Note – This is going to be a personal post, so if you just come here for booktalk, feel free to skip over this. I won’t be offended.
Okay, maybe “triumphant” isn’t quite what I feel, given that there are still some boxes to be unpacked and the whole move won’t be all done and dusted until March 1, but the big stuff’s all out of the way. I’m pretty much settled in Summerside, and will be returning to Saint John only once more to finish up a last couple of things at the old apartment before saying goodbye to it for good.
It’s a sad and happy feeling. Like graduating high school. You know one period of your life is behind you, and that the world is opening up with bigger and better things, but there’s still that lingering bittersweet sensation in your chest, because you’re leaving behind something that, whether you noticed it or not, became a part of you over time.
Or maybe that’s just sentimental nonsense and I’m just one of those people who gets stupidly emotional about stupid things. Could be.
It is a little weird, though. I’ve moved apartments from time to time, but I lived in Saint John since I was 5, and only now at the age of 30 do I find myself no longer living in the same city, not even the same province as before! And I have no particular reason to go back there, either. I have no family there. Very few friends, and most of those are people I kept up with more on Facebook than face-to-face even when we were in the same city. There’ve only ever really been a couple of things holding me there, and those are now with me in PEI. It’s a bit of an adjustment to have to make.
But it’s an adjustment that I was more than eager for, and I can thank that damned tumour for that. For those who weren’t following me at that time, a couple of years ago I found out I had a tumour on my uterus, and went through hell with it thanks to a doctor who kept ignoring the ever-worsening symptoms until it pretty much got shoved in her face that oh yeah, that thing might actually be making this person sick. I have no idea how long the thing had been growing inside me, but I dealt with out-of-control symptoms for over a year before I finally convinced her to agree to surgery to remove it. By that point, it had nearly cost me my job due to absenteeism, I had to go on multiple leaves of absence to avoid getting fired because there were days when I was too sick to leave my apartment, and I still live in fear of the fact that there’s a 10-30% chance that the tumour will come back, and just as severely, within 5 years. (Though I’m almost at the 2 year mark now, and so far things are looking okay!)
But going through a health crisis like that affects you even once the crisis has ended. Things get stuck in your head. Walking along a certain street makes me want to cry, because of all the times I walked along there when I was still able to work, slowly because I was anemic and didn’t know it and so was blaming myself for being tired and out of breath because I’m clearly just lazy and let myself get more out of shape than I realised. When the wind is cold and I’m outside, I can’t help but remember all the days and nights it chilled me more than it ought to have, because again, I was sicker than I realised. Riding the bus that goes by the hospital, even when I’m not going to the hospital, makes my stomach clench in fear from all the times I went there for appointments. This city is full of reminders of me being sick, and I’m so tired of confronting those reminders just to get to things that I’m actually able to enjoy now.
Sometimes when I’m sick with a stupid cold and take NyQuil, that drowsy falling heart-is-wrapped-in-fluffy-cotton sensation reminds me of that moment when the anesthetic hits, as I was about to get my abdomen sliced into so the tumour could be removed, and I have to fight down a panic attack at the memory.
You think the problem’s over when you get healthy again. Part of the problem is. The mental stuff, the emotional stuff, that lingers, and it lingers a lot longer than you’d think. Sometimes it feels like you’re never going to stop getting slapped in the face by memories.
This is one of the big reasons why I’ve been looking forward to this move. To get away from those reminders. To be able to walk down a street without being faced with all the times I walked down it before. To be able to listen to music in surroundings that are different from when I listened to that same music when I was ill. In a nutshell, to leave my past behind and to be able to move ahead without as much baggage. I wasn’t about to turn down the chance.
Besides, I’m living in a house now, not an apartment! A rented house, but still, it’s a house, and it’s the first time I’ve lived in one since… Well, since I was younger than 5, that’s for certain!
It’s a small house, but it suits our needs. 2 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, a basement for storage. Very conveniently located, as it’s 5 minutes walk from a small grocery store, 10 minutes walk from the library and a pharmacy, and about 10 minutes cab ride away from the major shopping area of the city. Which isn’t saying much, really; it’s the 2nd largest city on Prince Edward Island and has a population of around 15,000. It only became large enough to be called a city 20 years ago, after a few towns amalgamated. And I like it! It takes a lot of the stuff I dislike about cities and gets rid of them, largely leaves things I’m interested in, and anything it’s not large enough for that I might actually want are things that I didn’t really get in Saint John anyway. The largest city on the island is about 1 hour’s drive away, and most of the other little things I want (a good-sized bookstore, a craft supply store) are there. I’m less than 5 minutes walk from part of the Confederation Trail, which means plenty of opportunity for hiking that can start practically right at my front door!
Besides, how can I not like a place when I’d been there for less than 48 hours and got to see a fox running up and down my street? I mean, is that not awesome?!
The arrangement between R and I means that, for the first time in my life, I don’t have to worry about work. R is working as a lab tech in the local hospital, and making decent money from it, and because I helped with the expenses while R was at school learning to do all that cool lab stuff, the flip side of that arrangement means that I now get the chance to pursue something I want. For now, that means taking care of household stuff while R works, and I’m fine with that. I don’t need to worry about getting a job any time soon, and if I do want to get one, it need only be part-time and at a workplace I actually want to be at, rather than whatever place will hire me first. But for the moment, I’m very happy being a Stay-At-Home Tater, cleaning and shovelling snow and cooking tasty food. Career training or education can come later. (Believe me, it is incredibly tempting to try to get a university degree, since UPEI has many courses and programs that are of great interest to me. The only trick would be affording it. I guess that’s where that part-time job would come in.)
Anyway, that’s where my life stands at the moment. In a happier place, a more stable place, and hopefully one that will serve as a good jumping-off point for improving other areas of my life. Leaving the past behind and looking to the future.
And if anyone wants to drop by for a cup of tea, you’re more than welcome.