Time to Say Farewell to Nova Scotia (Part 5)?
Halifax has been my town for more than 20 years — half my life and pretty well all my adult life.
I would be dishonest if I claimed that Halifax hasn’t been good to me. It has. And so have the ’90s. Sure, I had 3 years in there when I held a soul-crushing job, but I had my first university teaching gig at 27 and then did it regularly from age 32 to 36. And, without capital much less two clues, I took the risk of starting my own business. I don’t know if I would have had the guts or comfort level to do that in a large city, for here I had the luxury of being a big fish in a small pond.
Plus, 15 years ago, the year of the 10th anniversary of my coming out, I recognized that as far as my sexuality is concerned, I had only made myself feel miserable by expecting “more” to come out of …well, you know, situations when things come! I had assumed orthodoxy for myself, assumed that’s what I wanted; but, in truth, that doesn’t fit my temperament. You might be tempted to say that it’s the time when I recognized that I’m a slut tramp, but that would be a unidimensional generalization. However, I will say that it’s the time when I recognized that, after being pegged as a square for as long as I could remember, I had assumed this etiquette to be true …but it wasn’t. It’s the time when I recognized that, but for one exception, I had always “fallen” or “drifted” into relationships.
Strangely (or not so strangely), a major turning point for me was getting my first car, Gildo. I travelled over 33,000 km the first year I had him. That first summer is when I re-found nearby Crystal Crescent Beach, where I had gone only a few times with Madame A in 1985, except that summer I wandered far beyond the so-called third beach because I had been told that’s where the horny men hanged out. That’s how I began learning what “no strings attached” meant, that it wasn’t something to be ashamed of, and that it wasn’t deserving of so much smug judgment. And there is, after all, such a thing as “taking precautions,” both physically as well as emotionally.
However, it’s also around that time that I discovered that, in a small conservative city like Halifax, there IS a harsh judgment of those ordinary guys who enjoy indulging occasionally in such naughtiness if you’re not a buffed god or a dude who otherwise exudes uncontrollable magnitism. But in a bigger city, nobody could care less. People in bigger cities are more likely to say “Whatever floats your boat” and shrug it off. Because that’s just the urbane thing to do.
Also, this city has gone from dabbling with tentative forms of urbanity to pushing unbearably strange political rectitude, like the whole no-scent nonsense. The city has practically become the world capital of environmental sensitivities, and that’s just a tediously boring distinction to hold. Yet at the same time, too many Haligonians have begun believing that this IS a major international city instead of the important regional centre that it really is. After Halifax hosted the G8 summit in 1995, the mayor at the time mused that perhaps the city should consider bidding for the Olympics; 12 years later, the city made an ass of itself by pulling out of the bid for the next best thing.
Anyway, around Thanksgiving 1999, I visited Cleopatrick in Montreal. It had been 5 years since I had been there. And that’s when it really dawned on me: not only could I see myself living in Montreal, but also I realized that the Halifax “Cool Factor” had evaporated.
I returned to Halifax and announced to everyone that within a year or two, I would be moving to Montreal. But here I am, still, almost 8 years later. Until recently I had only one excuse, but I think it was a damn good one: I had too much debt. And by preserving the status quo, I knew I could keep my head just above the water line. I couldn’t be so sure of that if I moved too far away from my client base.
But then, of course, I got my day job, basically got out of debt — I still have to pick at it, but it’s well on its way — and things are going well. And while I don’t wish to count the chickens before they’ve hatched, there are encouraging signs that it could become a steady gig. Since I work from home, whether I’m in Halifax or Montreal is of no object. So maybe, finally, the time has come.
Maybe it’s time to say farewell to Nova Scotia.
There are some cons, of course. For instance, most of the people I knew in Montreal no longer live there. And I’d definitely miss living in the same city as BeeGoddessM and Stephanie, as well as the Queen of Sheba. However, leaving a city is not synonymous with abandoning friendships. And for sure I’d miss the proximity to my beloved beach in the summer, but staying in a place for the sake of one beach that I may be able to enjoy a half-dozen times a year is getting to be a thin excuse to stay put, and besides, I love how summers in Montreal are generally real summers. As for the practical plus sides of Montreal, it’s a comfortable driving distance from Mom in Moncton and even Halifax, and I’d be 2 hours away from my sister. I also love the idea of living in French or English after so many years of being in an exclusively anglophone milieu. Plus my door will always be opened for out-of-town guests now that I’ve accepted that it’s better that I hire someone to do my housecleaning regularly.
So yeah, this rambling look at my many years in Halifax is all about my realization that I may soon have a choice, and that I’ve run out of excuses for not making it. It’s also about remembering how, at 19, I had the nerve to make a similar choice so that I would stop wallowing in regrets. Life is too short to waste it away in regrets. And while I’m not exactly a geriatric case — shut up! — I’m most certainly well into the second half of my life. I should endeavour to fill it with as few regrets as possible, so……
Maybe it’s time to say farewell to Nova Scotia.