by Siim Kepp
|I stayed in Penticton, in the Okanagan Valley, British Colombia for about 5-6 months. I was visiting the same place for four days a few months earlier. I loved it. I just had to move there. It also helped that it was my girlfriends' hometown.
First thing I noticed was the people, living in Toronto for the previous six years, I'd forgotten about single-cultured communities and small-town bigotry, being initially from Estonia, I remembered quickly.
I stayed with my girlfriend in her bachelor apartment for the first month. I applied for two jobs on my 4th day there and got the second one on the spot. A cooking job in a sports and live music pub.
That month was rough, the commute was terrible. Transit there was pretty much nonexistent. It was a half-hour walk to my work and three times a week they gave me split shifts.
After that, we got a one-bedroom downtown. My new neighbours' house was proudly attached to a confederate flag, weren't they a bit too far north for that? What kind of a message does that send? "We're racist and proud of it". Their front gate had a sign: "NO TRESPASSING, VIOLATORS WILL BE SHOT. SURVIVORS WILL BE SHOT AGAIN!"
The distressing part was their two little girls playing in the sandbox directly under the flag. They will be useful members of society, right? I'm not saying they don't have a chance, but the odds are not in their favour.
The people working at the pub were very inexperienced. The Chef, a compulsive liar, exaggerated about everything, an experienced one-upper. Not a bad person, just overflowing with masculinity.
Fortunately for me, he liked me a lot.
Having been in the industry for years, soon enough, I was second in command. I got a bit of a raise and more hours, a lot more hours, more hours than I ever wanted. Regularly working 9-12 day stretches in a row.
I wasn't too happy about it, I work to live, not the other way round.
The relationship with my girlfriend started slowly getting worse. The more we spoke about what we want from life, the more we realized we're not compatible. The honesty of that relationship was second to none. We tried our best to make it work, but it was a battle we weren't going to win.
One sunny Thursday evening, we broke up, and I decided to buy a ticket back to Toronto.
I stayed for another month, and we tried our best to be friends. On my last night we stayed up watching movies and crying, at 6 am she drove me to the airport, and that was it.
I took a tiny plane to Vancouver and a bigger one from there to Toronto.
The fire season was at full blast, it was a clear day, but I didn't see anything out of the windows, smoke was everywhere.