New Horizons

I’ve final­ly moved to the coast!

I’ll give the long ver­sion of things in a moment, but first, here’s a roundup of some of the high­lights on the road to my new home:


And now, my tale in a nutshell …

For many years I’ve had a long­stand­ing long­ing to put down roots in a coastal city and return to the sea. Entire Live­jour­nal themes, domain lay­outs, poet­ry, and oth­er con­tent have been ded­i­cat­ed to the idea, and I’ve writ­ten no short­age of posts rem­i­nisc­ing about old adventures.

When you first put to sea, it’s an expe­ri­ence you take deep into mem­o­ry and hold onto for the rest of your life. If you enjoy it, so much the bet­ter. If you absolute­ly love it, like I did, then it takes on an endur­ing charm and sig­nif­i­cance that becomes impos­si­ble to ignore.

It’s in your blood, the say­ing goes.

And so it is.

A few months after return­ing to my home town in the fall of 2001, I began des­per­ate­ly miss­ing the sea­side — the gur­gling lull and wispy crash of the waves, the kiss of the salty breeze on my cheeks, the diverse plants and wildlife, the deep char­coal hue of rocky basalt cliff­sides, the explo­ration of remote islands and pris­tine loca­tions — each facet entwined with the rest, form­ing an all-encom­pass­ing fab­ric of dreams and sen­sa­tions unlike any oth­er place on Earth.

When a place offers that cal­iber of inspi­ra­tion, you even­tu­al­ly come to real­ize that by fail­ing to pur­sue it, a part of you is missing.

This year, I resolved to put that decade-old plan into action. It was time for a change.

Eco­nom­i­cal­ly speak­ing, Kam­loops was hit bad­ly by the eco­nom­ic tur­moil of recent years and still car­ries above aver­age unem­ploy­ment ver­sus the nation­al and provin­cial lev­els. A num­ber of sub­stan­tial employ­ers includ­ing Con­ver­gys CMG Cana­da and Pol­lard Ban­knote have moved away or dis­solved their oper­a­tions, and even many down­town restau­rants have been clos­ing their doors dur­ing off-peak hours for some time now. To add insult to injury, in the wake of the shocks of 2008 down­siz­ing has also become more commonplace.

In the wake of my pre­vi­ous employ­er mov­ing its oper­a­tions over­seas and fir­ing the 500+ employ­ees sta­tioned in Kam­loops, I’ve been to many job inter­views where I’ve crossed paths with a huge pool of skilled work­ers, many of whom car­ry ten years or more of expe­ri­ence in their fields, which the local labour mar­ket has been unable to re-absorb due to a lack of oppor­tu­ni­ties. For many, being in that posi­tion has turned into the ugly choice of being forced to take a low­er pay­ing job, or turn to gov­ern­ment ben­e­fits, or face being des­ti­tute. For the most part, I thought I had it bad until I saw their situation.

Recent ini­tia­tives like the pro­posed Telus devel­op­ment plan and the Ajax mine offer some reas­sur­ance on the sur­face, but it remains to be seen how many viable jobs the city will be able to squeeze out of these projects once they’re green­light­ed. Hope­ful­ly they’ll wind up being that much-need­ed ray of sunshine.

The prob­lem of ‘brain drain’ was some­what more com­pelling, though. Kam­loops stu­dents gen­er­al­ly fol­low a com­mon pat­tern in post sec­ondary: they go to uni­ver­si­ty, then they move to some oth­er city to put their edu­ca­tion to use. Very few stay behind, and those that do run a much high­er chance of being forced to switch careers ear­ly on. While long known to gov­ern­ment, this prob­lem has not been sat­is­fac­to­ri­ly addressed in the time since it became vis­i­ble, as devel­op­ment is slug­gish, and the one major hur­dle for many grads when it comes to find­ing place­ment in the region remains the lack of suit­able opportunities.

