Relocation from Toronto to Ottawa/Gatineau

Just over a year ago, I took the risk of relocating to Ottawa/Gatineau from Toronto.  And risk it certainly was, although predicated on a bit of good fortune – I had been accepted back into a doctoral program at the University of Ottawa on full scholarship, including tuition and TAships for the duration (the tale of what happened is in another section – The Jeopardy of the Academy).  I had not a sou saved with which to accomplish the move,  but, because I was moving to Gatineau, in Quebec, only first month’s was required, plus a mere hundred for deposit – unlike “first and last”, the norm for Ontario.  It seemed too good an opportunity to let go by, given that I had indeed applied to the program.  A friend was kind enough to put the bill for the truck rental on her credit card – for me to pay back once school and the TA positions started, and she would drive (I no longer have a licence – must get one back, though !!!!!) and, bless her heart, she came through.  I did the rest: pared down, disposed, arranged, packed – and I loaded the truck (our deal was that while she could drive, she definitely could not lift anything, and no one else, except my daughter,  came to help !!!)  – it took me two days, in the rain.  A not inconsiderable outlay of sheer work for someone of my vintage (58 again, again, again).  And, of course, saying a good bye to my darling daughter was wrenching beyond words.   We have hardly been apart since her birth.  Because she is handicapped, and even though she moved out on her own years ago, I provided a constant source of “logistical support”.  There was always the uneasy question of what she would do, could she manage, if I were no longer around to provide that support – and we seemed incapable of resisting our cozy habits. Ergo, she championed my going to Ottawa, after all, it would be much easier for me to learn a new town than for her to do it – she would have TO all to herself!!!!, ma would not be around, and that would help get other people to help (as opposed to the assumption that I would and should be the one to give support  – see her blog for that discussion).  But, it was not easy for either of us, for both of us, for me to really get in the truck and drive down the road. It was terrifying on all counts.  What has made it bearable is that we have been able to do visits back and forth, so the sense that, although separated, we still are each other’s family and that as a family we are still functioning, just in a new way, has given us confidence in the rightness of the decision..  No question,  it was a rough year for both of us  –  we, both of us, survived  –  and the stronger for it.  But moving to a new location was harder for me than I had anticipated.  I counted on the university to ground me, to provide a social setting – and when that fell through (I quit), I found myself without a community and, living just across the river, in Gatineau, in a territory where English is definitely not the medium of communication. Although I have had many years of school French, I found that my ear just couldn’t sort out the sounds into intelligible patterns – still working on this, but surprised (and shocked) me too. I do love the region though, at least for 9 months of the year – during the depths of winter, however,  I hated it.  I would definitely be a snowbird, if I could.  But for those other 9 months, where I am living is beautiful, relatively cheap compared to TO or even to Ottawa proper. At night, I can see the lights on the mountain, I can go walking by the river, I know my way around, it is beginning to feel like “home” finally.  I still have two major “challenges” to sort out: finding that community (did start attending the Unitarian Fellowship – but school assignments made that really difficult to do regularly, and the congregation has dispersed for the summer), have applied to various NGOs to do volunteer work, still waiting for responses.  The second one is that, now being out of university, I have turned back to getting my work “out in the world”: my songs recorded and out on CD, the three books that are ready to go out in various formats (hard copy, e-book, audio book) and get to teaching, independently, the courses that have been on the back burner for so long: Mythic Movies and Danced Prayer.  Not easy to get them up and running, even with minimal expenses (room rental, promotion materials) for the awkward reason that, without that TA money, and with the cutback in my pension because of the TAships of last year, I am in a “straightened” situation.  But will persevere – it can’t be as hard as loading the truck, by myself, in the rain. Well, once the truck arrived in Ottawa/Gatineau, I was too tired to unload, and my friend was utterly exhausted, so we did pay for two guys to unload (goes on the bill, which as of now, is only partially repaid – one reason for the urgency of getting going on the work ventures).  I put my friend on the bus back to TO, and then, because I didn’t really know the bus system and had only a few bucks for food until the next bit of money came in (several days hence from then), one of the obliging guards at the bus station printed out a map for me and traced the route back to my new place.  I walked back, some 9 k “home” – and although bone weary, it was, incredibly, the best thing I could have done, I walked Ottawa/Gatineau into my bones and muscles, walked along the river in the moonlight, perfect weather, that warm -cool of a summer’s night.  Fell in love with the lights on the river, a bit less heart sick at leaving my daughter.  When I got back, to the unholy mess that was my new apartment, had to find the bedding and set up a temporary crash.  Next morning, sort of dazed, began the work of putting my new place together and by the end of the week, it was up and running – pretty much as it is now, a year later.  Well, just going to go for a walk along the river, seems like a good anniversary thing to do. Blessed Be.

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