The longest I have ever lived in one location is in Moose Jaw as a child. I spent almost ten years growing up on a small acreage outside of town, then another 9 years in a 1912 house in town.
I moved to Regina at age 18, and then proceeded to move at least twice a year. At some point, I’ll get around to documenting all of the places that I have lived and the various people that I have lived with. I mapped it out, approximately. I lived in downtown Regina in four different buildings, three buildings very near the university and four other buildings west of the university by a few kilometers. There was one on the east side of the General Hospital as well, and I think that makes up the buildings that I lived in in Regina. 12 buildings in 7 years.
I am now in Ottawa, Ontario and have been here since May 2008. I have already lived in three different apartments, and if it was up to me, I would be in my fourth already. The first apartment here, I was there for 16 months, until September 2009. That is the longest I have lived anywhere since moving away from my parents in August 2001. And I wanted to move during that time, just Dwayne wouldn’t let me.
So I move, I move to suit my current needs, I move to get away from roommates, I move to get away from neighbours, I move to get closer to work or school.
I have been in Ottawa for over two years, yet when I meet people, I have this instinct to tell them that I am not from Ottawa. I am from Saskatchewan, I am from that flat part of the country where the wheat grows tall and the beavers don’t have much to chew. I am from the part of the country that is technically only two provinces over, but takes four days to drive there. I am from Western Canada and consider Ottawa to be in Eastern Canada, not Central Canada. Central Canada to me is Thunder Bay and the surrounding emptiness, trees, rocks and water.
If you asked me on a regular day, assuming I ever have one of those, if I was proud of where I live, I would likely shrug and say “yeah”. I don’t think about it until I move, or travel somewhere else.
When I was in Germany, I was very quick to say that I was Canadian, I was not American. It was often obvious from my accent that I am not British or Australian, but I could have been American. But to be Canadian, the Germans seemed happier to see me, happier to see me trying their food and learning their language and culture. I felt sorry for the Americans there, because they weren’t welcomed quite as much.In Prague, I finally understood why they weren’t welcome. All the loud annoying people were speaking English, Americans and Brits, the lot of them. I never wanted to have a Canadian flag on me as much as I did then, just to say that I am not with them.
On the two cruises that I have taken, the first question was always “where are y’all from?” I met people from Washington, Florida, Massachusetts, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Vancouver, and many other North American places as well as South Africa and Australia (now those two were an interesting couple since they both spoke German). People are less interested in your name when they know they will only be talking to you for a few hours. Where you are from can bring on discussion, potential debate and generally interesting conversations, where your name is far less likely to do the same.
The first cruise that I went on, to Alaska in August 2007, I was still living in Regina, just moving away from retail jobs to work at CAA Saskatchewan for a brief time. My knees were bothering me but I was ecstatic. I was getting to see places that my geography professors had mentioned, I could identify some of the geologic processes that would have taken place to create some of the features we were seeing. In any case, I digress. My point was more that I tended to be very happy to say that I’m Canadian, less so that I was from Saskatchewan. This is partially due to Saskatchewan being hard to spell, easy to draw but hard to place on a map unless you’ve studied Canadian Geography (which I have). “Vancouver?” “No” “Toronto” “No, about half way, as the crow flies, in between” well, kinda, but it gave them an idea.
On my cruise to the western Caribbean, my parents would answer with “Canada” first when anyone asked. Then, if they showed interest, they would proceed to explain that I am the youngest daughter and that I live in our nation’s capital while they lived in the prairies.
And now, now that I am back in Ottawa, am meeting tons of new people, I almost always mention that I am from Saskatchewan. I had one of the lovely guys from swing dancing see me today and say “Hello Miss Saskatchewan from swing dancing”. He didn’t remember my name, and to be honest,I didn’t remember his, so he went off of what he did remember. And that’s the thing, I danced with him for a few minutes and he knew where I was from.
It’s partially because I am slowly getting interested in new things and am slowly beginning to know the city. I still feel new here but at the same time, I know my way around almost the entire city.
I have decided that I have a few more months of saying that I am new to the city, but at the 30 month mark (end October 2010), I will stop using it as an introductory remark about myself.