Finally the day of his return came. I don’t remember how I occupied myself that day—probably sitting excitedly at my desk and counting the minutes. Then it was time to head downtown. I knew his family would be just as excited to see him as I was so I didn’t expect much time with him, but by a stroke of luck (for me) they were late to the bus station. His bus pulled in and he stepped off, gripped my shoulders, gave me a look I’ll never forget, and kissed me. Then his dad and sisters showed up and we drove off to Langford for dinner and presents and stories. David showered me with gifts and wouldn’t let me leave his sight. It was so nice. I had to work the next day, but after that we spent the remaining bits of summer together every day, non-stop, until school started. Then it was into our last year of university.
The final year of a BA can be very unsettling, as all of a sudden the future looms unknown. We both had to decide what we planned to do after graduation, with the realization that it might mean miles between us. I decided to take time off to see if I really wanted to pursue a graduate degree. David, meanwhile, decided to apply to grad school. I considered my options: move back to Port Alberni, remain in Victoria, move with David to wherever he ended up. I know I prayed and worried a lot about it, but the choice also seemed obvious. I told David that, if he wanted, I’d move with him come September. That affected him more than I thought it would, because to me it seemed to obvious and to him it was so huge. And, that said, we began making plans.
I think some of my family was a little shocked, or at least concerned, that I was considering moving far away from home with a man I wasn’t even engaged too. By this time David and I had already talked about getting married and knew that we would, one day. I, however, at 22 years old was not in a rush—particularly when I did not even know what I wanted to do with my future. I don’t think it helped matters that we were planning to get a two bedroom apartment and live as roommates. Neither of us felt that living common-law was in line with our religious beliefs and convictions, so although we’ve been living together for three years now we have kept this barrier in place. We are not a family, yet.
Stress and anxiety about the future aside, this last year in Victoria was near bliss for me. I moved into my own apartment in December, 2005. I had a balcony and an ocean view, and I lived near everything I loved about Victoria. It was so nice after four years of always living with or around people to have my own space. David, of course, spent a lot of time over and I have all these lovely memories of take out Chinese or pizza, snack-dashes to the Market on Yates, walks around downtown Victoria, and parties at our friends’ places in the same building. It was so lovely, and perhaps made more so because I knew that each day was closer to the last. In July we managed to get away on a camping trip with our friend Hannah and I found myself trying to memorize every bit of the Island for when I had to leave it.
The school year wound to a close. David accepted an offer from the University of Alberta. I was happy, because I had family there and because due to the labour shortage I knew I’d be able to find a job. Housing was quite worrisome due to the shortage, but thankfully my cousins had just bought a house with a 2-bedroom suite upstairs and were more than happy to rent it to us. Although I didn’t manage to find a job in Edmonton before we left, I at least had enough money saved to see me through at least a month of unemployment.
Moving was stressful. I left Victoria for good and made three trips back to Port with my belongings. My parents had offered to drive us and whatever we could fit in their minivan. David’s family was going to ship the rest of our belongings. There was so much tension in the air about packing—what to bring, how much room in the van etc. At times I questioned my sanity in moving to Edmonton. The day for moving finally arrived. We crammed the vehicle within an inch of its life and drove off. One night in Vancouver, where I said goodbye to my extended family. Then, 14 hours towards Alberta and the beginning of a new stage in life.
We arrived late at night and quickly unpacked. As we brought the last few things into the house a hailstorm broke, which seemed to me at the time as if all the powers of hell were unleashing their fury against us for making it this far. Given the testing and growth that occurred there, I’m not so sure that I was wrong in this initial assessment! But, for the time being, it was just a matter of me running around trying to get our household in order while David ran about the university doing all the little bureaucratic business things that come with a new degree. My parents stayed for a couple of days to help us out by driving us around. Then they were gone and we were alone. I set out to look for work, and David began his studies. And our first four months in Edmonton set out to greet us with unpleasant surprises…