Hav­ing been trained in both the fine arts and as part of a for­mal career devel­op­ment pro­gram (Dig­i­tal Art and Design), my own pro­fes­sors had at one point giv­en sim­i­lar advice against remain­ing in town post-grad­u­a­tion. As it turns out, they were right. There are no short­cuts and the con­ven­tion­al wis­dom still applies: if you want a rel­e­vant job, you have to kick it up a notch and make your­self rel­e­vant by fol­low­ing the mar­ket. As scary as it’s been to pack up and strike it out on my own, I feel more opti­mistic at hav­ing final­ly set myself at a prop­er start to that path.

From here on, it’s going to be an adven­ture in experience.

My vision of the future is about learn­ing to grow and to be stronger, bet­ter, smarter, and above all, more suc­cess­ful. Life­long learn­ing has always been my strongest pas­sion, and that has­n’t changed.

Fam­i­ly mat­ters, and while mov­ing to Que­bec was also up for con­sid­er­a­tion sev­er­al times when look­ing for work, the logis­tics were impos­si­ble and prac­ti­cal­i­ty meant it came down to liv­ing in a place where I had fam­i­ly sit­u­at­ed near­by in BC, so I guess this worked out all right. The pos­i­tive feed­back I’ve had from my fam­i­ly and friends to pur­sue this path has been invalu­able, and I’m thank­ful to have the extra encouragement.

While I rarely talk about my own life or my chil­dren online, the real­i­ty is they’ve been my world for as far back as they’ve been part of my life, and I’m in this every bit as much for their sake as for my own. Being a par­ent is some­thing that’s inher­ent­ly bound up in hard work and sac­ri­fice, and what goes unrec­og­nized even nowa­days is that it becomes mag­ni­fied a hun­dred fold when deal­ing with split and blend­ed fam­i­lies. Some­times there are times where, in order to arrive at a brighter future, one must let go of their own pre­con­ceived ideas and sim­ply … jump.

It’s all part of the plan.

The move itself was pret­ty non­de­script. A big thanks to my friends and fam­i­ly for tons of help and good times togeth­er. Things went well and apart from there being an almost hilar­i­ous lack of trucks in town when I booked this, it was­n’t as dif­fi­cult as it could have been. The only advice I have for would-be movers out there is book ear­ly — some­times you’ll need to go as far as one month in advance to get the unit you need. I guess in that respect I’m lucky I only had to ditch a couch. Could’ve been worse.

I found out some pret­ty awe­some stuff since I got here, among them this weath­er win­ners entry by Envi­ron­ment Cana­da. Less time fight­ing the ele­ments is a good thing. We’re also the cycling cap­i­tal of Cana­da, so com­ing into that as an all-weath­er, year-round cyclist is like get­ting one hell of an ear­ly Christ­mas present. Bicy­cle cul­ture is ingrained in this city’s psy­che and the infra­struc­ture cer­tain­ly reflects that! It’s also a very fam­i­ly-friend­ly place, replete with par­ent­ing resources and low cost attrac­tions, all of which are light years ahead of any­thing I’ve expe­ri­enced before.

There’s also a ton of events to appeal the curios­i­ty and fru­gal side in all of us, among them a long list of flea mar­kets, civic events, spe­cial­ty mar­kets, multi­block garage sales, and — my per­son­al favourite — the Times Colonist Annu­al Book Sale. It also appears that in the course of my explo­rations I was noticed by one of the local news­pa­pers, who approached me for a pho­to-op. Thanks for that, Times Colonist. It was awesome!

Any­ways, that pret­ty much sums up my life since I stepped off the ferry.

I’ll end this post with a few ded­i­ca­tions, because music is just one more way of telling the world what resides in the heart.

This first one goes out to TC, TJ, and EC, and to my fam­i­ly, in deep­est grat­i­tude for being there at lift-off. May you all soar high!

To KC and DM, in remem­brance of all the fun and amaz­ing times we’ve shared, and in dream­ing of one day being able to sail the waves together!

To CF and MD for all the good times, the for­mer an author­i­ty on all things Skyrim, and the lat­ter an author­i­ty on breath­ing fire under one’s own ass to strive higher.

To MB, for the plums. Night shift was awe­some. Let the good times roll for you and yours!

And in the spir­it of liv­ing for the here and now:

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