Is the grass really greener?
With all the grad stuff going on right now, I often get nostalgic at this time of year for good old 1992, the year of my own grad. Like a lot of my classmates, I could not wait to blow this joint called Rossland so I could munch on the greener, tastier grasses of places like Vancouver, Kelowna, Victoria and other cities that were, to be blunt, not here.
As a teenager, I had a pretty low opinion of this town: too small, not cool enough, not enough to do, not enough happening, not enough XYZ. Rossland was a place where I felt isolated and I was absolutely positive that being here was causing me to miss out on the magnificence that was the “real world.” I couldn’t relate to people here, and I often had a pretty low opinion of people who had stayed and never left. I was desperate to leave and never look back. In fact, when I finally did leave, I swore I’d never live here again.
Despite my desperation to get out of town, it took a couple of years to pull it off. Instead of immediately going on to university, I spent two years working and taking a few classes at Selkirk in Castlegar. In retrospect, I needed the time to figure out exactly what I wanted to do, and leaving just to escape seemed a little rash.
In the end, I went to UVic and took Creative Writing and Greek & Roman Studies. I spent four years in Victoria and loved it so much I was even more resolved to never come back to Rossland. I loved the climate! There was variety, and life, and the elusive “stuff to do.” Not to mention, there was the sense of anonymity that one often gets when living in a big city.
But, as much as I loved Victoria, the grass is always greener, right? So off I went to Ottawa, where there is not only grass, but tulips! Unfortunately, I hated it there, even though I stayed seven years. After that, I moved to Vancouver, where the grass is always green (when you can find it amongst the concrete and highways), and then back again to Victoria.
Then eventually, in 2006, after swearing 12 years previously I’d never live here again, I moved back to Rossland. Let’s just say it’s a long story, but it was the lesser of two evils, and it was a very agonizing decision.
Now, before you think this is going to turn into one of those “I hated it when I was a kid but have seen the light and now I think Rossland is paradise” stories, think again. I am very ambivalent about Rossland, and if this town didn’t have what I need (proximity to family and access to medical services I require being the main two) I probably would have hightailed it long ago. But four years is a lot of time to mellow out, and it’s a lot of time to reflect upon all the different grasses I’ve eaten. Is the best grass in Rossland? I don’t think so. But the grass in Ottawa left a bitter taste in my mouth. Victoria’s grass didn’t taste the same the second time around; too much had changed. Vancouver had great grass, but a lot of other stuff I didn’t want, like traffic congestion, high rent, and air, noise, and light pollution.
So if the best grass for me isn’t here, why do I stay?
I don’t ski, I don’t mountain bike, and I am not fond of the winters or even snow. I enjoy a bit of variety when it comes to simple things like grocery shopping and restaurants. And sue me, I’m a woman, and I enjoy shopping.
But I love that I can see the stars at night, something I never realized I missed until I moved back. I love the forest sitting right outside my door, also something I never realized I missed. I love that we have bears here; so many people I know think that’s the coolest thing ever, though they think I’m crazy to go hiking around here. I love that everything is a 10 minute walk from where I live and I don’t have to wait at a bus stop in -30C weather waiting for a bus that never comes. And most importantly I love that my family is no further away than next door, or a few blocks away. It may not be the sweetest grass ever, but these things make it more palatable than anywhere else I’ve been.