Growing Up in Northern New Brunswick: Part 2

The second part in a three-part short story series by Lori Noel about growing up in Northern NB. Originally published by The Whistler, an independent press in AB, Canada.

As the years away from my small hometown passed, I grew accustomed to the big city lifestyle. The energetic part of my twenty-something appetite loved the nights on the town, different cuisines, job opportunities, and people to meet.

I had done it. I had escaped my town, made it to the city, sought education, and was living the life I had always dreamed of. So what was missing?

Almost ten years had gone by since I’d spent more than a long weekend back home. Upon returning to the city, I’d always joke that it was nice to see everyone, but never for too long. “There’s nothing to do there!” I’d say. And my big-city friends would agree with a smile. Who would want to toil away life in that little corner? Separated from the world on one side by long deserted stretches of highways and a freezing ocean on the other.

Things changed the year my grandfather was placed in palliative care. I decided to return to help my mother care for the family and offer my support in whatever way I could. I bought a one-way ticket and packed a small bag.

I was finally going back.

After all those years, many things had changed in my hometown, and even more, had stayed exactly the same. The familiar streets and shops were comforting, and meeting up with old friends was pleasant as always. Strangely, however, something was different this time.

A month-long visit and I wasn’t dreaming of escape. The streets I knew by heart, the decaying boardwalk, and the abandoned beach – all no longer felt like something from my past. Suddenly, they felt like my future. The empty shops lit up with possibilities, and the people on the sidewalks didn’t look “stuck” as I’d always thought – they looked happy and peaceful.

Could it be? Could I be finished with my life in the city so soon? Is there something more to this town – something that eluded me all those years ago but is now standing in front of me like a glowing green light of opportunity?

I realized that I wasn’t just visiting; I was home. I wasn’t going “back”, but heading forward.

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