The people, the music, the potato skins.

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Two smiling faces greeted us next to baggage claim, and we soon found ourselves pulled into hugs, talking about time spent apart, how the days between when we’d seen each other last and then had been. It was late, and the day of travelling had been long and fraught with delays, miscommunications, and turbulence, but it felt good to be back home. Back in Victoria.

No, you didn’t read that wrong. I said Victoria, and I meant Victoria. Victoria is where home is.

Our friends, Pete and Kim, picked us up from the airport very late at night when Brad and I arrived home from our trip to Halifax for the holidays. It was so wonderful to see friendly faces after an absolutely bananas day of travelling, and comforting to be back in our city. The four of us talked of our Christmas holidays as they drove us to our home, and while some of the tales were bittersweet (my last Christmas in the house that I grew up in, Brad’s grandparents not doing so fantastically health wise) it felt so good to be home.

Since I moved to Victoria two years ago, I’ve still thought of Halifax as home. That’s where I was born and raised, that’s where the majority of my family and a lot of my friends are, that’s where I had a life for twenty-eight years. But after this particular trip to Halifax, I realized that it’s not really my home anymore. Yes, it’s still a wonderful place, yes, it’s I was born and grew up, made a lot of memories with a lot of people that I care about, but it’s not home.

While I was in Halifax, I missed Victoria a lot. I missed my friends here, I missed my home and bed, I missed the places that I go, I missed my life. Two weeks is a long time to basically put your life on hold. And while we were happy to do it, and happy to see friends and family and spend the holidays with them, something was nagging on me the entire time.

Brad and I didn’t have a whole lot of time to ourselves. Most of our time was spent with family and a few outings with friends. And though we didn’t run ourselves stupid like we did last year, we managed only one day where we went into Halifax proper to check out some of our old stomping grounds. During that time, I realized that I didn’t really miss Halifax all that much. There were a lot of things about being there that bothered me – the state of the downtown core, the transit, the fact that so many of my friends are struggling to find work, or struggling in the work that they currently do. Quite frankly, being in Halifax for the holidays broke my heart a little. Had it always been like this and I’d just never realized? Had I become one of those people who went away and came back only to scoff at how different it all is? I think it’s far to say, it’s probably a bit of both. I never wanted to be one of those people who left and changed their attitude on the place that they grew up, but there’s a reason that it happens. It would be foolish to assume that living somewhere else for a little bit wouldn’t change someone’s perspective. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just shifts the way you think about your hometown – you look at it through different eyes. Sometimes you need to.

That’s not to say that we didn’t have fun the two weeks that we were in Halifax. My goodness, we had a blast! We spent a lot of time with our families, something that we didn’t do much of last year because we were running around trying to see everyone. We took a more relaxed approach this year, and it paid off. We had nights out with some of our best friends, we went to a hockey game, we got to watch the nephew open gifts only to be more enthralled with the tissue paper, got to see some snow, and relaxed a lot. It was a wonderful holiday, and everything that I could’ve wanted.

Halifax had served its purpose in my life. And while I’ll never say never, I don’t see myself living there again anytime soon. I used to entertain the idea of it, but now I really can’t see it happening. Aside from friends and family, there’s not much there for me anymore. And there will soon be even less, with my parents and sister moving to PEI this coming summer.

I’ve felt ever since I moved to Victoria, that I fit in better here. Though I definitely feel like an East Coast girl most of the time (especially when West Coasters make fun of how I pronounce “bar”), I feel like right now in my life, Victoria is where I belong. Any place ends up being what you make of it, and almost despite myself, I’ve made Victoria home these past two years.

I miss the people, the music, and the potato skins, but I don’t necessarily miss Halifax. I didn’t cry at the airport when saying goodbye to my parents as we got in line for security. Though I chalk most of this up to the fact that I was far too stressed to be sad (the airport was an absolutely gong show that morning and we spent an hour in a line to confirm our booking after it had been changed that morning). I haven’t had a massive bout of homesickness like I did this time last year, where I fell into a depressive episode and struggled to feel like myself again. I don’t suspect that I will this year. The novelty of Halifax has worn off for me. And though I still miss my family and friends deeply, I am so excited for the life that I have in my new home.

I always worried that anywhere I lived other than Halifax would never quite feel right, or feel like home. But now I realize that any place is what you make of it, and I’ve made Victoria my home, so that’s how it feels. It feels right here. It feels like home.

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Holding My Breath.

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Working in schools has taught me of a fear that previous to seven years ago, I hadn’t really given much in the way of thought to.

It doesn’t happen as much in Canada as it does in the States (you know what I’m talking about), but I am always acutely aware of the dangers of working in academia. It doesn’t matter that it “doesn’t happen here,” there could be a day when it does, and it’s something that is always in the back of my mind, and ingrained in the way I handle situations or view things happening in my vicinity. What a world we live in where I feel the need to constantly be on alert for one reason or another.

