I should probably go start some LiveJournal to whine about personal crap, but I don't have one, and I really need to get some stuff off my chest, so this'll have to do. :)
On Saturday, Marci and I are embarking on what could be a life-changing trip for a week to Vancouver, BC. I'll be sans-laptop, so if you need something from me, please let me know before then.
If you care about the long, rambling back-story, feel free to read more.
Last time my life took a radical change was back in 2005. I had just received my Canadian permanent residence, I was graduating college, and Marci and I were looking for a new place to call home. Halifax was starting to feel claustrophobic, and we wanted to move somewhere that had actual stuff to do that didn't involve 12-hour trips to Boston, where we didn't run into the same people every day, etc.
Montréal was appealing because it had the following things going for it:
- Size. It's the second-biggest city in Canada, with ~3 million people, rather than around 300K in Halifax.
- Proximity. It's a one-leg flight to either Marci's family in Nova Scotia or my family in Minnesota.
- Culture. There were actual bands that came to Montréal and played actual shows. :P We also really embraced the idea of learning a new language, and becoming immersed in French culture. It was going to be an adventure!
- Familiarity. We'd come to Montréal a few times to see shows and so moving here appealed more to us than moving to someplace like Toronto. Plus, Toronto was "scary" big. ;)
So, we packed up everything we owned, and moved to Montréal in June of 2005.
Later that month (the day after we got our Internet switched on, iirc), I found out that I was accepted into the Google Summer of Code program, and would be spending the summer working on Drupal. This was a tremendous opportunity, not only because I'd be able to somehow get paid to work on open source, but also because it gave us a couple of months' reprieve from having to find "real" jobs. So I spent the summer days taking in the sights from the city and the summer nights becoming obsessed with Drupal. ;) I vowed that once SoC was over, and I was slaving away in some boring office job doing .NET accounting applications, I'd still keep in touch with the friends I'd made over the summer.
In September, after SoC had finished, Marci and I decided to take the job hunt thing more seriously. We enrolled in some French immersion classes for about a month, and actually were doing quite well. In the meantime, my SoC work had led to some freelance Drupal work on the side which let me put off any serious job searches for another week or two, and then another week or two, and then... all of a sudden I found myself working more than full-time from my house as a self-employed Drupal developer.
Four years later, I now work full-time with Lullabot, which involves a big chunk of time traveling all over the world teaching people about Drupal. I also work another full-time job as a Drupal community member (which doesn't pay quite as well ;)) doing things like acting on the Drupal Association Board of Directors, co-maintaining Drupal 7, organizing initiatives to get new contributors involved, etc. I have a Drupal book under my belt, and get flown out to conferences to talk about Drupal stuff or more social issues like women in open source, and I get to spend a big chunk of my time collaborating with friends and on interesting problems that in some small way help change the world for the better. All around, life is pretty damn sweet.
Yet, all of these jobs and responsibilities make it really tricky to make it to those French immersion courses or, indeed, even leave the house at all most days when I'm not about to hop on a plane somewhere. I have many really good friends from all over the world who I speak with regularly on IRC, but the only friends I have in my own town are either people I see at Drupal meetups, or else cab drivers. :P (There's also kind of a weird dynamic at Drupal meetups. I can't just be Angie, some geek hanging out with her friends, because I have all of these stupid titles like "The Drupal 7 Core Maintainer." It can make socializing awkward. :\) The question I dread being asked most is "How long have you lived in Montréal?" because I get "the look" (and often times "the rant") when I say it's been years, and "No, I don't speak French yet, and yes, I'm sorry." It's given me a whole new empathy for what Mexican immigrants in the United States must have to deal with on an hourly basis.
So. The bottom line is I find daily life here in Montréal exceptionally alienating (because I don't speak the language, and I likely never will unless I give up at least one of the jobs that I genuinely love) and extremely lonely (because I don't feel like I have anyone here in town to just call up on the phone and invite over to play video games). And as a result, I spend more time on the computer than any reasonable human being really ought to. ;) It's great for Drupal, but not quite so great for my general self-esteem and mental health. ;)
When I flew out to Open Web Vancouver in June, it felt like coming home. This is both because it was literally like coming home -- my first-ever Drupalcon was in Vancouver, which directly led to a number of life-changing events, as well as great friendships that last to this very day -- but also because there's just something... I don't know... magical about Vancouver. I first visited there when I was a kid and our parents drove us all around the US and Canada one summer vacation. I've been back 4-5 times since then. Each time I'm there, I'm filled with wonder and happiness. It really made that particular trip back to Montréal even more dark and depressing than usual.
So Marci and I have had a heart-to-heart talk. And we're headed to Vancouver on Saturday for a week -- laptop free! -- to have as much fun as possible. To see if it'd work to make Vancouver our home base for the next ten+ years of our relationship. I'm both terrified and excited about the possibility. We'll see how it goes...