If you know me personally, or follow me on social media you’ll probably have heard our news by now, but if not, we’ve made the decision to leave Montreal and start anew out west, in Calgary. To say this decision was difficult would be an understatement. We sat up many nights until the small hours weighing up the pros and cons but at the end of the day we just couldn’t argue with the fact that, despite how much we love it here, Calgary can give us a future in Canada that Montreal never can.
I’m confident that in time I will love Calgary but I know that Montreal will always be my favourite Canadian city, probably now my favourite city anywhere in the world. It was the first place we lived abroad and we have made so many happy memories here that I’ll always think back on our time here so fondly. But despite this, I do believe that we’re doing the right thing.
This has always been my greatest wish; that we would know when the time was right to leave. That we wouldn’t out stay our welcome. That we would never become bitter or start to resent our time here and that we’d leave on our terms, knowing we’d done as much as we could here and yet still with love for the city. Because loveable it is.
Montreal is unlike any other city I’ve ever visited in my life. It’s vibrant, it’s multicultural, it has more going on in terms of arts and festivals and entertainment than anywhere I’ve ever been. It has more restaurants per capita than any other North American city, other than New York, and it has a thriving nightlife (probably too thriving at times). It has an arrogance about it that on some days I find so frustrating, but that most of the time I love. I feel like Montreal sticks two fingers up to the rest of the world. It really doesn’t care what you think of it; it’s confident, self-assured, and more than a little bit sassy and it definitely doesn’t take any crap. But despite this you can’t help but fall head over heels in love with it. It really is the most beautiful place; North American but with a strong European influence, the architecture is stunning, the parks are tremendous and it takes my breath away regularly. So, why are we leaving? A question that I have to admit right now I ask myself daily.
Well, Montreal is the perfect home for us…. now, but long-term it just won’t be the right fit for us. The language barrier means that unfortunately our life here will always have an expiry date. When the project my husband is working on ends he will undoubtedly have the same issues as I did, meaning he is unlikely to be able to find other work in his field, without being entirely fluent in French and while our French may certainly be a lot better than when we arrived, we will never be fluent. The “Frenchness” of the city, which is partly what makes it so wonderful, is also essentially what means it can never be our forever home.
I feel, for us, Montreal is like a fling. A short-term, fun relationship that you enjoy immensely but it’s someone you know you can’t have a long-term future with. Despite how much we love it, it is somewhere we can’t remain forever. The fire will eventually, for us, fizzle out. Calgary is different. It has the potential to be marriage material. English being the first language means that my husband has been able to secure a new post and it should give us both better opportunities career wise in the future.
It will also give us the chance to look at the big picture regarding our future and think about whether we wish to stay in Canada long term or not. We may still decide to return to Scotland in a year, or two, or five but if we do at least in Calgary it should be on our terms, because we wanted to and not because we had to, like it would end up being if we remained in Montreal.
People keep asking me if I think this is a forever move. A rather difficult question to answer when my time in Calgary thus far has been limited to around 12 hours. I genuinely don’t know. We may love it, we may hate it, but I know we’ll give it our all just like we have with our life here. However we feel about Calgary in 6 months or a years time and however much we may love our new life there, I do know that I’ll always miss Montreal.
Now that our departure date is looming, I feel like the city is doing everything it can to remind me quite how much I love it here (we had three weeks of 30+ degree weather at the end of September, I mean are you kidding me!) The place has literally never looked more beautiful, basking in the glorious sunshine as the leaves start to change colour and fall. Give me a break, this is hard enough already!
And hard it is; to leave a place you love and people you love, to start fresh somewhere new; where you know nothing and no one but each other. That isn’t easy. But you know what, the last time we did that it worked out pretty bloody great! See you in 3 weeks Calgary!