We don’t always get the chance to re-visit our past as different people.
When I left Ottawa in 2010 after 6 years, it wasn’t on bad terms. I left to go back to school, to further my education, change my life, give myself more opportunities – all the good stuff.
Okay, so it involved me quitting my job, breaking up with my boyfriend, giving up my first adult, ‘all by myself’ apartment and moving to Toronto for a not very well planned out adventure, but I WAS EXCITED.
I had been extremely comfortable in Ottawa, but it had never been a life plan of mine. It just happened to be where I ended up for college. After that, life just happened and I had that, “I’m not supposed to do what makes me happy, I’m just supposed to do the right thing” mindset.
Boy, have we come a long way. *pats self on back*
When I returned my apartment keys and hopped in the U-haul headed for Toronto, ready for my next adventure, I really felt like I had closed the chapter on Ottawa. No hard feelings, but it was just time.
It’s now 7 years and many adventures later and I suddenly find myself heading back to the city (and job) I left forever ago.
What a trip.
Never in a million years did I ever think I would move back to Ottawa. Never in a million years did I think I would ever go back to my same job. I liked Ottawa and I loved my job, but that chapter was closed. Why go backwards? My future was calling me and that involved London and new surroundings.
Well, you can call me superstitious, or spiritual or just hyper connected to my consciousness, if you are that way inclined, but I’m taking it as a sign that there are things I need to finish, to wrap up, to appreciate.
I had some amazing friends during my years in Ottawa. People I spent my days laughing with, friends who were there for me constantly, showing up through all of my emotions and relationship troubles, early morning work shifts and life questioning late nights.
And I don’t feel like I appreciated them enough.
I loved them, don’t get me wrong. I had the most fun possible and I liked them all a lot and was always happy to be around them. But my limits were less back then. My capacity to understand and feel and share and thank was just at a totally different place.
I would chock the difference now up to a few things – age, being one of them, but mostly travel, which opened my eyes to a world outside of my tiny one. Over time, I made new friends, in a new place, and they are just some of the greatest damn people on the face of this earth (Olá Joana!)
Time is such a funny thing, and I guess I was learning to love and appreciate myself at the same time that I was learning to appreciate and understand my newer friendships. That has been the catalyst that’s helped me see the ways I can now be a better friend to the people who stuck by my side before. What a lesson to learn.
When I was first offered my old job back, my first panicked thought was, but I have no friends in Ottawa. Hours later, an old friend called to chat about old times and how fun it will be to get together with everyone.
Easy for him to say, he still has friends in Ottawa. And yet, slowly but surely, as he mentions the names of the people we spent every second of every work day with…
This person is excited to see you, that person stalked you on Facebook as soon as I told them you were coming back. This person remembers your curly hair, and that person can’t wait to go for drinks.
…it all started coming back. I had friends. They were still around and I wasn’t someone they had pushed out of their minds. I had closed the chapter on them, but they were still welcoming me.
The people of my past made me laugh for days. They filled my heart as much as it was able to be filled. They waited for me after work, they brought me coffee on those sleepy morning shifts in the cold Ontario winters when work started before the sun came up.
We went to concerts and farmers markets. We had Starbucks dates and planned baby showers for friends. We took road trips to Montreal, we had weekends in New York. They offered to take care of my pets so I could travel.
We spent Sundays in the bookstore, rushing between shelves to find each other so we could show off the newest book we were going to buy. We went to festivals in the summer and danced to concerts late at night after spending our afternoons laying on the grass mapping out our futures.
For me, these friends weren’t a part of that future. Not because I didn’t want them to be, but I just didn’t know that you got to take your friends with you when you left. I didn’t know they would still be there and that I got to keep them. Those lessons were a long time coming, but my God I’m glad I get it now.
So now 7 years since leaving the city, I get the opportunity to go back. I get to take all my knowledge and wisdom with me. I get to take my newly learned gratitude and my brighter outlook.
Through understanding myself better these days, I get to understand my friends better and I get to put away the fear that maybe they don’t really like me and maybe they are just bored and maybe they will be happy when I leave.
I get to say I love you and I appreciate you and I’m sorry and you are the best and thank you and your friendship means the world and wow, you are so, so great.
I get to go back in time as a better person and I get to the chance to say THANK YOU FOR GETTING ME THROUGH.
It doesn’t always happen like this, but right now I am so thankful for the chance to travel backwards.