Gate 56. I am sitting at the Edmonton airport waiting for my flight to London. I’ve sat on these stiff green seats so many times before. On my way to India that summer between undergrad and law school. Countless trips between Edmonton and Vancouver. That time my brother and I met my parents in Italy and Turkey.
On the way to the airport this evening, my mom remarked that my trip to Tanzania would be almost like time traveling. I leave Edmonton on Tuesday evening and wake up in London on Wednesday afternoon. I leave London on Wednesday evening and wake up in Nairobi on Thursday morning. Two days and a whole world from now I will be in Tanzania.
The past week has also been like traveling through time. Goodbyes are kind of like that. My last few days in Vancouver consisted of reminiscing with good friends over good food. Remember that time in law school when we stayed up way too late studying and ate too much sushi? And KC started reading out inspirational quotes to get us through the night? And remember that time during articles when we both had that horrible week and we went to Joe Fortes and ordered champagne and crab? Remember when we ran that half-marathon in Victoria? Remember our bike ride through Sierra Leone? I can’t believe we did that.
And then I was in Edmonton and it was time for more goodbyes. My first morning, I met an old friend for breakfast near the UofA campus. It had been a long time since I’d been on that campus and for a moment it was almost like it was ten years ago and I was just starting my undergrad. Crisp sun. Fall leaves. The excitement of new beginnings.
There were more shared memories with family and more friends over still more food. Remember when we all met in that women’s studies class? And that time we had that meeting with the dean of students and convinced him that we were right? Well maybe we didn’t really convince him but things still went our way. And remember making those banners in my garage that cold winter afternoon? And then we hung them in the SUB. Where are those pictures?
Good people and good times in both cities.
Goodbye Vancouver, goodbye Edmonton. Until we meet again.
I’m moving to Tanzania in September. I’ve said it out loud more than a few times now. To my family on a rainy morning a few minutes after I got the news. To friends over brunch in a crowded restaurant. To an acquaintance I ran into on the street last week. To myself. It still doesn’t quite feel real.
In mid-September, I will be moving 15,000 kilometres away from my home(s) in Vancouver and Edmonton to work with the Women’s Legal Aid Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember but was always afraid to pursue. It will mean a series of hard goodbyes – to my family and friends and the life I’ve built in Vancouver.
I’ve always been fearful of change and uncertainty, and I don’t think I surprised anyone more than myself when I announced that I was quitting my job and moving to Tanzania.
Earlier this year, when my grandfather lay in a hospital bed dying, in and out of clarity, he took me aside and told me that he had lived a full life and that he had no regrets and that everything had unfolded for him exactly as it was supposed to. I think often about the beauty in those words, and about how much more powerful they are than the sadness of his death.
I gathered his words around me and pulled them close when I made the decision to take the job.
Hafiz, the Iranian poet, puts it this way: fear is the cheapest room in the house. / I would like to see you living / In better conditions.
So, the hard part is (mostly) done and I am left with the next month to pack up and sell my belongings and get ready to move half way around the world.