There’s a valley holds my name, now I know
In tales they used to tell it seemed so low
There’s a valley way down there
I used to dream it like a prayer
And my fathers, they lived there long ago.
There’s a mountain holds my name, close to the sky
and those stories made that mountain seem so high
There’s a mountain way up there
I used to dream I’d breathe its air
And hear the voices that in me would never die. (Margaret Laurence, The Diviners, 522)
Moving away from everything you know isn’t easy. I’ve now done it three times, each time a little further than the last. When I was 17, in my final year of high school, my parents told my brother and I that we were moving to Lakefield, ON, about two hours north of my home in Toronto. This was tragic to me at the time. I was leaving behind all of my friends, my older sister and my grandparents, my hockey team, but I had no choice. And while it was one of the most difficult moves I’ve ever had to make, I would quite literally not be where I am today if I hadn’t made that move. My personal growth depended on it.
Attending high school in Lakefield was very difficult for me. It was grade 12, everyone had already established their cliques, and I didn’t fit into any of them. I felt a loneliness I had never experienced before, and I shut myself out. I didn’t want to know anyone, I didn’t want to be remembered or noticed. I just wanted to do well in school so I could go to university. While I have always had a love for literature and writing, my passion flourished while studying Canadian Literature in English class. I started to look at Canada through a different lens. My teacher Mr. Milner painted Canada so beautifully, as a wholly complex country waiting to be discovered. In discovering your country, in turn, you may even discover yourself. I fell in love with the way Margaret Laurence wrote of Canada’s terrain, and how her characters develop as organically as the weather changes, from a crisp and colourful fall to a frigid and bleak winter. I wanted so badly to discover Canada so I could write about it with the seemingly effortless eloquence of Laurence. I promised myself that one day I would take the trip across Canada, and while it wasn’t an easy road, this journey has been everything I needed it to be.
Now, seven years later, I am fulfilling my teenage dreams, I am writing a series about our journey across this vast country, and I am so excited to share it with whoever is willing to read. I don’t know how many parts will be in this series, I am going to let it unfold organically.
One last note: although it seems a little cheesy, there are some wonderful people in my life who have supported me, and who have taught me life long lessons, who I must pay homage to:
First, Kristen, a true life long friend, and one of the only friends I made in my time living in the wonderful Lakefield, ON. Thank you for being my friend when I thought no one would. You’re truly a gem and you stand out amongst the crowd.
My sister Kaitlin, for always encouraging my writing even when I’m terrified to have anyone read it, you remain one of my biggest role models to date.
My brother Lucas, You’re so wise beyond your years and I always turn to you for advice. I can’t wait for you to share your wisdom with the world, we need more people like you on this earth.
My parents and grandparents, for making all of this possible, and always encouraging and supporting me, even when I decide to move across the country with nothing except a destination.
My great and strong friend Julia, my soulmate, without you I don’t know what I would do.
And last but certainly not least, my love and partner Jon. Those who wander are not lost, I’m so glad to have found someone to wander with.
Part 2 is on the horizon, stay tuned.