Saturday, April 13, 2013

New Start, Revisited

If you slip and land on your head you can cross here? Upside down people permitted?

The process of making Iqaluit home has been slower than I would have liked. This can probably be explained, at least in part, by the fact that it is hard to make friends, settle into a new apartment, and to adjust to a new office and life when traveling so much. Since arriving here in November, I’ve been on four circuits and I’ve traveled to Ontario three times. I added it up and it comes to about 11 weeks away.  That’s almost three months out of five that I've been gone.

I’m really missing that feeling of connection to place.  Ottawa was where I was born and grew up, and where my mom, brothers and many of my friends live. However, Ottawa hasn’t been my home since 2004. And even then, I only moved back for three years so that I could go to law school. Ottawa really hasn’t been my real home since 1996 when I first moved to Toronto.

Toronto was my home for quite a long time.  I used to own an adorable 1920s house in a great little neighbourhood near Coxwell and Danforth.  It was a wonderful place to raise my family.  But when my nest emptied, it was time to move on.  I haven’t lived in Toronto since August, 2010. Even though my daughters and some of my other favourite people call Toronto home, whenever I visit, the city isn’t really mine anymore. Maybe because I haven’t completely decided yet whether I’m ever moving back.

Even though I lived in Cambridge Bay for more than two years, it never really felt like home to me. For a lot of small town nonsense reasons, and because I missed my family and couldn’t see them often enough to remain truly happy for very long there, it was always just somewhere that I stayed as a long-term visitor. Sometimes I was a very happy visitor though.  I became friends with some really wonderful people. And if I hadn't lived in Cam Bay, I would never have discovered how much I love  fishing and ATVing. I'm really going to miss that this summer.

My contract to work in Iqaluit runs until September 2014, another 17 months.  That could seem like I have a long time left before I start making decisions, but it isn’t really. I’ve already been living in Nunavut for much longer than that without having come to any conclusions about what I want to do or where I want to be next.

If I go back to Ontario, I have no idea where I’d want to live. At this point I’m not entirely sure if I’ll go back to living in Ontario when my contract is done.  Maybe I will eventually love Iqaluit so much that I will decide to make a life here.  But for the love to happen, I really need to try harder to settle in, make friends, participate in life etc. Or, as they say, take off my coat, stay a while.  Stay for more two weeks at a stretch anyway.

Next stop, Ottawa and Sanikiluaq. I leave in a week. I'll try to do better in May.

Iqaluit, and me.

Take Me To The Riot - Stars
Rococo - Arcade Fire


  1. Hi Tamara,
    how hard is it to make friend and acclimate to Iqaluit? I'm coming up from Ottawa in July and am a little nervous because nearly every blog I have read features young/couples/teachers. I imagine they bring their own support systems in the seat next to them or fit into a supportive peer group at work. I'd appreciate your thoughts on how one thrives up north when one is travelling light and flying solo.

    Geoff Johnston

  2. Hi Geoff,
    I'm not sure if I'm the best person to ask. I didn't come here alone and I travel quite a bit. Having any kind of social life hasn't happened quickly for me. Everyone's situation is different. I think it just takes time. Iqaluit is not an unfriendly place.

    1. Thanks, Tamara.
      I'm looking forward to living there now that I've escaped the dreaded work cubicle. Friends have given me movies and close friends have given me cookbooks. I'm sealift shopping this week and should be arriving mid-August, so I'll have some time to settle in before the snow arrives.