Archive for the ‘Displaced Calgarian’ Category

Eating my words

We spent Sunday on Vancouver Island, visiting with some friends from Calgary who were staying in Victoria for a wedding and short holiday. We took the ferry over in the morning and spent the day shopping and eating and catching up with our very good friends. Also, we finally got to meet their daughter who turned two at the beginning of July. Among the things I miss most about living in Calgary, friends are at the top of that list.

My friend Louisa and I spent a good part the day gabbing about Calgary. Me, gushing about how much I missed it and her listing it’s faults – it isn’t green like the West Coast, they don’t have the shopping that we do, the lifestyle isn’t as good, etc. I get to see it firsthand this weekend and judge for myself, as I’m driving with my parents tomorrow to a wedding in Canmore, then hitching a ride into Calgary with some friends and staying with Louisa until late Monday night when I fly back home. I’ve planned a big dinner outing with all of my good friends on Sunday night and I’m simply salivating in the fact that I get to see them again…I can’t wait.

Anyways, on the Ferry ride back Sunday night we were all too tired to move. Lucky for us, our car was parked at the front of the ferry, affording us the best view on the boat and leaving us with no choice but to leave our butts in the carseats as is, lay our heads back and enjoy the sunset. About an hour in, Richard took the kids upstairs to go to the bathroom and I got the sudden urge to pull out my camera and capture the Beauty for all eternity.


When my family got back to the van, I proudly showed Richard my work by flipping through the pictures I had taken. I gushed at the sunset, the beauty of the ocean, the colours in the sky. And that’s when my husband looked at me and said:

“How can you say that you want to go home when you have all of THIS on your doorstep?”

I don’t think I really do want to go home for good. I just need a little taste of Calgary every so often to remind me how truly lucky I am right now.



I just walked by the boardroom at work and did a double take on one of the meeting attendees. I thought my co-workers were having a health & safety session with Former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein. Now, call me an Alberta Girl, but I totally wanted to go in there and get his autograph…possibly on a cheque for all of those tax breaks I missed out on from 1998 forward when we moved out of the Province. Hey, I’m a Liberal but even I can’t deny how that staunch Conservative turned Alberta’s economy around in his tenure. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really him, but I think one of my colleagues is going back into the meeting to tell the guy that I think he looks like a prominent political figure, so maybe I’ll get that autograph anyways. Score!

I have a sharp piece of granola stuck way up into my gums and I’m afraid it’s driving me mental. I think I’d rather have my arm cut off with a chainsaw than suffer this pain. Yes, even my good arm (I’m a righty!). I made granola bars last night, but I ended up burning them and because I’m CHEAP and I paid over four dollars for the can of sweetened condensed milk and thirty thousand dollars for the almonds, I am eating them anyways (Karma, that beyotch, got me good with my first bite and stabbed that needle of granola deep). It only takes a little bit of elbow grease, a hammer and a sharp spatula to force those suckers out of the pan…and Richard’s going to help me chisel the rest out tonight. It’ll be a nice project that we can tackle together.


I burned the granola because I was lost in a sewing project when the timer on the oven went off. I’ve decided to go green and save the environment (single handedly!) by making reusable shopping bags out of old t-shirts. I got the idea from etsy. I noticed a few people are selling slightly different versions of a t-shirt bag and decided to concoct my own version. I made a couple and they turned out really well. I’ll take some piccies and post them later. The trouble now is, I’m scouring the house for old t-shirts and my family has had to put their favourites into hiding for fear they’ll end up holding next month’s groceries. I have reusable bags from Superstore – the black 99 cent ones – but the cashiers at Safeway give me the stinkeye when I use them there, so I thought I’d make up a bunch of t-shirt bags to alleviate that issue. Now, when I hand them my recycled t-shirts to stuff groceries into those jaded cashiers won’t be thinking “damned Superstore shopper”, instead they’ll be thinking “damned Hippie!”

Another Dimension

Vancouver made us feel like we’d just moved from a small, two-horse town to an urban centre the size of New York. There was so much we just hadn’t experienced before and so much that we had yet to become aware of.

