Starting over in a new city on your own can be pretty daunting.
The move didn’t go as swimmingly well as I’d hoped. In the midst of clearing out of my apartment, dental surgery complications and their ensuing post-op treatment prevented me from leaving Boston. Switch to Plan B: I was forced to move my stuff into a local storage unit and, rendered homeless as I was, crashed with friends for 3 weeks. The flipside: I got to stay a little longer in my beloved city and perhaps it ultimately eased the transition a wee bit. Packing my belongings had been @#%?&^)!. The amount of stuff I’d accumulated over the last decade mortified me. 27 boxes of books alone… say no more!
I did it once before: eleven years ago I moved from my hometown of Ottawa, Canada to Boston, USA. I was eager to live in that city whose vibe I liked and, though I barely knew it, to which I felt an inexplicable connection. I didn’t have any long-term plans. I didn’t have any family or friends there. I just had my very first job’s letter of offer in hand. Equipped with a couple of large suitcases, I made an unforgiving +12-hr journey by bus to my new home. Perhaps it was not as bold as moving to a country with a foreign language and culture but it took some measure of guts.
Along with the initial transitional challenges, building a social network was a struggle, particularly for an ex-pat. My friendly co-workers were mostly older and settled, commuted out of the city after work, and had their own tight circle of friends. (Was there really a time before (gasp!) Facebook, Meet-Up groups, and all those social networking opportunities?) And as a young intern architect eager to get work experience and with a boyfriend back home, I was willing to put in many extra hours at the office. But little by little, over the years I found my way and created a thriving personal and professional network for myself. And, it must be noted, a comfort zone that would later be hard to leave.
Fast-forward eleven years and here I am, doing it again, on my own, but in reverse: Boston to Toronto this time around. I feel ok about it. Although I’ve truly loved living there, I’ve never really found my stride in Boston. Sadly, it was time to go. I’m ready for new adventures and I like the diversity that Toronto offers. This time, though, I do already know a handful of people here. Lots of unknowns ahead but having done this once before, I have an advantage – I’m better equipped all-round – so I’m jumping in whole hog.
And this time, I’ve done it in style. No longer ‘liquid’ as I once was, I loaded the entire contents of my life/compactly-furnished studio apartment into a rented 14-foot U-haul truck and made the 11-hr drive northwest. Armed with Google maps on my iPhone, I called the shots. Trucker-girl stops when she wants to and answers to no one! Despite some minor hurdles: truck-size discrepancies, flat tire on the highway followed by laggard roadside assistance, I cannot complain. Mine was a one-way vehicle with Arizona plates. Who knows who had borrowed the truck before me? Who knows where it’s been?! That got me thinking of the countless others out there doing something similar at one time or another….
My two-person welcoming committee greeting me back in Canada could not have been greater: Mom and Dad. Gone are the aching tooth and the aching heart. Might have taken a long time to get to this point but I feel pretty good about the direction I’ve taken.