I call Victoria B.C my soul city even though I had only lived there a mere five years, during my mid twenties; a struggling single parent with a four year old daughter. Even though it was during the more difficult time in my life, young, directionless, and floundering in a relationship with a rock guitarist.
Yet still. I think it is where I grew. And though the growth had its hardships, and in truth don’t the two go hand in hand, these times and places where growth happens always leave an indelible mark. For better or worse.
I was in fact quite happy in those five Victoria years despite the obvious chaos and confusion I had going on then. Ok – my entire 20’s decade was chaos and confusion- but, I grew up. A bit.
Within that five year period while there I worked at a five star Bed and Breakfast as the breakfast chef, which I absolutely loved, then later left the B&B to train and work as a Care Aid. The money was union money and benefits, so it was a strategic employment choice.
Even so, it was when my daughter and I were evicted from our James Bay apartment that eventually determined our move back up island to affordable Nanaimo.
Reason for eviction being the building we were living in was unfortunately slated for demolition. Being built in its place a luxury adult oriented condo high rise. Thus all of us were given notice. And leaving Victoria, reason being that I couldn’t afford to rent a house, and to find an apartment that allowed children was nearly impossible to come by at the time. I looked hard, searching through the listings in the Times-Colonist in every effort to remain in Victoria. The thought of leaving was, I didn’t want to think about leaving. But, time was running out and nothing was coming up.
Except for a two bedroom house my sister-in-law’s parents had coming available in Nanaimo just as my daughter and I would be exiting the Victoria apartment.
But that last Victoria residence, our apartment, was where our fondest memories are kept. It was full of single parents and low income families. We were happy there, neighbours helping each other with child care, and bonding together as a tight community. It was across the street from Beacon Hill Park. My daughter and I could walk out our door, cross the street, and have all of Beacon Hill Park and that great stretch of waterfront at our fingertips. Or we could take a walk down streets lined with great old trees and character homes and be downtown in the heart of the harbour in ten minutes. My daughter’s school was a three minute walk away.
And although I have lived in Nanaimo for most of my adult life, from the age of eighteen, whenever I go to Victoria – it’s only a one and half hour drive away- I feel as if I’m being embraced by the dearest of an old favourite aunt. It feels like I’m coming home.
This feeling is the same for my daughter.
Recently she visited from her home in Kimberley, located in the Rockies of B.C., with her one and half year old daughter, my first grand baby. A visit to Victoria is on the list of things she wants to do.
Spending the day walking through the park, my baby with her baby, seeing these two together, I could see my daughter once again as the little girl she was with me, remembering our life here, my own youth, my young daughter at my side where together we once had spent so much time, climbing the rocky shoreline over looking the ocean and out towards Port Angeles in the United States.
A little melancholic, our past Victoria life flickered briefly before me as I watched my daughter with her daughter, for those few years when it was just she and I.