The first time I visit Kamloops I am intimidated by the barren hills. Spoiled, I know. Coming from the green, rain-forested Pacific Northwest, such feelings should not be unexpected.
It is hot and dusty here.
Mind you, I left Vancouver on one of those mornings when the air is humid and clings to your face, and you breathe in rain. It’s wet and green, there’s no other way to put it. Kamloops is the opposite. Nothing wrong with it though, if you give yourself time to get used to it.
Walking through the downtown feels welcoming and less intimidating. The hills seem friendlier, and a glimpse of a passing train opened the door to a bold thought.
“It’s a good place to be. You could move here — why not?” the voice whispers in a hushed tone before disappearing like a skittish mouse to unreachable corners. Now it will gnaw at my brain and try make it happen. How bold.
I sit at The Grind sipping strong coffee and making friends with a chaplain and his musician friend. Chatting over large smiles about how life takes you places, about what’s worth taking with you, about how places grow in your heart.
“Move here,” the voice whispers. “You’ll love it, you’ll see.”
The second time I visit, my two boys come. Tired after the drive through the canyon, they stretch their legs at Victoria Street and Second Avenue and look around.
“Can we get some ice cream?”
It’s mid-July. I assume all people under 10 have that sweet singular thought.
Saying no would be a sin, they’ve been so patient. We stroll, melting treats in hand. Would you like to live here, I ask them? They look at me, shrug and smile. It’s a big question. Don’t answer now, I tell them. We don’t have to move, only if we feel like it. Only if.
You might wonder how that’s possible. I am blessed to be able to do what I love, and do it from anywhere. I write.
Trained as a scientist — I am a biochemist and still deeply fascinated with the living world — I started writing early on and aside from a few breaks here and there, writing has become my refuge.
The boys and I visit the house we might get. We visit the neighbourhood we’ll proclaim ours. If, that is. We stop by Riverside Park and the boys splash and laugh and jump.
“It’d be fun to live here, mom, can we? Can we?”
Ha, my silly sweet boys, selling their laughter to dancing water. A band plays jolly tunes and they look at me. We might, no promises though. Their hair is wet, and they use words like, “Next time.”
We camp at Paul Lake that night with a thousand stars splashed across the sky. The morning opens up like a warm oven. It smells of ripe berries. We go for a swim, and we know we’ll be back. Twenty-five minutes or so from the “if” house to the lake, I tell the boys.
“And we can run back in case we forget something!” they point out. Right.
On Sept. 1, we move into the house guarded by the pear tree. Ripe pears. Boxes, boys, our two adopted guinea pigs. Writing, and school. Life begins to unfold.
Nice to meet you, Kamloops.
Daniela Ginta is a scientist, freelance writer, blogger and mother. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org