Richard started work in downtown Vancouver in the middle of July 1998 and I stayed back in Calgary until September 1st. Adam was born in February of that same year, and after 6 months maternity leave*, I returned to my former job at the cemetery** for the month of August to tie up loose ends before I moved. I spent the summer living with my parents, sleeping in the basement bar (I’ll take foreshadowing for $1000 Alex) on a double mattress with Ashley, surrounded by two pack n’play cribs and many, many boxes of stuff from our old apartment. Richard and I would converse by phone daily and I took every opportunity to cry and beg him to let us move a month or two earlier, so we could all be together again. I hated that summer, as I felt like a single parent abandoned by her spouse…left with a baby, a toddler and a six year-old who was difficult to keep entertained. Add in the fact that every day I had to drive 20km in one direction to drop the kids off at daycare and then turn around and drive 30km in the other direction out to work, past where I’d just come from. I was one unhappy mama.

The kids and I caught a flight to Vancouver the first of September and quickly settled into our vast apartment in North Vancouver (living there was like living on the set of Melrose Place – there was a pool in the centre of the courtyard where everyone gathered on the summer weekends. Everyone knew what everyone else was up to, which was good in that I could trust Ashley to play outside with her friends with minimal supervision. I still miss that place). What we didn’t adapt to as quickly was the vastly different environment we found ourselves in.

The Lower Mainland is beautiful. I mean drop dead, kick you in the nuts, turn it sideways gorgeous. Whereas everywhere you look in Alberta you see sky and prairie, on the West Coast it’s trees and mountains and water and WOW…it’s amazing. There is so much to do too, from Stanley Park to Grouse Mountain to Granville Island to Science World – shopping, sightseeing, entertainment. It’s the Mecca.

All of that was good and wonderful, but Vancouver has a dark side too. On Richard’s first day of work, he witnessed someone attempt suicide by threatening to jump off a building. On our commutes into downtown we would see thousands of homeless people, some of them sleeping shoulder to shoulder in rows in a park – I had seen maybe ten homeless people in my whole life in Calgary. From the commuter train we saw drug deals, prostitution and that memorable woman sporting nothing but high heels and a bolero jacket.

We had NEVER experienced traffic the way that Vancouverites experience traffic. On a typical commute you can sit in traffic for quadruple the time it would actually take you to drive to your office were there no other cars on the road. I have become wise to this over the years. Living here, one does not even drive to the corner store without first going to the bathroom. You just never know when you’ll get to relieve yourself again. Getting over a bridge or through a tunnel could take you til next Tuesday, so I never commute without three important items: an empty bladder, coffee and tunes.

What I remember is that it was a whole lot to get used to…

*don’t even talk to me about the YEAR’s worth of maternity leave that mothers get today. I figure the government owes me 18 months for changing that scheme after I had all my kids. That and cup holders in my strollers. We had nothing when I was a mother back in the dark ages!

**I had a lot of people under me at that job (groan).

Ten years from home…

It was ten years ago this month that we decided to uproot our young family and move almost a thousand kilometres away from our hometown of Calgary to Vancouver, a place that both Richard and I had each visted only one time in our lives (separately, when we were kids). Richard had just finished his diploma at SAIT and was offered a job in his chosen field of Mapping. He was ready to let his new career take him anywhere he needed to go and the Vancouver market was looking fruitfull.

When the initial offer came in by phone and the company had decided to fly Richard out for a formal meet and greet, we sat one night at the top of the hill in Renfrew above the General Hospital, drinking in the view of the entire city that this vantage point offered, and discussed the pros and cons of moving our lives to somewhere completely unknown. Of leaving our friends and family. Of the chances for me to get work in my field. Of how much money it would take for Richard to say yes to the offer*.

Where would we live and how would we know where the right place to live was? What would we do about daycare when the only care our children had known was the loving arms of the Nuns at Little Flower Dayhome Centre? Where would Ashley go to school and what was the school system like in BC anyways?

Would we still be loyal Calgary Flames fans? (we are)

Would we have to eat sushi? (we don’t**)

Would we get back to Calgary a lot to see our friends? (unfortunately, no)

Would we grow to love the Lower Mainland with the same amount of fire that we held in our hearts for Calgary? Would we eventually be able to call it home? Ten years later Richard would answer yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Vicky would say no, not yet, no. And even though she warms up a little bit more with every passing day, she will forever be a Displaced Calgarian.

*We decided that day on $X and surprisingly they offered exactly $X. We still laugh about how little $X actually was and marvel at our ability to live on that.

**My excuse is always “Albertans don’t eat sushi!” Hey, I’m sure a couple of them do, but most of them haven’t come out to their parents about it yet. Sure, they’ll tell you it’s a genetic thing, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a choice!