Learning to slow down a little
When people ask me why I came to Newfoundland, it’s difficult to give them a short answer.
I normally just say that I wanted to try something different.
Before this week, I had lived my whole life in downtown Toronto. I enjoyed 23 years of crowded subway trains, weekly festivals and Chinese food so delicious, you can actually feel the MSG as it squeezes through your arteries.
I know that I shouldn’t admit it, but I liked Toronto. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you do, you always belong there. Of course, Torontonians may not welcome you with open arms, but they ignore you with respect.
But I decided recently that I want to be a journalist. Earlier this year I interned for a magazine in the city, and found that it was a glamorous but ultimately an unsubstantial job. My ambitions were a bit too old-fashioned.
I wanted to write about town halls and fire stations, about park maintenance and small crime — the sort of thing you want to talk about with your neighbor.
I wanted to actually report on the news and at this early point in my career I just couldn’t get the right kind of experience in Toronto. In a city where all the community newspapers are “alternative” and everyone under 40 has their own blog, there are surprisingly few outlets for basic community news.
So I started making inquiries at small community newspapers all over the country. The Compass got back to me first.
I have to be honest. I didn’t give much thought to whether or not I actually wanted to move to Newfoundland. I just wanted an internship, and I didn’t care where it was.
Only after I bought my plane tickets did I consider the realities of leaving everyone I love to spend the summer on a damp northern island all by myself.
My friends in Toronto were all extremely supportive of this idea. None of them had ever been to Newfoundland, of course, but like most people living in the city they seemed to think of small-town living as being pure and uncomplicated — like a shampoo, for your spirit.
If I had an internship offer anyway, they said, why wouldn’t I take advantage of the opportunity to live the small town life for a few months?
In their minds, I’d leave Toronto a strung-out city-slicker, twitching from too many lattes. Three months later I’d return a gracious east coaster, with a fondness for fiddle music and blueberry muffins. Everything in between, they told me, would be fodder for a formulaic but hilarious “ fish-outof-water” CBC comedy.
Even though I knew they were wrong, the idea wasn’t unappealing to me. Fiddle music and muffins aside, I could probably learn to slow down a little.
Diplomatically put, I am an assertive person. I use a lot of four letter words and my patience is limited. Sometimes, I wish I was a little nicer. I don’t think moving to Newfoundland can change the kind of person I am, but I would like to pick up some nice habits.
For example, at the Tim Hortons in Carbonear, no one seems to mind when I take the time to search in my purse for exact change. I get impatient with myself when I take more than one minute at the Tim Horton’s counter; could I ever be as good-natured as the person behind me, who may be in a hurry but refrains from huffing while I fish out pennies from forgotten pockets? Could I ever be so habitually unselfish?
I don’t know, but after spending the last few weeks buying my morning double-double with nickels, I’m in a better mood to try.