Living in the States is the 5th country I've lived in on a permanent basis, as in I reside here, I'm not just visiting, which I have done plenty of visiting of other countries. Sometimes I get asked, which country do I like best? I'm not even going to consider the first two where I was a child and had no choice of living there, as I was merely being transported around by my parents.
But the last three have been England, Canada, and now America. I did not originally choose to live in England, my family moved there when I was 13, but at 25 it was my choice to leave England and go to Canada.
It wasn't a choice I made because I didn't like England, it was the promise and excitement of a new adventure, to make my own path, and an invitation from friends to experience life there. The setting of that adventure was Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. You can read previous posts here on this blog for more about that adventure. It lasted for 7 years, and it was beautiful.
At first it was a struggle to get used to the slow pace of life and small town living after coming from a fast paced life in a big city like London. It was quite the contrast. I distinctly remember the first time I was to meet up with a friend at Tim's (Tim Hortons the local coffee shop) and I stopped into Sobeys (local grocery supermarket) to pick up something as I had 15 minutes to spare.
Now in the busyness of London, you could easily run into a supermarket that is crowded with hundreds of shoppers and quickly grab your one item and pay for it and be out of the shop in less than 15 minutes.
Yet, here I was in an almost empty grocery store (supermarket for my British readers), I grab that one item I needed, get to the checkout line (queue) and there was only one person in front of me. "Yay" I think to myself, "I'll be out of here in no time".
Ten minutes later, and I'm still standing there, watching the cashier so slowly ring each item and chat to the person shopping about their day like they were friends who were having a good catch up! And I think "Please let me take those items out of your hands and ring them through myself! You are taking forever and I'm going to be LATE!" (by a couple of minutes which was a big deal to me, because in London time is money and the trains run on a schedule where mere seconds make the difference of catching that train or not. You have to be places on time!)
Eventually, I get out of the store and two minutes later I'm at Tim's waiting for this person to show up and they are NOT on time...it took a while to get used to that, to stop rushing, to learn to take my time, and to realize that everyone takes their time and no one is ever in a rush, and that life is actually not so bad when it moves at a slow pace.
I miss that now, but there were times, that it wasn't easy. When I first moved there, there was only one tiny old movie theatre (cinema), two grocery stores (supermarkets), one Canadian Tire, a couple of Tim Horton's, a very small mall (shopping center) with maybe less than 15 shops (food/phones/books/accessories/pharmacy etc and a few tourist shops on Main Street and a few more little food stores dotted here and there in the more remote areas outside of town. In the time that I was there, they built a new cinema, opened a Walmart, and a Bulk Barn which were great, but it still felt like such a small town. If you really wanted to go Christmas shopping, people drove for three hours to Halifax (the capital of Nova Scotia and more like a little city). That was normal for people, but for me at times, I found it boring and longed to live somewhere where there was more to do. It truly was such a beautiful place but sometimes it was lonely if you were single and had no family. It took about 4 years to establish good friendships and my friends were super good about being inclusive and introducing me to their friends etc so that by the time I left another 3 years later, I left a lot of friends behind.
What I took for granted were the beautiful lakes all around*, the beautiful clean sandy beaches, and the friendliness of the local people. I think if I had moved there with a family in tow, I would've never left. It is the perfect place to raise a family, no crime, hardly any cars on the road, and everyone knew everyone. In seven years of living there, no one locked their doors to either their house or their car. I miss that! There was always time to visit with friends and pop in unannounced for a cup of tea, just because you were driving by!
*(well I didn't really take the view of the lakes for granted, because I do remember every single day looking at the water and thinking 'how beautiful' and I absolutely loved looking at those lakes - but when I was wishing I was living somewhere with more happening, I wouldn't remind myself of the beauty of those lakes, so in that way I took them for granted).
I wanted to stay there indefinitely but then I met my now husband through a mutual friend. The only problem was that he lived in America. I had no secure job in Canada and he has a job he loves here, so it seemed like I would have to move again and so I did.
On one level it seemed like this is the best move, because you still have the beaches (although much more crowded than Canada), more people, so more shops and more things to do, so life would not ever be lonely, but in reality here I am three years later, with a husband and two kids, that yes keep me busy, but now I miss all those good friends I had in Nova Scotia.
Being at home with the kids limits the people I meet, and the faster pace of life here means that everyone is SO busy, so even the handful of friends that I do have, are so constantly busy with their families and their already established circle of friends, that it is so hard to have time to spend together. Like it literally takes two months for us to get together with another family for a meal. So on one level there is more to do and more people here, but on another level, it is more lonely to live here and makes me miss my family in England.
I know that once the kids are older and get into school and when I get a job, I might feel differently, and that every season has it's struggles, but the main point of this post it to say that while I'm here now in this season, I am realizing that 'The grass is always greener on the other side!' and that instead of taking for granted the good things around me, I need to learn to enjoy the moment I'm in and to appreciate what is around me, that perhaps I would miss, if I was to ever move again.
So tonight, when my husband came home, we went to the beach! It was our first time going to the beach since my second child was born, I can't believe it took this long! Baby's over a year old and only today gets to experience going to the beach. We had such a beautiful time, both kids had a blast. So let's hope we'll do this more often and enjoy this privilege we have to live so close to such beautiful beaches and such gorgeous hot weather and may we watch more sunsets together and more moon risings! The moon was so pretty tonight :)