I always thought I’d leave Nova Scotia. As a child I was the sibling who was more than willing to jet off whenever I had the opportunity—England with my grandparents, Portland, Arizona, Colorado, even Australia for two months the summer before high school began—often to the detriment of my personal relationships, because when you’re young even a month is a lifetime to your friends. But, when it came time I applied only to one local university and despite falling in love with Oregon and being approved to transfer to the University of Oregon in Eugene in my third year, something came up and I opted to stay. After graduating I flirted with the idea of Toronto or Portland or even over seas. I lived with my father in Portland, OR one year for about six months, until my heart ran out and I just had to come home. Because no matter how far I go, this has always been home—the salty ocean air, the fog, the unpredictable rain.
For a long time I was almost apologetic and reminded myself and anyone who would listen that there’s still time, you know. I’m still young and these are the years, we could live anywhere. And when I ran-crashed headlong into the love of my life we always said we’d follow each other, anywhere. For his PhD or if I ended up doing Publishing—we’d set out together, on a moment’s notice. But still, we stayed.
This year has already seen us add to our family in the form of a fluffy, ridiculous collie-retriver-mix, a rescue dog we just fell in love with at first sight. He’s giant and didn’t know how to sit in a car when we first got him—neglected, tied up, probably abused. Now his goofy face brings us joy every single morning. I buy the guy his own damn dog bagels.
In ten days we move into our dream house, in the suburbs and by all accounts it doesn’t look like we’ll ever be leaving. It took me less time than I thought to be OK with this. Nova Scotia isn’t perfect—the job market is small and extremely competitive, qualifications mean next to nothing here. Everything seems to be at least two years behind the rest of the world. Guess what craze has just made it here? Frozen Yogurt. There’s already something like three new stores in the city and more set to open this summer. Way to keep up with the times, guys. We’re an afterthought—lucky if tours make it this far, luckier still if it’s in their prime and not 12-15 years after they made it big. We’re the comeback city, bring us your Backstreet Boys and Bone Thugs N Harmony, please. We’re the market for it. We’ve got nothing else scheduled, so. In a lot of ways our government is backwards, useless, annoying.
But, it’s only ever going to get better here if the young and creative stay. Sure, we can make more money if we leave, and there’s less and less economic perks to sticking close to home (say bye bye graduate tax break) but, at the same time, living here imprints itself on your heart. It’s the same reason a shirt line that simply says East Coast Lifestyle has taken over—we care, we don’t want to leave, we fucking love this place with its tiny hills we ski on and the frigid sea we swim in. We like each other, we tend to treat each other with more kindness you’ll get anywhere else. We’ve got potential.
I’m not saying it’s time to set your adventures on the table, say goodnight and good luck. I’m just saying that when you love something like the way I love this province, you gotta work at it. You gotta make concessions. You gotta keep the good ideas close to home. You gotta dig in your heels. You gotta stay.