I was born and spent the first six years of my life in Edmonton Alberta. From this city I take my love of the Edmonton Oilers and my almost supernatural tolerance of snow. I'm generally back there at least once a year to visit the University of Alberta Hospital where my cardiologist is. That will now change since I'll find a cardiologist in Vancouver. My favorite student newspaper the Gateway is at U of A. I wish I'd have gone there and gotten onto that staff instead of the Phoenix I have always wanted to move back.
After Edmonton my family moved to Kelowna British Columbia. There I attended Okanagan Mission Primary school for Grade 2. I took Grade 2 twice because about a third of the way through my first jaunt through the second grade I had to return to Edmonton for open heart surgery. Due to post-operaton complications and a staff infection I spent six months in the hospital, most of which I got to spend in the Intensive Care Unit.
Next came White Rock. I always enjoyed White Rock. It was easy to go down to Bellingham for the evening where we'd go to Bellis Fair for the cheaper American toys and game at the Target whose selection trumped anything you could find in Vancouver at that time. Plus we'd eat at the Red Robin, which then was only in the U.S.A., and go to a movie. Sometimes we'd go to Guilford to see a movie. I remember seeing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at the theatres by Guildford mall with my friend Michael Dowler.
We moved back to Kelowna after that, but it doesn't count as a new city. I've lived there ever since, except for the next city on my list.
I lived in Amiens for three to four months in Grade 11, which would have been 1995. Amiens is a town about an hour north of Paris by train, and it's about the size of Kelowna. I was an exchange student and I hated it. The first week of my French life I spent in Paris and it was amazing, but it went downhill pretty quickly from there, starting with me crying at the first dinner with my host family because I couldn't tell that they were trying to offer me maple syrup. The classroom work itself was not that bad, though about half way through I found out that I'd been placed in a class full of students with severe learning disabilities and behavioral problems, which explained a lot. My two friends in Amiens were Alexa an English girl and Donna a girl from Ontario who had more teen pregnancy stories than may be healthy. I eventually came home early after my relationship with my host family crashed and burned rather spectacularly. I had the chance to be relocated but by the point I was offered a new family I just wanted to come home.
Now I'm spending my first night in Vancouver. I'd like to think that this marks the start of a new phase in my life in the same way that all those other cities mark distinctive periods in my life. Granted the fact that I'm living in my brother's spare bedroom for at least six months means that I'm still tethered to my past in a way that's not going to let me do some sort of radical reinvention, but still it's a new chapter and I'm looking forward to it.
*To clear up any possible confusion the picture is of the Arc de Triumph in Paris and not from Amiens. All my photos of Amiens are in storage. However I did live in Paris for a week, though that's hardly long enough to classify it as home. The first picture is the view from my bedroom window in Vancouver.