13 October, 2010

Do I live here yet?

I haven't decided if I'm a Calgary person or not. It seems like I ought to be, since I'm living here and all... but I just can't quite bring myself to admit that I do indeed live here. People say "Welcome to ____" and I want to fill in my home town, not this place. I feel like I am a stranger in a strange land, and I only come from the other major city here... It is not as though I crossed an ocean to move to this place.

But the differences are still night and day. The mountains are so close here, and as a result, community is a lot harder to find. (that is not an excuse, I realise, community exists, it just hides better, and that is no reason not to try to find it) While people in Edmonton stick around and do things in the city, people in Calgary run to the mountains. And then you have the politics. There's a reason they call my home city "REDmonton". You wouldn't know it for looking, but Edmonton is far more liberal than Calgary, which, when you step back, is a scary discovery. If Edmonton is the "red" commie-liberal-socialist city, Calgary is so far right wing as to be abortion-protesting, fiscal-policy-slashing, separationists. That's right, separationists. There's a reason the Wild Rose Party was formed in and around Calgary, it's a hotbed of anti-Canada, anti-federal thought, governed by foreign (mostly American)-owned head offices and run with money, that mostly comes from and goes to America. So OF COURSE they want out of Canada, OF COURSE they're anti-tax, anti-social system. ... and then you add to that the fact that the provincial capital is in Edmonton, and they're anti-government as well, because, well, they dislike Edmonton.

Moving here is like showing up at the opposing team's stadium, dressed head-to-toe in your team's colours.

I don't tell people I'm from Edmonton, but it invariably gets out, because I'm clearly far more left-wing than the majority of the people I work with (how I got the job, I don't know). I'm an environmentalist... still a minor role here, where money talks, and you listen to the money (so if environmentalism means more money, they'll do it, but only then). I'm a social-service-supporter. ... and I'm a big fan of THE MORTAL ENEMY of all Calgarians: the Edmonton sports teams. Yes, there is a pretty entertaining inter-city rivalry going on. In Edmonton, it's fun and games, we cheer for the good guys, the green and gold and the copper and blue, and the red and silver and red and gold (ironic, yes? ... the anti-red city has all-red sports teams, even the Calgary Cannons were red, as are their replacements) get nary a clap from us. ... BUT here, it's so much more than sports team versus sports team. If the rivalry stayed on the football field and the hockey rink, I'd be okay. I wouldn't talk football, and I wouldn't pull out my vintage Oilers jersey, but it doesn't stop there.

... and it doesn't stop with the true-born-and-bred Calgarians, either. The rivalry is adopted by all the new-to-the-fold out-of-towners striving to belong in this corporate city. The people so vehemently critical about Edmonton haven't actually been Calgarians, they've been Torontonians, or Vancouverites; people who moved here for work. ... and perhaps they're just missing their own metropolitan paradises where cultures can intermingle and the red of everyone's necks doesn't have to be hidden with shirt collars. I don't understand it. People who have no past history of the inter-city provincial rivalry continually scoff at the "City of Champions" monicker adopted by Edmonton because of the tornado that came through in 1987. It's cited in blogs rather frequently and was actually announced by our then-mayor Laurence Decore in 1987 (more here and in Wikipedia... so it MUST be true! ) ha! ... but do Calgarians believe me? Absolutely not, most particularly not the non-Calgary-born Calgarians who have no idea about the tornado.

Anyway, apparently I do live here, and I kind-of hate it. I'm hoping the hate disappears as I find people who actually don't mind being friends with an Edmontonian. ... Surprisingly, more of my friends FROM Edmonton and from university are moving TO Calgary. The thesis of the observations I've heard is that the greatest thing about Calgary is how close it is to the mountains. ouch. If I've traded a city of community and volunteers for a city of weekend warriors who'd rather ski than build connections, I think I want out. But we'll see. There are options coming up in this work I do, and I've got a refreshed resume and new outlook to match. Fun times.

Clearly, in my lamenting of my relocation, I have neglected to lament just how much work I've been doing, and how that has cut into my experience of this city. I too have fallen prey to the "but the mountains are so close!" logic, and I've spent a good number of my weekends visiting with people outside of my new city's boundaries. My weekdays, well, let's just say they're more "workdays" than "weekdays" and the idea of going out to explore, on my own, in a new city after 9pm on a Tuesday just doesn't appeal to me. We shall see. In the meantime, I'm trying my best to turn my apartment into an oasis. Progress is slow, but promising.

The living room, looking out to a north-facing balcony and dumpster view. Yes, that is a "vintage" late 70's/early 80's couch and chair. The laz-y-boy is from 1974 (I have the brochure/warranty). The only 'new' thing in the space is the set of nesting tables, and they don't look new at all.

My "workspace" when I work from home, and my bookshelf, overflowing with things to read, when I have time. The print on the walls is from an Edmonton artist, and it's a print of Calgary, go figure.

The couch. The art on the wall is: 2 prints of said close-by mountains, a sketch I did in highschool of the tree behind my workstation when it was much shorter, and a metal cut-out forest done by Little Monkey Metalworks.

My dining area, with red chairs I'm dying to repaint, vintage linen tablecloth and a painting I bought in Paris.

The rest of my space is not photogenic enough just yet. ;)

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