Packing my snow boots


Work called me back for a few days so once again, I’ll be visiting Ottawa.

It’s a funny thing.

When I first moved to Ottawa in 2007, I couldn’t wait to get out and get back to the West coast. Other than morbid fascination, I saw no reason to stay in such an inhospitable place.

Even when I resigned myself to staying a while, I didn’t have much love for it. Next to the glass and metal of Vancouver, Ottawa streetscapes looked old, worn and broken down.

Living in one shabby shared apartment after another, I whiled away the wintry days, wishing I was back home. Walking up and down the streets, to the public library and the grocery store, I couldn’t imagine I’d climb out of the hole the move had put me in.

But over the course of years, new friends, work and heartbreak brought me out of my icy cave. Then, I met someone who wouldn’t break my heart and we finally skipped town.

Today, I live in Vancouver while my phone and keyboard connect me to Ottawa nearly every day. Still, returning physically always brings back memories.

Zipping up and down bilingual elevators, waiting at a snowy bus stop in crowds of the bitter and resigned, walking home along snowy streets between tall brick houses.

The people I met, well dressed and amused or grimly ambitious.

But I came across a quote by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche today:

Self-deception means trying to recreate a past experience again and again, instead of actually having the experience in the present moment. Self-deception needs the idea of evaluation and a very long memory. Thinking back, we feel nostalgic, getting a kick from our memories, but we do not know where we are at this very moment.”

It’s something to think about. Vancouver was my Ottawa once and I suppose it will be again down the line.


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