Monday, September 02, 2013

Eight years

I've actually had this post sitting in the queue for about a week or so, just been too lazy to edit and publish it, which has to be a record for sloth. Anyway, some thoughts on the 8th anniversary of out time in Iqaluit....

So August 24th marks, as best as I can recall, the eight year anniversary to the day we first set foot in Iqaluit. Now, Cathy had a year in Rankin Inlet before moving here and she also had spent a few days here as part of a teacher conference, so it wasn’t a shock to her. But it was our first time here together and it wasn’t for a visit, it was to come here to live and work.

I believe my reaction, after leaving the airport was “oh my fucking God, what have you gotten us into, Cathy?” I have seen many other people have similar reactions when they first arrive in Iqaluit, so I’m glad I’m not the only one to have ever had that reaction.

Nunavut can be like that to people when you first arrive. You can be good and do your research, talk to people, read articles and look at photos. But if you’re moving here, nothing really prepares you for that first shock of stepping foot into the place. There’s more than one story of people getting off a plane, taking a look around and going “nope” and getting the next flight back south.

Then again, there are also lots of people who come here for a three month contract and have been here for 20 years. It all depends. As I have cautioned many people who have emailed me over the years. It’s not for everybody, but if it turns out it is for you, it’s a fantastic place.

We came to Iqaluit on a five year plan and we’re going into year nine of that plan right now with no end in sight. Are there things that drive me nuts about Iqaluit? Oh God, yes. I could rattle of an extensive list of things, from the crap internet to the lack of basic stuff you take for granted down south. My latest one? I can’t paint the deck of our house. There are two hardware stores in town. One doesn’t carry deck paint and the other is going bankrupt so they didn’t bother to bring in any new paint supplies. And we forgot to get paint during our sealift. That means we have to wait to paint the deck until next summer.

Or how about the airlines putting up a “seat sale” recently. Iqaluit to Ottawa for only $1,600. That frustrated me enough that I took to Twitter and begged WestJet to start flying here. They responded we’re on their wish list, so one can only hope.

And that list can go on and on.  But here’s the thing, that can be said of any place you live. If we were still in St. John’s I would be complaining about that damn stupid harbor fence, bayman drivers, Stavanger Drive and a desperate and doomed provincial government on its last gasp. I lived in Clarenville for three years, a place about the size of Iqaluit, and I complained about the lack of book store, crap drivers and that the mayor was obviously crazy.

You will always find things to complain about in any place you choose to live. And you won’t have to search hard for it either.

Yet, there is plenty to love about the place. Iqaluit is honestly beautiful during the winter. Even with the population growth in town, there’s a nice sense of community here. I get to experience a unique culture and language without leaving Canada. When we move away (I’m not living here in my retirement, sorry) I genuinely will miss the view of Frobisher Bay from my living room window. It's the best view I've ever had of any place I've lived, and I used to have a view of the Narrows when I lived in downtown St. John's.

We do miss our family and friends. Cathy will testify that I was pretty depressed for a couple of weeks after a wedding in Kingston this summer with most of my closest friends in attendance. There is something that gets to me knowing it can be years in-between seeing some of these people. But if we ask ourselves if we would have been any better off eight years ago if he had decided to stay in St. John’s rather than come here, I don’t think we would be. Not even remotely.

So here's to eight years (nine for Cathy) in Nunavut with no end in sight. 

Last Five
1. Not fair - Lily Allen* 
2. 500 up - Sloan
3. Open arms - Tracy Chapman
4. Lunge forward - Wavves
5. Lucinda/Aint goin' down (live) - Tom Waits


John, Perth AU said...

Sounds like a campaign speech to me. You'd have my vote, if it were legal.

By the way, after next week I'll be signing as "John, Canberra AU", after twenty-four years (off and on) in Perth. They have lows just below freezing in Canberra during the winter. No snow, though. Maybe we'll think more alike in the future.

Matthew & Michele said...

Michele and I are only a couple of months away from starting our 8th year.

Paul Andrew Russell said...

I'm a Brit who moved to St John's in 2003 and moved back home in 2012. It is a stunningly beautiful place, and I must admit, I miss the scenery daily. Like you say, we can always find something to complain about, wherever we live. I hated shovelling the snow. lol

However, the people were friendly, generous and welcoming. There are many I miss. I'm back home among relatives now, and have made new friends and re-connected with old ones.

We never know where life will lead us, but as long as we love, live and give thanks for each and every blessing we will be okay. There are worse places in the world to live.