Ten days ago, my husband, youngest son and I arrived on the west coast to start our new life in Vancouver. There were so many pieces to this puzzle of relocation, starting with job interviews, a job offer, listing our house, researching Vancouver-area schools, interviewing principals, scouring for a home in school catchment areas, packing up our house, saying a lot of tearful good-byes to friends and family, driving for 14 hours, getting the keys to our new place, moving in, flying our cats here, and finally closing the sale of our Edmonton home late last night.
While our move seemed sudden to some, my husband says it was actually 30 years in the making – rewinding to back when he was in grade 12, and lived for a semester in Vancouver with his dad. He’d been scheming to get back to the coast ever since, and now here we finally are.
Our health communications business in Edmonton – Bird Communications – remains alive and well, with 11 Bird Associates on the ground back in Alberta. To be truthful, Bird Edmonton is busier than ever – we’ve been frantically writing proposals for new work over the past weeks. We hope to launch Bird BC, too – but as we recognize that since our business model is relationship-based, and that it takes time to build relationships…well, we will be very patient with this work in a new locale.
On a personal level, I was born in Edmonton-area, and experienced a significant move only once. When I was pregnant with Ella 18 years ago, my then-husband, 2 year old son and I moved to Winnipeg, sight-unseen. That was a tough move – we had no friends or family there, but eventually we built our own community. I remember it taking about three years before I truly felt at home. I did live in Bergen in Norway with my two eldest kids back in 2001, but that was only for five months – that was more like an extended visit than a move. Then we moved back to my hometown of Edmonton.
This transition to Vancouver is a big one. We find ourselves living at the bottom of a mountain in the city of Burnaby, which is part of Metro Vancouver. My brother and his family live a 15 minute drive west in East Van, and my husband’s sister and husband are 20 minutes to the east. My parents are a ferry ride away, on Vancouver Island. I haven’t had extended family close by for decades, and I am happy about this added perk.
My eldest son lives in the US, but my beloved daughter Ella is still back in Edmonton. If I was to write a pro and con list for this move, the only con is the distance between us now. I miss her terribly. I’m counting down the days until we see each other (I’m speaking at a conference in Banff next Friday and she and her boyfriend are driving down to meet up).
I begin work next Monday. I’ll work three days a week at my new position, and will fill my days off with kid stuff, writing, Bird work and speaking engagements. It will truly be a new work life for me, as I’ve been freelancing and working independently as a contractor for over a decade. But I’m excited about having the opportunity to make a difference for families in the pediatric health system here.
Epiphanies about relocation? Change is hard – that’s why we all avoid it. If it was easy, we’d just change all the time. Moving comes with a great amount of loss. Saying good-bye is hard, but all the kind notes, gifts, dinner dates and parties with my mom friends this past month sure helped. I left feeling very loved. I won’t ever get over missing Ella, and the only thing that makes me feel better is that one day she might join us in the land of ocean and mountains.
It is Spring Break for Aaron, and we’ve been spending a glorious amount of time together (more on that later). There’s a cherry tree about ready to explode with blossoms outside my home office window. This is the dawn of a new era. I say bring it on.