five years in Manitoba

time keeps on slipping

It has been five years. Five whole years since I moved to Manitoba. I can't believe it. It has brought back a gentle reminder of those crazy feelings from my first year here. It is no secret that I wasn't that excited to move to Manitoba. When my husband and I tossed around ideas of moving I really wanted to stay on the east coast or head to British Columbia. The last place I wanted to end up was on the prairies with no real access to the ocean. I didn't know a single person that had ever moved to Manitoba or even vacationed in Manitoba. We moved here anyway, financially and career-wise it made the most sense, and we did our best to convince ourselves that it would all work out fine and be an amazing adventure if we could just get through the first year of change.

That first year was a real bitch. I can't really think of a polite way to describe it. Everyone knew we had arrived. The Nova Scotia plates on our vehicle and my funny east coast accent gave it away immediately. I felt like a freak most of the time. Everyone knew each other and we were the outsiders. I would ask questions and locals would look at me like I had three eyes. I was homesick. I felt like "friendly Manitoba" really wasn't all that friendly. The lyrics to Joel Plaskett's song "Maybe We Should Just Go Home" kept running through my head. It was so overwhelming, new community, new friends, new job, new house, new everything. It was like taking a decade worth of regular life changes and cramming them into one year.

As we neared the end of our first year in Manitoba things were starting to settle out and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. My husband and I decided that we needed to celebrate surviving our first year in Manitoba in a special way. We decided to throw a small  party, east coast style. Lobster was ordered in. Scallops were wrapped in bacon. It was a true Nova Scotia kitchen party. Some of our guests even made t-shirts for the occasion and many had never tried lobster, let alone played with them as they crawled across the kitchen floor. It was an interesting night, sad and happy all at the same time. I felt torn emotionally but decided that enough is enough and I needed to turn that frown upside down and start focusing on the positives in Manitoba. I was done feeling sorry for myself, one full year was enough, I couldn't take it anymore. Since that day I have done my very best to stick to my word.

So here I am now, five years in Manitoba and those horrible feelings are in the past. I find the locals pretty friendly and I no longer feel like a freak. I still have moments of homesickness but I no longer feel overwhelmed by them. I feel like I am part of the community, just with my own east coast flair. I realize now that I judged Manitoba too harshly that first year. My feelings that year were more about me not being adaptable to change rather than about Manitoba itself. I look back on that first year and realize I was a strong person in a weak moment, and it wasn't Manitoba's fault, it was my fault for letting my feelings of homesickness get the better of me. I have grown as a person, and I owe a lot of that to Manitoba. I am glad Manitoba had the patience to wait for me, to allow me to go through my phase and to come out on the other side ready to explore. It has been a great ride. I have seen and explored so many things in Manitoba in the last five years, and I eagerly look forward to exploring more.

I decided I needed to acknowledge my five year anniversary in Manitoba. I wanted to acknowledge the full circle I have come in the last five years, to acknowledge all the wonderful people and places I have discovered in this great province. This time there will be no east coast kitchen party, no lobster, no scallops. Instead I will pay tribute to Manitoba and its rich heritage, to celebrate Manitoba and its people. I decided to order a handmade pair of locally made mukluks and mittens. I chose a beautiful gray leather and gray fur with silver, white and clear beading. I cannot wait for them to be finished and to wear them in Manitoba with pride for many years to come.

Happy five year anniversary Manitoba! Thanks for the memories so far!