Well, it's official, and I can now come right out and announce to you all that I've moved from the dismal, depressing rainforests of coastal BC to the alternately frigid and scorching wastelands of central Alberta. Despite the vagaries of the climate here (mosquitoes, how I loathe you), and the fact that I now have to contend with actual traffic (where I was before, well, we didn't even have a four-way stop sign in town, and if there was a single car within sight on the highway, I was cursing about having to deal with jerks who don't know how to drive), I am so very pleased with the move, because:
1) my parents are here, and they're the most pitch-inny parents ever. They help with the kids, with the housework, with the shopping, with lugging heavy stuff, with reminding me to do important things (I'm a chronic forgetter). They offer to take the kids places like McDonalds or the mall. If I need someone to stay overnight with them, or pick them up from school because I'm delayed at work, well, all I need to do is phone. I have promised myself I will not abuse this privilege, but it's soooooo tempting. Plus, they love me and they're nice to me and they're the kind of parents you can actually talk to about stuff without feeling judged. Mom and dad, you are totally, totally blammo.
2) my sister is here. I don't see her as often as I see my parents, because she has her own blended family to take care of, but the two of us installed a new toilet in the downstairs bathroom the other day and it went perfectly. Go team! I'm renting a townhouse she owns, and she's letting me have it at a huge discount to help me out, because that's what sisters do. And it's just really nice to be able to hang with her and talk to her about...sister things. Sis, you're some serious awesome.
3) I'll get to see my other sister (and her awesome hubby and kids) more often. They live way the eff across the country, but they certainly come out here more often than they ever managed to make their way to the sopping, isolated reaches of Middleofnowhereland, BC. She's also totally blammo, IMO, but I expect she knows that, lol. Can't wait to see her!
4) Sunday family dinners. I often hear people bemoaning such obligations as the big weekly or monthly family get-together, and sure, my own family is far from perfect. But after 16 years away from "home", I now revel in the assorted kookiness (my uncle still asks me what I learned in school today when I walk in the door, heh) that is my extended family. In a couple of months, I hope to have my house sorted out enough to host a dinner of my own, yay!
5) my kids get to go to schools that offer things like actual computer graphics courses (with computers that run more recent versions of Windows than 98), IB programs, and advance placement. When they're done high school, they might even get to go to college, too, because there are several within public transit distance--had we stayed where we were, they'd have had to live on campus, which we'd never be able to afford.
6) there is fast food. One of my friends from back in Middleofnowhereland, BC told me once, "I would kill a thousand cows for one bucket of KFC," and well...yeah. But now I don't have to kill any cows, or drive two hours to get my fix of the Colonel's eleven herbs and spices, or the drugs he puts in it to make you "crave it fortnightly"*. I can just drive three minutes and I'm elbows-deep in a bucket of original recipe, yay! And if I have pizza delivered, it doesn't cost me the shirt on my back, either.
7) there is work. Oh, there is lots of it. And it's lucrative. Even when business is slow, I'm earning what I earned on a typical "good night" at my old job. When it's busy? Double that. Or triple it. And if, heaven forefend, I decide I don't like this job? There's another one just down the block.
8) there are big box stores. Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Superstore, OMG Ikea. And freaking Costco. There are two Costcos I can shop at--one five minutes away from my home, and another just a few blocks from work. And malls with actual clothing stores, not just those crappy discount chains or the ubiquitous small town boutique where a pair of jeans will cost you your firstborn son.
9) dating options. In an isolated town of only 3000, well, the women hang onto their men because they know 99% of the local single guys of an appropriate age are likely gay (closeted or not), players, assholes, or weirdoes with more guns and dogs than teeth. Here, there are lots of single men, hence lots of women who think the grass is greener and ditch the good ones because they slurp their soup, or won't buy them a new flatscreen TV, or don't earn $100k/year or whatever. And yeah, I'm sure there are plenty of closeted gays, assholes, players and weirdoes, but hey, at least the pool is bigger.
10) I get to wear sunglasses. In fact, I have to wear sunglasses, because there is this thing in the sky (maybe you've heard of it? It's big and yellow and I've been told not to look directly at it) and it comes out more than every 15 days or so. Even in the winter!
11) no provincial sales tax (or more recently, the dreaded and much-maligned "BC Harmonized Sales Tax"). This makes everything from gas to shoes to light bulbs cheaper than they are where I used to live. And the fact that I'm now in an urban area instead of way the heck in the sticks, well, I didn't quite realize how much more we paid for things like milk and bread just because we lived so far from anywhere big. My grocery bills will likely be $2-300/month less just because of the move.
12) competition. From gas stations to cable/phone/internet providors to food stores to restaurants to schools, there are no monopolies here. That means better service for less money in almost every instance.
Yeah, it was hard saying goodbye to my friends (because they're some of the best people ever), and I was even saddened at the thought of never going back to sling chow mein at my old job (as thankless and frustrating as it often was). There were things about living in a small town that I absolutely adored. But I'm still so freaking happy with this move, and the kids seem to be settling in fine. There are things they miss about their old home, but there are things they love about where we are now, too, and the adjustment has gone even smoother than I could have hoped.
I just long for the day when the novelty of the escalator at the mall eventually wears off. I feel kind of like a tool taking Blammo up and down that thing several times just for fun whenever we go, even if I secretly find it kind of fun myself...
*from "So I Married an Axe Murderer", and still one of my favorite lines from any Mike Meyers movie. It's funny because it's true.