In less than four days I’ll be heading to the Winnipeg airport, possibly for the last time in my life. Over the past month my thoughts have primarily been about my new life, my new man, and my new city of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. But in this last week I’ve become increasingly aware that I am also leaving a city that has been my home for over fourteen years.
Winnipeg isn’t where I lived as a child; that would be Edmonton, Alberta. In 2001, when I was 24 years old, I chose to move to Winnipeg. I didn’t know a single person here. But I got a job and headed to this new province, 1300 kilometers from my original home. It was a big step at the time. I needed some distance from Edmonton and I needed a change and a challenge. It proved to be a great decision. Moving alone like that helped me realize how much I was capable of accomplishing.
Now after spending the majority of my adult life here, it’s time to move on. Winnipeg has been very good to me. It’s the first place where I had good friends, a community, where I felt at home as an adult. I’ve had a lot of opportunities here that I don’t think I would have had in Edmonton. I’ve learned a lot, too. And now I am leaving it, possibly to never come back. That thought still feels surreal. I’m not sure how long it will take to fully sink in.
I like a lot of things about Winnipeg: I like the pace. I like the attitude of the people. I like the diversity – racially, culturally, socio-economically. Winnipeg is a city of contrasts — there are many historic buildings, and they are often next to shiny new architectural marvels. There are the rich districts, full of mansions (where I love to walk) and the lower income neighbourhoods, full of character (where I love to live).
When I first came to Winnipeg it was April – everything was grey (although with no snow). There’s something I always liked about the dreariness of the city in certain seasons.
And then in the summer Winnipeg comes to life. It is lush and humid and green. Summers are quite a lot warmer than in Edmonton.
What won’t I miss? Mostly just the flatness. Yellowknife has some very small hills, but compared to Winnipeg it is almost mountainous.
Winnipeg is also a little bigger than I consider ideal. I haven’t lived in a smaller city before, and am looking forward to seeing what that is like.
Winnipeg is not only my city, my place, it was my chosen city. Several times I could have moved elsewhere and each time it made more sense to stay. Now, I have made the decision to leave. I don’t regret my decision, but it is certainly not without melancholy that I move on. Every time I go somewhere now I wonder if it is the last time I will ever see it — Old St. Boniface, the Exchange District, Assiniboine Park, the Forks, Tuxedo, River Heights, and of course, my favourite home district, the “West End” (which I will see last on my cab ride to the airport).
Ideally I will be back in Winnipeg one day. But if I’ve learned anything here, it is that life can change in an instant. So I bid farewell to Winnipeg. Thank you. It’s been great. This city is truly my Canadian home.