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: