Happy Mother's Day!
My mom was in town for a week or so last month, just in time to help Lauren and I move all of our belongings from one side of town to the other. I honestly don't know how we would have done it without her.
During the move I found this photo wedged into an old book. I'm sure I put it there for safe keeping during one of the many moves that accompany undergraduate college life, but it turns out it wasn't the best of places since it stayed there for roughly 6 years and almost went out with the book (a seemingly random pick) in this latest move.
I'm extremely happy to've found this picture. Although not the best portrait of either of us, this image is what comes to mind when I think about the years I spent living with my mom on Vancouver Island. Taken somewhere around China Beach, the scenery depicts a little piece of the beauty that is literally everywhere in that part of the planet. I remember this day, and it evokes in me warm feelings about a period in my life that played a fundamental part in making me the person that I am today.
My mom moved to Victoria in 1996, I was 13 and starting 8th grade in Atlanta, and we had just gone through (were still going through) an extremely painful time. I can't imagine the difficulty of separating yourself from your child and leaving the security of a place you've called home for decades to start a new chapter of life in a place thousands of miles away, but somehow she knew that it was the right thing to do, and had the bravery to do it.
I finished the school year in Atlanta, and joined my mom in Victoria in the summer of 1997. Like (i assume) most kids that age, I hadn't had the greatest time in middle school. When I arrived in Victoria I was two years out of the security of elementary school, had gone through a few life events that hopefully most never do, and certainly didn't have any sense of who I was as I was moving into the first semi-adult years of my life.
Starting High School in VIctoria gave me the opportunity to start fresh, in a new place with new people, and absolutely no preconceptions of who I was. Victoria happens to be a very unique little "city," providing many of the things that enable independence (walkable density backed by public transit), without many of the risks (as much crime?) found in larger cities. The move also introduced me to my first taste of living in another country, and showed me that moving doesn't mean that the place you leave is forgotten, the parts and people that matter stay with you; and the parts you might like to forget aren't necessarily forgotten, but can turn into important influences in how you move forward in your life.
The combination of timing, change, and "protected" independence let me in those two years experiment greatly with who I was. I formed new friendships, was able to do stupid things that didn't kill me or derail my life with extreme punishment, and with the superhuman patience of my mom and good fortune of a few wise stewards who somehow managed to steer me without tipping me off to their involvement, I emerged with the roots of a love of travel and education that set the initial direction of my life.
My mom has since lived in Toronto and now lives in Portland Oregon, recently selling her residence in Victoria. She continues to show me that change is not to be feared, but embraced and used to enrich life.
Thank you mom, for the travels, the wisdom, the patience, and the love with which you have always surrounded me.
I love you mom, Happy Mother's Day!