I haven't been in Vancouver for three years...since my oldest's nephew's high school graduation. Three years suddenly feels far too long.
From the time I was a young child, making the annual trek to Vancouver with my family while my Dad did business on route, I have loved this city. Every time I came, I would get out of the car/airport and take one whiff of the fresh, moist air and decide that it smelled like home. Even as a teenager I decided that I would live here some day.
After finishing high school, I did live here for two years attending college, but my education then took me back to my birthplace and then to yet another province. When I got married and we settled down together, we were a long way off from my dreams to be in Vancouver...but we had an understanding that we would someday try to make our home here.
The opportunity came about four years after Geoff and I married. I was working out of Toronto for a national organization (my first HR Management job) and I was offered a transfer to Vancouver. Vancouver!! I was dying to go. But Geoff wasn't quite ready yet. His opinion made me angry at the time; here I had an opportunity for advancement and a move to a city that I'd been wanting to live in for so many years, and his view that he 'just wasn't ready' didn't seem to equate to my sense of urgency. There was more to our conversations than this, but that's how it seemed/felt to me at the time.
Thankfully my employer wasn't ready to give up on me. Three months later I was offered the same opportunity...with a little more pressure, and a little more incentive. This time, it was an offer that we couldn't pass up, and I left for Vancouver shortly thereafter. Geoff followed a few months later. Geoff got a job, coincidentally, about two blocks from where I worked downtown, and for years we commuted together and lived a life that I'd envisioned a long time earlier. I remember so many times walking towards my office smiling to myself, knowing that I was living my dream...at least career- and location-wise. We made some fabulous friends, got involved in a great church, lived on the base of a mountain, and we were a ten minute drive to a lake that looked like a miniature Lake Louise, with mountains rising out of the waters. We loved it.
It was when we finally got pregnant and experienced the miraculous birth of Matthew that our/my perspective began to change. I'd left my employment and had completed my education in Mediation and Conflict Res., and I didn't want to have to go back to full-time work. But with huge mortgage and living costs in the Vancouver area, we knew there would be little choice if we continued to live here - I would need to work full time.
After agonizing for months and months, we made the hard decision. When Matthew was fifteen months old, we left Vancouver and headed back to my home province, where Geoff had never lived but where we hoped to make a home for our child(ren). There we could live on one income if we chose to do that; our mortgage costs would be minimal; and we would be close to my parents as well as my sister and her family.
I've been back to Vancouver a few times in the past seven years since making the move and it's hard (in some ways) to come. Just this morning I walked out of the airport and smelled the air and I thought ahhh - yes, it's still the same. I really do love it here. Not the traffic, to be sure. Nor the distances that must be passed in order to get from one place to the next. But everything else. The temperate climate; the beauty; the scent; the trees and flowers (in February); the lifestyle options.
I still think it is one of the best places on earth.
My home is elsewhere now...with my husband and children. There are good reasons to be where we are; the season is right. We have a good life and I have no regrets. But maybe, with a little bit of me soaring with those gulls I hear even now in the distance, just maybe it can be true that home is also where the heart is.