Sunday, June 29, 2014

One Year In

We have lived here in our new town for almost a year now.  Which is nuts!  Time is ridiculous.  Because we are nearing the one year anniversary of our move I've been reflecting on a few things.  Our biggest fear in moving our little family was how the kids would adjust to a new school.  They're small, they had never moved communities before, and their school and neighbourhood were their entire world.  It is a lot to ask of a small person, to change all that on the whim of their parents.

But we also knew there would be major advantages for our kids to living up here, not least of which is learning to adapt to change.  We almost had no choice when it came to moving: financially we could have downsized our home but logistically it would have been impractical to do so with as many kids as we have.  We were drowning.  I had returned to work but that process kind of turned into a sour dead end (more on that soon).  We had reached the end of our commitment to Surrey and were free to look elsewhere for postings, had always talked about wanting a more rural life, and we are adventurous types.  If we CAN have an adventure?  We will pretty much always take it.

You know, adventures like traveling together.  Having four kids.  Adopting.  Leaping into crazy jobs with unpredictable elements and lots of adrenaline.  And taking an isolated post in rural BC.  I love my spouse.  We are perfectly matched (except when it comes to housework), he makes me crazy and happy all at once, and I love that we're the right mix for each other of adventurous and peaceful.  Adrenaline and chill.

"If it feels wild and terrifying, it's probably worth doing"

SO.  We applied for every small town post in BC and the Yukon, minimum population of 200 people.  We were wide open to the possibilities, and willing to go almost anywhere.  We kind of figured that if we were that open, we would get posted to Horsefly for sure.  But instead, a few weeks before Christmas, we got an 'unofficial' email letting us know we had been slotted for our current tiny town on Vancouver Island.  We couldn't tell anyone yet because it wasn't official, plus we didn't want to count our chickens too early.  A move like this isn't done until it's done.  So we waited until April for official confirmation that we had indeed been offered this post, and then we told people.  Including the kids.  Who cried.  We felt terrible because here we are all excited and looking forward to an adventure in a rural rainforest, and our kids are in tears.  We were moving them away from their grandparents, their home, their schools, their friends, our church, and every familiar element of community they had ever known.  Often, we make major decisions with input from everyone, but this time we made it as an executive team of two.  Gulp.  And leap.  We validated their feelings about moving, and talked up the plus sides of Island life.  More fishing!!  More camping!!  More freedom to roam!  Ocean!  They slowly came around.

The great part about having this move be isolated is that it is limited as far as time.  Anything that feels isolating or difficult, we can assure ourselves is temporary and not a life sentence.  But of course there's a sad flip side to that, too; as soon as we feel at home, it will be time to look at moving again.  Anyone we form a serious bond with, will be someone we say goodbye to in a few years.  The view that fills us with enthusiasm will never be something we can afford again, anywhere else we go.  Such is this life we have chosen.

It has really felt like God cleared a path for us before we came here.  The church family we found, the work family, the job opportunity for me, our house... All of it has seemed like a gift.  Not all of what we have encountered here has been easy.  Socially, making friends here is difficult.  I asked five or six different families for play dates for Riley in the beginning of the school year, and all of them said no on several occasions.  It wasn't until Riley burst into tears one day after yet another request was turned down and the other mom realized, turned around, and changed her mind did he make a single friend.  That was hard.  The first church we went to when we arrived, all 40ish attendees that day watched us enter, and watched us leave afterwards without saying a word.  Only the pastor introduced himself to us, on the way out the door.  It was like we had three eyes or something.  (We found a different church the following week that was more friendly and are quite happy there).

Groceries are fracking expensive.  I miss my in-laws.  I miss movies and going out for dinner and sometimes being anonymous.  I miss the fact that baseball and soccer seasons don't overlap in the Lower Mainland.
I miss websites.  Nothing here is really online in any true sense of the word.  Although we've found tremendous financial relief for everyday life, it is slow going tackling our mountain of debt.

Although we're by no means in Horsefly, we are significantly isolated.  Anyone who visits is like ...The road from Campbell River... Woah...  Both our jobs are quite a bit less exciting than our previous posts.  Time off is hard to come by.

But the fishing!  And the camping!  And THE BEACH!  The kids have all made friends, adjusted, settled in, and feel at home again.  They love the freedom to roam all over town, ride bikes and make forts and run Go Karts down the hill.  They adjusted.  They weren't untouched by the change, and they still curl up next to me and talk about wishing to move back on a regular basis.  They miss their family and friends and schools.  Saying goodbye is always hard.  It never gets easier, although you learn that you do indeed survive it.  Already we are more connected with the police community and that always entails a constant swinging door of goodbyes and hellos, since someone is always moving on or moving in.  We made some good friends nearby who were very similar to us; same religion, same reason for living here, same amount of kids.  Kristen is even the same degree of irreverent as me!  But this week they moved away.  Amarys keeps asking to go to her best friend's house (she met her match folks. And it was awesome), and doesn't really understand where she moved to...

99% of the move was amazing.  Life up here is pretty chill.  It suits us well, and we are so happy to have landed here, on our twelve feet.  Thanks for reading, and listening to my ruminating, as always.  xo.


Louise Chapman said...

So happy to hear this reflection! So glad that overall, the move has been so good. And yes, the road from Cambpell River is longer than I thought!

Caryn Ouwehand said...

I love this post. Great thoughts. And props for making the decision without having the world weigh in on it. That is important with many big changes, and I think we forget to trust ourselves enough to do it.

PS - loooooved the radar gun in the previous post. LOL!

melissa v. said...

@Louise, I'm so glad the overall move has been so good too. I mean, lots of that is attitude--we came here intending to embrace it, and live where we were at--but our kids didn't have to embrace the same attitude, so it could have been more of a flop.
That road is looooooong!! But so worth it. And every time I drive it (which is often, due to my job), I'm floored by the beauty of that drive. I love the forests, mountains, glimpses of the ocean, and majestic cloudscapes....

@Caryn, you're absolutely right. This felt like a decision only we could really make, since only we two really knew all the factors up close and personal. I hope you get to come visit once before we leave!!!!
And about the radar gun; you just can't go wrong having a cop for a dad....

Lori LLS said...

I love this post, Mel. Yesssss for adventure!

Also, I have tears in my eyes on Riley's behalf. I didn't know that turning down play dates was a thing people did. And repeatedly? I am befuddled.