There is something lifeless, and remote about Ottawa. The drone of Government life hovers like a black cloud over the city, there is a force that overpowers you. Ottawa is a town masquerading as a city, it has so many limitations, it is a city many say is far from reality, geographically. There is a point in which you realize that you are exactly like everyone else, there is a code, if you break that code you are doing something absolutely horrific. It wasn’t until we left for 3 years that I was finally able to step outside myself and identify what was wrong. I looked at the way I was dressing our son, and the way Andrew and I were dressing. We had been living in Vancouver for 3 years, and we still looked like Ottawa. We were both from middle class families, ultra conservative. You were supposed to go to University, start working, get married, buy a house, have children, then get them through school, retire, then have fun. I should also add that Ottawa is a force onto itself, when you start working for the government you have grand ideas of a career, you think it is fantastic, you work so hard and you truly believe you are changing the course of the government. Then reality hits, it starts by older employees who tell you they are on retirement countdown, then as you become more serious about moving up competition and gossip starts. You realize you are crying in the bathroom stall 3 floors above yours, after spending many late nights and early mornings working on something that gets canned. This is the moment many just buck up, and say, well this is life, this is my career. We moved to Vancouver after 10 years in Ottawa. You don’t control your environment in Ottawa, the environment controls you.
Vancouver has been phenomenal, but it never fit really well. The people were awesome, the skyline was incredible, and the outdoor life was nothing I had experienced before. I was hooked! Our downtown living was unbelievable, our condo was tiny, but it would do. We had dreams of buying and living our lives as Dual Income No Kids, it was all good. Well then reality hits. We got our dog, which we had always wanted, she was perfect and still is. Then I got pregnant, which we wished would happen.
Sometimes, you wake up and you are not sure where your life is really going, you have everything you want, well, at least on paper, but there is something missing. My husband and I found ourselves with a wicked amount of vacation time, a condo that the owner wanted to sell, and a city we were no longer in love with. We woke up one morning, and over breakfast my husband looked at me and said “lets find ourselves.” I was a little shocked – “what?” So, with one month, we packed up the whole apartment, purged every negative piece of furniture, clothing, horrible thing, put everything in storage, and took off for Europe with our then 18 month old, for 2 months.
Our first destination, Amsterdam. We spent 3 hours on the ground, at the gate, in a hot air-plane, no air-conditioning, exhausted from 2 weeks of moving flat-out, by ourselves, with a toddler. We got onto the air-plane, and everyone around us groaned, they were all upset that we a family were sitting near them. It seemed like we were sleep walking, our little one was running around, keeping everyone around him occupied, only 18 months and it seemed like nothing phased him. When the pilot finally announced that the part that we had been waiting for had been installed, everyone on the place sighed. We were all hot, exhausted and ready for the flight from Vancouver to Amsterdam. The flight was uneventful, well except for the fact that the little man just kept on moving and took forever to fall asleep. When we landed, the older woman behind us praised us for getting through the rough flight with our son without breaking a sweat. We barely made it to the train, not sure of our surroundings. It turned out, the apartment that we rented for a week was in the flower market, it was a tiny one bedroom, cluttered, but endearing. We all looked at the bed and shower trying to figure out which one first. Of course, the shower was the priority. Our little man fell asleep in the shower, and didn’t seem to mind being put in his bed. The glass of wine after our showers was bliss, we made it. Some how we got evicted due to the owner wanting to sell, moved all of our stuff into storage and planned a 2 month trip to Europe to find ourselves, all last-minute. There is something profound and freeing about that. That night we slept like we hadn’t slept in a hundred years. We all woke up and cuddled on the couch and had coffee and milk. It was the first time life stood still and we were living in the moment with our son.