It was great to be back in Ottawa for a few days last week.
When I went to school there a hundred million years ago, I always got the sense that the city was steeped in history. It felt old. I mean, I know it’s old. But it really felt historic. It felt different this time.
I remember myself, back in my first year at Ottawa U, when I lived in residence, and would walk to the grocery store. I can now see on Google Maps that is a 1.1km walk that would take approximately 15 minutes. (It goes uphill a bit.) I’m pretty sure we were still reliant on MapQuest back then. And I don’t remember wanting to print out a map. I had experience as a cadet! I had a good internal compass. (shifty eyes.)
I remember that walk felt like an eternity.
I remember feeling weight of the city’s history and it feeling a little lonely. I wondered what would have come of the city if the Queen hadn’t been like… “Ok HERE, I guess.” (Direct quote, Queen Victoria.)
I wonder if that feeling would hold true today, when I would have distracted myself on my phone the entire walk home, or just Uber’d my way back from the grocery store. There was a shuttle, but I think I was always too anxious to wait around for it to come back. Or I would miss it.
The French language being spoken out in the open everywhere feels like a warm blanket of my heritage. But that bilingualism is celebrated, and not solely Francophonie reaffirms my identité.
The city does still feel the same, but faster. The condos are popping up and changing the landscape of the Centretown of my memories. I walked, but I also drove around.
I reconnected with friends in general, and to do an improv workshop. I made new ones too. We worked on listening to each other, on being patient and taking our time.
When I left Ottawa I’d just received my anxiety diagnosis.
Coming back I felt like I decided to intentionally take my time. Be patient, and listen to the beat of the city. It felt good to be back. And still I wonder…