18 years ago today, I loaded a bunch of stuff into the back of a Jeep Cherokee, picked my mother up at the house that I grew up in for most of my life and head west to Vancouver. I was 29. I had a job with an online lottery startup in Toronto that wasn’t going anywhere and my then girlfriend (soon to be wife) had a job in Vancouver. My mother and I arrived in Vancouver on Christmas day after three and a half days of driving. I highly recommend you take at least six days if you ever decide to to it.
18 years later, I’m sitting in Kelowna, where I moved a couple of years ago, getting read to head “back east” as the saying goes here. How we got here is an interesting story, though I won’t dig too deeply here. But there are some things that need to be said.
18 years is a long time anywhere, and Vancouver’s as much home to me as Toronto was. I never embraced or particularly enjoyed the hatred that people in Vancouver have for Toronto–it’s part of what makes Vancouver feel smaller than it is. It’s a great city, and I loved living there, and I never even minded the rain for the most part (though on my last visit the city I could have done without two days of torrential downpour.) Vancouver–be yourself. You’ll be better off if you focus on that than on comparing yourself to other cities. I’m not sure this will ever change–I’ve been waiting for 18 years.
Vancouver is home. I feel like I found me when I was there. I got married, and quickly divorced. I learned to fall in love again (and again,) I hiked trails and mountains, I camped at the feet of glaciers, I rode my bike to more most days for several years, I became a well regarded and well respected music journalist and photographer, I started writing code and building software again, I worked for small startup after small startup, and I made fantastic friends.
That last part is the most important: I made fantastic friends. Work is work, but many things in life are more important than that. Those friends are one of those things.
I owe Vancouver, but mostly I owe the people I knew there, so much that it’s hard to sum it up. If I name people I’ll surely forget someone so I’m not going to do that. On the work front my time at Global Relay, Zafin, and Payfirma were particularly rewarding and I owe a debt of gratitude to all of those people, as well as my friends at Salesforce that’s hard to explain. Life is good.
It’s time to leave, and I’m looking forward to making Toronto home again. There are friends there–some of whom I’ve known for 40 years–and new ones to be made. I expect the next few years of life to be even more interesting than the last few–and that’s saying something, because if my life is one thing it’s always interesting.
See you all in the city. It’s going to be great.