This was a huge move for me emotionally. It is one thing to up and move one’s family because of work since it is employment we are sure of and employment that pays the monthly expenses of providing for a family. Who cares how disruptive a move may be in that sense because at the end of the day there is still an income there to pay the bills. But, moving to finish a degree – to another province – when we had six children to care for – without any income in place to support us. That’s bordering on irresponsible. How selfish of me, I have often thought, and most certainly was thinking it during this move. How selfish of me to have my entire family uproot their lives, give away over half of their possessions in order to go with their dad to the middle of the prairies so he could finish his degree. What the hell type of egocentric bastard was he anyway?
The children were good about the move for the most part – or perhaps my wife was good about keeping the children’s comments away from me during that transitional time. It wasn’t until long after we were settled in this strange land that the children’s bitterness seeped out. That took some years to work through or perhaps it never has been worked through and I just don’t give a shit anymore. Either way, I hardly ever notice any negative comments regarding this epic move now or even back then.
So much was at stake with this move. It was a new beginning at the same time as it was a ceremonial leaving of the past. There was nothing left for me in this valley city. Memories of my dead brother, our dead son, the cult leader, failed jobs and careers, broken churches, broken relationships, life-threats by business leaders, and now even our beautiful home permanently scared because of the murder that had just happened. No, this was a stench-filled, rotting cesspool of abandoned dreams and this was my chance to get out once and for all. I needed this opportunity. I needed this new beginning because I was one Sunday away from taking my place at the local bar, drinking whatever was left of my cares away.
And so, with the false start behind us we set out again the next morning, climbing up the long hill out of this valley city and onward to our new home. In the first day we made it to just past that golden city of the prairies, not wanting to stop in yet another place full of unpleasant memories. And now, the next morning we were into the last half of this epic journey, traveling down an unknown highway into an unknown province with no idea what lay ahead. We left a valley home that was in full bloom, the height of spring fully descended upon it, grass getting cut and the winter gear put away. We arrived at our destination to it snowing. Mind you, it wasn’t really going to stick around given that it was a bit warmer out but the psychological damage had already been done and I had not yet gotten out of the moving truck.
The land was flat. And stark. And flat some more. There was no green anywhere, just various shades of brown. Perhaps a bit of yellow thrown in for good measure. It was intimidating to drive through, feeling very, very much alone and afraid. What the hell have I done was all I could think about during the endless hours of bouncing over ill-maintained highway systems that meandered in a relatively straight line for hours after hours after hours with no meaningful destination to arrive to. There was no mountains. No measurable hills. The TV show was right. There was absolutely, unequivocally, nothing to block our view. Of nothing.
We were all ragged by the time the road sign indicated we were getting closer to our destination. It was a small community just outside of a larger city where the school was the main and biggest employer in the community. I had to keep a close eye out on the road signs since if you blinked you may have driven right past the turn off. As I slowed down the moving truck to make the turn I was thankful that the first thing I saw was a gas station as I had been travelling the last hour or so with the gas gauge reading E. I had misread the various road signs over the last several hours, inadvertently driving past several gas stations but dismissing them as only selling diesel fuel because they had a big letter D surrounded by the symbol of a service station gas pump. I had wrongfully concluded that all they served was diesel, making the assumption that the only vehicles that would be using these services would be farm vehicles because what regular fueled vehicles in their right minds would be caught dead in such a place as this.
I had much to learn about this strange new place and unfamiliar road signs would just be the beginning.