I walked into the vehicle registry office and made eye contact with a woman I had seen many times before. It was about my tenth time visiting Autopac, and I was at the end of a long journey to switch my license over from Alberta to Manitoba. Because I am a full time student, I was able to keep my Alberta license for longer than usual, but now that I fully knew that Manitoba was going to be home again, it was time to make the switch. I finally had everything I needed, it seemed, which was a laundry list of different forms, vehicles inspections, and concrete proof that I was who I said I was.
I sat down in front of the same woman who I had seen many times before, and enthusiastically presented her with about 8 different pieces of information that had taken enough time and money for me to be happy not to have to go through this process again. She looked at them, and made a face I was all too familiar with.
“Ok, it’s almost perfect, but they’re not going to take this one.”
I let out a sigh, walked back to the bank to retrieve something different, and filed myself into the pre-weekend line. As I stood behind a line of people with their heads tilted down, staring at their phones, I began to remember the process of switching over my license when I moved to Alberta.
It was a hot day in Calgary, and 20 year old Diane was skipping around downtown. Alberta was prosperous in 2007, and I felt a sense of adventure when I packed up and left the comfort of home, even if it was only a days’ drive.
I open the doors to the registry, and there was only one person behind the counter. I was still quite chipper everywhere I went at this point, and I walked up the counter, smiling as I pulled out my Manitoba license. With a very straight face, the man looked at me and tapped a sign that said “Please take a number”.
I chuckled, thinking he was joking. There wasn’t another customer in there other than me. I began talking again, and with no words, he once again tapped the sign. I made a face, pulled a number, and began to walk towards the seating area. Just as I sat down, he leaned close into a microphone.
I appreciated his commitment.
Now, chuckling to myself in line at the bank, I grabbed the last piece of paper I would need to become a Manitoba resident. After another two hours at the registry, and telling the woman I really thought we should get best friend necklaces at this point, I walked out with a new license and plates.
Sitting in my car, I stared at the license plates. I realized, this was it, this was the last part of me that was tied to Alberta. When I came back to Winnipeg, I was headstrong on the belief that I would return to Alberta after I was done university. I had loved the mountains so much, and I had carved out a life there.
But things change. Plans change. Feelings change. Life changes. Alberta had my twenties. I spent them laughing, meeting people, figuring out what I liked, climbing mountains, camping, and falling down. I spent them looking forward to visits home to Winnipeg, and growing increasingly sadder through the years when I had to leave my hometown. In my later twenties, I began to realize that home wasn’t necessarily a place, as hard as I tried to make it one, and that the community I was raised in had more of a hold on me than I once believed.
Now, settled back here, I couldn’t imagine leaving this place. There is a comfort in this city that I cannot get anywhere else, and while I am thankful for the adventure and growth that Alberta gave to me, I cannot hide the smile when I walk to my car and the phrase “Friendly Manitoba” meets my eye.
Thank you, Alberta. Thank you for the life you gave me for 10 years and the priceless friendships that I hold close to my heart. Thank you for teaching me that distance cannot break the bonds of love, nor soften them. Thank you for everything.
Thank you, but I’ll take it from here.
Have a lovely weekend,