I left my heart on Vancouver Island…
My first trip to Vancouver Island was to meet my Uncle Merv (my dad’s brother) and his wife my Auntie Gay. At the time they lived in a place called Qualicum Beach. I could not believe my eyes because from their house you walked to the end of the street, cross a four lane highway and boom you are at the Pacific Ocean. The freaking Pacific Ocean was practically in their back yard. I could spend my lifetime walking up and down the beach, beach-combing for treasures. Some of my favourite memories are walking the beach with my grandma Davis. We would spend hours finding the neatest treasures; I still have a sand dollar we found together. I was shocked to learn that star fish are purple. I love star fish and purple has always been my favourite colour!
Every visit I made to Vancouver Island growing up left me yearning to move. I wanted to call the Island my home. My heart felt like it belonged on the Island. To feel the salt of the ocean hit my skin makes me feel whole.
I did end up moving to Nanaimo B.C. where my aunt, uncle and cousins lived at the time and I made it work for about a year in 2008. I was supposed to get married here in Ontario and everything came crashing down on me. I knew that marrying this person was not right for me. I was not living the life I dreamed of; I was filled with negativity. I had long lost the person I wanted to be. I was working dead end jobs and had lost the passion in my life. I was barely getting through each day. To me each day felt like the worst day of my life, stuck on a horrible repeat cycle. It was a cycle that I couldn’t seem to stop, or escape from. I was so unhappy and felt so lost. I finally decided enough was enough and I packed up my suitcases. I boarded a flight as far west as I could go; headed for a place that had always held my heart. I called my Island family who I had not seen in many years. When you adult and your parents don’t pay for your vacations well I seemed to take less. I laced up my running shoes and ran from a future I couldn’t dream of living. I am a runaway bride. Maybe I should have a movie made about my life, ha; I wonder who would be cast in my role? (Granny, who helps me edit thinks Allison Janney would play me in the movie).
I remember when the plane took off I broke out crying. Full on ugly crying. Immediately I was hit with worry. What if I messed up my life? What if I couldn’t start over? What if I failed again? What if I didn’t pack enough? What if I couldn’t find a job? What if I couldn’t find a place to live? What if people didn’t like me? What if I lost who I was? I often wonder if these thoughts ran through my Opa’s mind when he boarded his boat headed for Canada? I admit I was scared to make this change in my life, but I was absolutely terrified to stay in Ontario and run my failed marriage tape to the end. Turns out when you run from your problems no matter how beautiful the new surrounding are, no matter how far you run, how fast you run, you will still have those same problems. The ocean did its best to heal my heart but I had not learned how to erase my negative self-talk and it was eating away at me. I struggled with finding a job, a place to live, I was running out of money, my car constantly broke down, I was always sick and truthfully I missed Ontario. It’s the only home I have ever known. I would not change my experience on the west coast for the world. My dream of being a west coast island girl had come to an end much sooner than I had dreamed. It’s true it didn’t work out as I had first planned but, my dream is not gone, it has just changed. My time on the Island taught me so many lessons and brought me closer to my Island family. I wouldn’t say I failed so much as I gained an amazing experience.
As much as I miss the Island I am glad to be back in Ontario. If I stayed in British Columbia I wouldn’t have my son! I will always have a place to call home with family on the island. I do believe everything has a way of working out for the best.
Oh, my Island family they are some of the greatest people you could ever meet. I am so lucky to call them my family. My Uncle Merv is one of the funniest people you will ever meet. He is just a grown up hiding in a kid’s body. His big smile is contagious; you cannot be in a bad mood in this man’s presence. His jokes and great sense of humour will make you laugh until it hurts to laugh. He has a huge heart and I know he loves his family more than anything because I am lucky enough to be a part of his family. He will forever be my favourite uncle. My son and Uncle Merv share the same birthday, granted a few years in between. My auntie Gay is one of the sweetest people. Her kindness radiates from the moment you meet her. I would say she is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met. You could watch wheel of fortune with her, the board would have two letters and she would be able to solve the puzzle. I used to think she cheated, but, no I found out she’s just that good! When I watch wheel of fortune it could be down to all the letters filled in but the last two and I would still get it wrong. She is a woman of natural talent. I have one of her beautiful paintings hanging up in my home. Oh and goodness we can’t forget that time I went to aqua fit with her. To say she kicked my ass would be an understatement. She too loves her family more than anything. Auntie Gay showed me how important having great people surrounding you truly is. Both my aunt and uncle welcomed me into their beautiful home. They gave me the biggest hugs and helped me more than they will ever know. They taught me not only how to love myself but how to love and show kindness to others. Thank you Auntie and Uncle! I also have three wonderful Island cousins. Christopher, oh you never know where he will be or what he will be doing but, whatever he is doing he always drops it and come to visit when family is around. I have never had an Island visit where he didn’t show up, enjoy catching up, and end with a hug. I’m coming back for an off road jeep adventure! Jana, oh you just know you will be laughing with this girl. I wanted to be her when I was a kid. I thought she was one cool chick. On one of our trips she was wearing the most beautiful outfit. It was a plaid sun dress and she rocked it. When I came home I had my Oma make me one just like it. Jana you have always been and still are a picture of beauty to me. Last but nearest and dearest to my heart is Shenoah (Noah). We are cousins, but, also I believe we are soul sisters! She’s my favourite road trip buddy! Her son Ryley is everything I hope my son turns out to be. You are amazing! Noah is older than me but the smaller version of me. We are so much alike it makes me smile. This girl is the most beautiful person I know. Noah is the picture of strength and determination. I aspire to be the woman she is.
My Island family changed me for the better.
As I headed back to Ontario I never forgot their kindness towards me, the love they passed along and all the laughs oh goodness I needed those laughs. I met some of the most amazing people on the Island and I would like to say thank you to each and every one of them for all the amazing memories. Here is too many more trips to the Island and to a place that forever holds my heart. I will be back soon!