Once upon a time I went to Japan…
…and six years later I returned to Canada.
I’ve been away from Fredericton for close to six years. Leaving is not all that unusual, many Frederictonians I know have left and come back several times. Many of them came to realize that they maybe shouldn’t have left in the first place. For me, since I didn’t grow up in this pretty little city (I only transplanted myself for high education) I didn’t feel the draw back “home.” I thought that when I left Fredericton in 2007 it would be to never return but somewhere along the line between growing tired of life in Japan and my impatience with the English teaching profession I started to feel that pull. I decided on a new career path and it made sense to begin again in the city where I had already had a figurative place and personal connections. I guess Fredericton is where I grew up but not in the I-was-born-at-the-Chalmers-hospital-and-graduated-from-FHS sense but in the I-learned-how-to-be-independent sense.
And as life tends to go, it has come full circle. After living a relatively easy life in Japan where I didn’t have to worry about dangers lurking around the corner or scams flooding my email, I have returned once again to regain my independence and start my second Fredericton life, the adult one. The only difference is that this time I’ve got a mature city backing me.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the growth that has occurred here in my absence. I’m not referring to size (although that is noticeable) but maturity. Perhaps it’s difficult to envision a city possessing a quality as subjective as maturity so let me put it this way. You grew up in a small town (or city) that had everything you needed—supermarkets, transportation, shopping, restaurants—but you always felt like something was missing but were never able to quite figure out. That is, until you left. You return to find more of everything you once had plus an abundance of things you never knew you wanted. Suddenly, opportunities are visible that you weren’t able to see before due to your boredom and the big-fish-in-a-little-pond syndrome that afflicted you at the age of 20. This once little city has blossomed into a world full of potential. The Northside has condominiums and a farmers market; we have cupcakes, wine bars and frozen yogurt on the Southside.
But, has Fredericton matured from the seemingly unworldly city I once knew or have I simply returned with a new perspective? There is truth to both of these but the more I think about it the more I realize that my time away has done me some good and given me the ability to appreciate what is around me.
So here I am Fredericton, ready and willing to learn from you and grow with you. I’m looking forward to what we can offer each other. To all my fellow returnees, welcome back.