get to work anymore. I’ll be able to bike to work when I feel like it too, which is great because I need the exercise.
We will be moving in to our new permanent home on January the 8th. Sweetie and I send you all warm holiday wishes, and we would really appreciate your thoughts and prayers for her brother, and our family as we grieve his loss and remember his life and love.
I hope you all have a beautiful December, and remember that winter solstice is just around the corner, so the daylight will be coming back soon!