My office traps me. I love the space I’m creating in it for myself (I’m still personalizing it after almost six months of working in it), but I am blocked in by a large desk that wraps around me at both sides, with the door more than five feet away. The window behind me doesn’t open all of the way. I’m slim, but I don’t think I can fit through it. I wonder if the space under my desk will protect me from bullets.

The other day, the professor that sits across the hall from me had an angry parent who wanted to speak with them. Voices were never raised, and it didn’t escalate to a point where I ever truly felt that anyone was in danger, but the parent wouldn’t leave, campus security was called, and the entire time I wondered “what if.” The entire time I wondered what I should do. I opted for keeping my door open, and observing and listening to all that I could, just in case something happened so that I would be ready, so that if someone asked me for some reason at a later date what happened that I would be able to answer assuredly.

More than hour after the man was escorted off campus, and there was still a strange knot in my stomach, and lump in my throat, and a heartbeat that wouldn’t settle.

I’ve been to training sessions and meetings since I began working on this campus shortly after I moved to Victoria almost two years ago. What to do in the event of an earthquake (new to me, as it’s not something that happens on the East Coast), how to interact with students who are agitated, what to do when you feel threatened by a student, staff member, or a member of the public, what to do when a situation escalates and becomes violent.

I am glad that I’ve had this training, though I am loathe to think that it’s deemed necessary this day and age.

With the recent attacks in France, Lebanon, Egypt, and Bangladesh, the world feels a little less safe. While out with Brad and a friend the other day, wandering through parts of populated tourist spots of downtown Victoria, I couldn’t help but wonder “what if,” even further. Canada is not immune to these attacks, and it’s a wonder that it hasn’t happened in my country yet on a grander scale than it already has (let us not forget of Nathan Cirillo and the ultimate sacrifice that he made). My heart breaks for the victims in these recent attacks and their families. I can’t even put into words the sadness that I feel, but my heart physically aches.

I don’t let it consume me, but every once in a while I feel frightened of the world that I live in. When I was younger, I used to believe that we were closer to peace than we ever have been. And perhaps we are, and that is mired in what a select few would sooner do to innocent people. There is a certain amount of “alertness” that one needs to possess as a woman, so often when we “dare” to venture out alone we’re made to feel unsafe, but sometimes it all just feels like too much. I’m not immune to feeling a little bit on edge. I feel I’ve spent far too many moments of my life holding my breath, waiting for the moment to pass.

Sometimes, all I want is to breathe a little easier.

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The Dream of the 90s is alive in Portland!

008In July, Brad and I took a mini vacation to Portland! We had wanted to go earlier in the year when The Replacements were playing, but their show there was sold out. Brad kept talking about wanting to take me to Portland because he was sure that I would love it. So, when we found out that one of our favourite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, was doing a show there, we certainly couldn’t pass up the opportunity!

001A gorgeous view from the plane. Brad was tasked with taking this photo, as sometimes I find it extremely difficult to look out of airplane windows.

002SO. MANY. FOOD TRUCKS. Lamentably, we didn’t get to partake in any of them. Portland, lovely as it was, kept a temperature of 40°C the entire time that we were there. Suffice to say, we spent a lot of time indoors, and I was a sweaty Megan.

003I basically want to live there.

004“You’re taking my photo while we look at menus? That’s such a tourist thing!”

005Beer. Om nom nom.11703569_10153480679682416_7295349893894701641_o

00611850736_10153480679782416_4745446960306023038_oI’m not much of a coffee fan, but Brad certainly is! Thankfully, they had tea. Although I forgot that it was “American iced tea,” and not “Canadian iced tea.” 00711807135_10153480681112416_9080403722888820467_oHey, I know some of those places!

11807331_10153480680047416_7650251459340174911_o11816349_10153480681117416_5041893241827996212_o 009On our second day in Portland, we went to the zoo! Naturally, it was the hottest day while we were there. A lot of the animals were sleepy and not doing much. I can’t say that I blame them.

010I’ve come to the conclusion that bears are basically big, dumb dogs.
11834767_10153480680402416_4504422533897711220_o 011Okay, seeing real live elephants was amazing. But equally, if not more amazing. was this elderly Southern woman standing next to us who declared “I ain’t never seen no elephants before!” Oh my god, she was darling.

012 013The main event! I unfortunately didn’t get any pictures from the show, as there were no cameras allowed. But Jim was absolutely hilarious, and retold his famed Hot Pocket bit.

014A blurry photo of Brad and I in the Alrene Schnitzer Concert Hall. :) 015Happy travellers!

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Brad thinking about his true love … pizza. ;)