Sometimes I think about leaving this place.
I’m fearful and ashamed, as the Editor in Chief of an independent newspaper that focuses on Waterloo Region, to tell you that I’ve been planning to move to Toronto for the past two years. I tell myself that there’s more opportunities there, more people who will read my writing, more live shows, more jobs, more people who are like me. I tell myself that there’s a cap I will reach here, in the work that I want to do. There aren’t tonnes of opportunities to write, here — KW has a carrying capacity and I don’t know if I’ll know when I’ve reached it.
The plan for me, is to move to Toronto in a year or two. Maybe to go back to school, maybe try to make it as a freelancer, I don’t really know. But, for someone who was born and raised in Cambridge, then moved to Waterloo for school and now lives in Kitchener, I fear that living in KW, and more specifically that I have not experienced living anywhere else, for the entirety of my life could be seen as a failure
I don’t want you to think that I hate KW and that I’m certain that I’m better than this place, this place that I write about for a living, this place that I interact with every day both for work and for pleasure. But the truth is, I haven’t moved to Toronto yet because I’m so afraid that this is where I actually belong and if I leave and come back, I won’t be coming back to the same place.
A couple weeks ago, I had a really good day. As per usual, I went to Princess Cafe to park myself in a chair and write for a few hours. I chatted with the owner, who I’ve become friends with just because I’ve been going there for years, and I had my favourite sandwich. Later that night I went to Ethel’s with some friends and one of the servers played the same trick on me that he always does — he stands on my left side but taps my right shoulder making me look right when he’s actually to my left — you know, a school-yard prank. He plays that trick on me every week and I still fall for it. As we were driving home that night, I saw a few friends standing on the corner of King and Bridgeport. When I was stopped at the red light, I rolled down the window to shout, “hey!” when another acquaintance of mine walked in front of my car and waved.
It was just one of those days where you have nothing but really positive interactions with everyone you see.
I find comfort in the fact that if I go downtown Kitchener, I’ll probably see one of our volunteer writers or photographers. The amount of times that I see Matt Smith walking down King Street — usually with a bag from a record store — is outstanding. I like that the same employee makes my coffee at Smile Tiger. I like that I know who owns what businesses uptown. And I really don’t think that this feeling of connectedness comes solely from my work in community media. I think it comes from this place that we live in and the people who live here, also.
Maybe one day I will get a job in Toronto and have to move there, and maybe it will be a really great experience. But I think we all should evaluate the place we call home. Is it just a bed where you lay your head at night after a long day at a job that you hate? Or is it a grid of intersecting streets that you feel safe walking down, a coffee shop where the owner knows you by name, a bar where you’re sure to run into people you’ve made positive connections with?
To me, that’s why KW is my home, and I don’t know if I’ll be able to find that anywhere else.