[it's been difficult to keep this to myself for the past few weeks...watch Surprise Party Sue to understand! ;)]
In 2009, when I moved to Montreal, the point wasn’t for my move to be permanent. I loved the city and thought it would be a great place to do a startup and settle back in to Canada. But the startup took a little longer than expected (still chugging along! choo-choo!), I fell in love with someone amazing whose family is in Montreal and many other opportunities just kept popping up. Either way, it’s just over 4 years later and I’m still here!
But not for long.
We’re moving to Toronto!
I always thought I’d be the one with the opportunity that would move us on to the next destination, but my wonderful boyfriend (the aforementioned amazing someone) is actually the one who precipitated the move. I encouraged him to pursue opportunities that were popping up, but little did I know he would land such an amazing gig. He’s the new Director, Partnerships for Boat Rocker Studios, a really really cool venture coming out of Temple Street Media Ventures that describes itself as an original content creation space. I don’t know how many details I can give, but it’s a big deal and Carlos is a big deal part of it. I’m very proud. :)
What does this mean for me?
Well, for one, Lime Foundry will have a Toronto office! Helen and Natasha will run the Montreal operations and I’ll head the Toronto operations. We’ll all be collaborating online and visiting one another frequently. This is VERY exciting for me as it opens up all sorts of great partnerships and client opportunities in Toronto. We work with many clients remotely (Spokane to New York to San Francisco and back home), but being in Toronto allows me to network more effectively with this exciting market. We’re already in talks with potential Toronto-based clients who feel more confident that I can just pop into their offices for a solid afternoon of brainstorming. Even in our highly virtual world, face to face can make a difference.
I’m also doing a full-circle. I started blogging while I lived in Toronto. I moved there at the beginning of 2002 and really grew there. I grew up in a small town in Alberta and lived in Calgary (before it was all world-class and stuff) so going to Toronto was a real eye-opener for me. All of a sudden, I was a teeny tiny fish in a really big, competitive pond. I needed to hustle. So I learned to work harder and got smarter and more determined. It really prepared me for my big move to San Francisco and the career explosion that awaited me.
All of that is to say that I have gobs of good friends in Toronto, I know the city, I enjoy the scene and it’ll be good to return with everything I’ve experienced. I’m really looking forward to it. There is a faster pace I can’t wait to get back to.
I’ll Miss You Montréal
I’m really grateful to have lived in Montreal for the past 4 years. It’s an incredibly special city. Think about it. Quebec is a French/bilingual microcosm stuffed into this HUGE English-speaking (well, that’s the dominant language – the lingua franca) continent. That Quebecois culture survives at all in this scenario is amazing to me, but beyond that, the culture is so unique and thriving. It’s like a lovely droplet of Europe in the middle of North America.
I learned to wear scarves in Montreal. I learned to appreciate the importance of public protest in Montreal. I learned to relax and enjoy the crowds of the street festival in Montreal. I scheduled 2 hours for lunch meetings and didn’t worry about that second glass of wine. I realized it really WAS spelled Terrasse (and not Terrace) and that it is the only place to be on a sunny day. I came to realize that people could quarrel like cats and dogs, but still love one another in Montreal. I learned to not take anything for granted or make assumptions about people’s motivations in Montreal. There is so much wisdom in Quebec and SO much in Montreal. I attribute it to the bilingual/multi-lingual culture. Strong immigrant communities that exist in harmony with a strong Quebecois culture that fiercely protects it’s existence.
And darn right it should! There is something to be protected. Something worth protecting.
And at the same time, I could never really fit into it. Only admire it from the sidelines. The majority of that is my own fault. I really suck at learning French: both in taking the time to do it and the natural ability to pick it up. Also because I grew up in Western Canada, I can empathize, but not always sympathize with the Quebecois situation. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a big reason why the Conservatives have a strong hold in Ottawa (and why it’s going to be hard for even Justin Trudeau to unseat them). But a part of me not fitting in is because it takes a long time for anyone to fit in. You can become a Canadian or an American, but much like you can’t BECOME Japanese or French, you can’t really become Quebecois. I am forever going to be an Anglo in Quebec. Politely tolerated and very much made welcome by most, but never a full member.
That’s why I say I’m grateful for having lived there for 4 years. It’s like being hosted with incredibly gracious friends for a long period of time who make you feel very loved and welcome. It’ll never be your home, but you’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to live in it.
The Other Stuff I’m Looking Forward To
Honestly? I’m sort of like the Littlest Hobo. I like change. I get a kick out of new. I’ve needed to move on for a while now, so I’m excited to do it. Sure, I’ve lived in Toronto, but those were different times and I know WAY more movers and shakers now so I’m stoked about the new opportunities that brings. Does this mean that Toronto is temporary? Who knows? I just know that Carlos is excited about building something amazing with Boat Rocker and that could keep him busy for decades. :)
Another new that I’m looking forward to is a new space to live in…one that Carlos and I pick together (when we moved in, I moved into his condo, which is fabulous, but it never felt like ours 100%). I’m even determined to ditch most of our furniture in Montreal (the hodge-podge of stuff we threw together from each of our collections. “Whose sofa is newer?” “Mine.” “Okay, we’ll keep yours and get rid of mine.”) and build a space that blends both of our tastes more harmoniously.
Ridley, I’m sure, looks forward to all of the new smells and parks and bushes he’ll get to sniff and explore. He’s just happy when he has found the softest spot in the room. I’ve asked the apartment broker to look for places near great parks or with a doggie spa (many of the new condos come with these!).
My son, who temporarily moved back home while he looked for work, will stay in Montreal now that he’s found a great job and reunited with his old friends. He can come visit us easily when he gets time off.
I’m also looking forward to going to some Secret Pickle Supper Clubs, catching up with the local Toronto startup scene and participating in everything I’ve watched from afar from years as Toronto has become the kind of community I craved when I used to live there.
So if you live in Toronto, let’s connect! If we are already connected, let’s hang out more! If you come to Toronto, look me up! For those of you who already thought I lived in Toronto, you are no longer mistaken! (though they are very different cities and not ‘right next door’ as some have asked) ;)
Personally and professionally, I’m excited about this move. It’s time. And it’s for all the right reasons.