Looking Upon The Rockies As A Different Girl (West Coast Girl, Pt 16)

Previous Chapters:

To Write Is An Adventure (Pt 1)

Writing In The Mountains (Pt 2)

Balancing Writing & Travel (Pt 3)

Living The Dream In Banff (Pt 4)

When Traveling Gets Dark (Pt 5)

A Romance In The Mountains (Pt 6)

From Alberta To B.C. (Pt 7)

The Grass Is Always Green (Pt 8)

Knowing What It’s Like To Thrive (Pt 9)

Writing & Growing (Pt 10)

Return To Banff (Pt 11)

Back In My Dream City (Pt 12)

Having The Time Of My Life (Pt 13)

Facing Wolves (Pt 14)

It Began With A Collarbone Kiss (Pt 15)

Fall 2019

When I arrived in Canmore, Alberta, they let me stay the night for free in one of the hotel rooms. I’d be arriving later at night, so it made the most sense. I had a wonderful sleep. The next morning, I smiled as I opened the window and saw a gorgeous view of the Rocky Mountains outside.

I started the new housekeeping job and it went well. I’d done it before a couple of times and with all the workouts and hikes I’d done over the last few years, I was quick and had a lot of endurance. I’d finish my rooms before everyone else most days then I’d help anyone who needed it. Canmore was in the slow season, so I found the work to be chill. I’d brew a coffee in the room while I was cleaning and listen to music. I listened to a lot of Alison Wonderland at that time, especially while cleaning the rooms. Her music matched the energy I felt in the summer of 2019. It helped me move past a lot of intense feelings surrounding what happened with Sven. I could tell from some of her lyrics that she’d been hurt by someone, too. It was crazy being back in Canmore 6 years after the first time I lived there. I was a very different person than I was in 2014. I’d been living in my dream city for years and I knew how it felt to have my own place and feel successful.

Canmore is such a beautiful mountain town, though it didn’t have the same magic for me as it once did. The people I’d shared it with the first time in 2013 were no longer there. This time in the Bow Valley was very strange. I had not only returned there last minute, but the trauma and sadness of things not working out before I left Vancouver made me feel like a shadow of myself. I am grateful that this second time in Canmore gave me the space and tranquility to heal and process what happened. The distance I traveled to get there by bus was symbolic of the distance I was putting between me and the wolf. I couldn’t help but think back to the first time I’d lived in Canmore. The people were great during that area and there were many wonderful memories to be had. In some ways, I felt a little bit like a ghost wandering around in a place where I once felt connection and joy. The experience with Sven had drawn a lot out of me, but I knew I’d get my spirit back.

Had I known what type of guys I’d meet in Banff and in Vancouver, would I have said ‘yes’ to going back to Europe with Tim? I probably wouldn’t have said ‘yes’ even knowing what I know now, because I didn’t love Tim. If you’re going to move from Canada to Eastern Europe to get married, you’d better be head over heels for that person. The one for me was still out there somewhere, probably wondering where the hell I was.

I imagined myself in my 60s happily married to another young soul and telling a younger single woman that she, too, would find her match. I was really glad I met the older couple on the way to the hostel.

I paid a visit to Banff on one of my days off. I walked along the Bow River, admiring the majestic beauty all around me. It was interesting being back again at a time that I didn’t want to be anywhere else but Vancouver. I tried to view the whole thing as a retreat of sorts. In many ways, that’s exactly what it is. After work, I’d go into town and write a new story at the Starbucks there. I finished that story, but I didn’t end up publishing it. It was a good exercise and it kept me occupied. I pondered the idea of going to therapy, but I kept telling myself I was okay. I just had to get back to Vancouver and start over then everything would be great again.

I imagined myself as a sort of parallel to Sansa Stark. My hair was dyed a new colour and I was hiding away in a reprieve of sorts. No one in Canmore knew my life’s story or who I really was. One day I’d be returning to where I belonged and I would claim what was mine.

I got along well with the supervisors at the hotel and they liked my work in the rooms. I’d come a long way from being the person who would break down or complain about the job. I enjoyed it this time – the movement did me a lot of good since my mind and spirit were restless. After a few months of stable hours, I started to look into places I could stay once I got back into Vancouver. There was a backpacker’s hostel where you could stay for $350/month if you paid on a monthly basis. I e-mailed the place ahead of time to ask if I could secure a place. It was time to go back to where I belonged. My dream city.

My happiness returned when the bus wheeled me back into Vancouver. I went straight from the bus station with my bags to the hostel which was downtown. Let’s just say the city hostel left much to be desired. I really missed my amazing micro suite on Main Street and could have kicked myself for letting it go. That was a very good lesson – if you find a great place to live, don’t give it up because you think you need a change. Places like the one I had aren’t easy to find. I couldn’t believe I was sleeping in a hostel bunk bed after coming so far, but it was a lesson I would never forget. If you don’t plan things through, you can end up scattered. I tried to think positive. At least it was close to some cool cafes and I got a lot of writing done during this time.

The moment I left the hostel, my spirits lifted and I was able to go anywhere I wanted. I applied like mad for jobs and landed a position with the NDP as a canvasser. I was able to save some money quickly with the rent being so cheap. While it was horrible sleeping in such a dirty shared place where everyone watched what you were doing, I knew I’d be out of there in a month or so. It was the sort of place where everyone wanted you to be present at their parties or be super chatty – almost like a cult. You were considered the crazy one if you worked full time and only went there to sleep.

I had to stay focused on the end goal – getting my own room again.

The photo above is from a café I was writing in soon after I got back to Vancouver. It gave me a nice reprieve from the hostel.

I texted Alexei that I was back in the city and he seemed happy about it. We started snap chatting again. When I’d saved enough money to leave the hostel, I ended up staying in some different Air BNBs. For the time being, it was the best option since there were no affordable apartments for rent at that time. It felt strange not having a set home, especially after being stable for two years at my old apartment, but you have to trust the process when you make a rebound. Situations improve and life works itself out when you are patient and never give up.

I kept writing when I wasn’t working and I settled back into a good routine despite the temporary living situations. This time when I flew home for Christmas, I wouldn’t have my own place to fly back to; I booked another Air BNB for when I came back. The idea of renting a room without signing a lease or putting down a deposit is smart. It lets you try different areas around the city and see where you prefer to live. You could leave when you wanted.

While I was starting to feel more like myself again, I still couldn’t walk down the street that passed by the place I used to work with Sven. I couldn’t bear the idea of seeing him again. He had no place in my new life. I have to admit that I thought about him a lot when I first moved back to the city. I was living so close to the area we worked and used to walk around together. It was just going to take some time. I hoped that once I started seeing Alexei more, those dark memories would fade away and allow newer, brighter memories to take their place.

Listening to some fresh Billie Eilish songs helped me transition from the summer of 2019 to the winter of 2019. While I wasn’t living in my own apartment, I was back in my dream city and at the core I was content.



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