From Living with Over a Million to by Myself in the Middle of Nowhere
I am what you would call an undeniable extrovert. I love to talk and meet new people, so moving to Calgary, Alberta after high school from a smaller town (Medicine Hat) was a good decision for my well-being.
Calgary has over a million people, and I soon discovered how amazing it can be living in a city where you’re never truly alone (I even shared my house with three other people).
By the time university had ended for the semester, I packed my bags and made the decision to move into the middle of nowhere by myself. Well… I guess it’s not exactly the middle of nowhere… It’s 22 minutes outside of a village (not even a town) of 500 people (and I swear half of them are related… apparently the family reunions are wild).
Foremost is paradise for many of the farmers and ranchers that call this Southern Alberta haven home. However, for me it’s quite the change of scenery. (Oh, the things a student will do for a decent summer job).
To begin with, I didn’t have running water. What? Yep. NO RUNNING WATER. To think just a week before I was having a serious mental debate over whether I should go with the cotton candy or strawberry rolled hand made ice cream, you could definitely say this was a change of pace. I went from nightly candle lit bubble baths to scouting out the nearest outhouses and washing my face in the work bathroom. (Shout out to my boss for letting me shower in her house).
Why would a person ever want to make this change? Work. Moving to Foremost guaranteed me 65+ hours a week of work (Lifeguarding and being a Summer and Tourism Special Events Coordinator). I love working out here, but it also means living frugally in a trailer park (because finding rent in a farm town is basically not possible).
I had no idea what I was in for making such a big lifestyle change, but I’ll leave it up to you to judge whether or not the changes were good. Here are some of the biggest notable differences for me after moving from Calgary to a farm town:
I never realized how much of a luxury it was to be able to turn on a tap at any moment and have water just magically appear (I still boil any water I get my hands on here to ensure it’s safe).
While sitting in your office right off of Mainstreet, it’s not unusual to hear a “moo” come from the street… or look outside and see some people riding their horses to the grocery store.
The best office pets are absolutely baby goats because they like the sound of their hooves on the tile and jump and prance around all cute to listen to themselves (although they are a serious distraction from work and can be a nuisance if they’re not house-trained- noted).
Word travels reeeaaallly fast. While walking to the store my second day there, a woman I had never seen before stopped me on the street and asked me how I’m handling living in my trailer because she knows they’re doing construction in front of it and also that I do amazing art (what? Is this a stalker or…).
If you don’t wave, you’re a prude. Everybody waves to everybody. Cars to cars, cars to pedestrians, pedestrians through business windows, cops wave while passing you on the highway; Everybody waves. You NEED to wave.
Office conversation usually goes as follows: “That was quite the storm last night eh?” “Oh yeah but at least the crops are watered.” “Hey did you see that coyote that got hit on the side of the road? It looks bigger than the last one than got hit!”
That scene from any old Western movie where a tumble weed bounces across the empty dirt street actually happens approximately every four minutes.
You become attached to the crops you drive past every day and watching them grow and blossom is like watching your children grow up. “Aww look at how big they are! I feel like just yesterday they were nothing but seeds. They’re going to do big things when they grow up.”
When you don’t have wifi and you live by yourself, it takes approximately 27 seconds to get bored. You learn to appreciate the skillful art of washing the dishes and picking lint balls off of bedsheets.
Getting sucked into the sky and blown away forever is a serious and valid fear. Tornados happen fairly frequently on the prairies, and unfortunately sometimes it appears they have a taste for cute little trailers sitting on their own. (For real though the storms are so much more intense and loud if you don’t have a real house… At one point I looked outside and saw lighting hit the ground within 150 feet of me.)
You become a professional at swerving around rattlesnakes that are sunbathing on the highways (and noting the rotation of when RCMP do their highways routines).
On a drive to work you might see a rattlesnake, an owl, 3 hawks, a moose, a mouse, 6 gophers, a coyote, and a herd of deer (all in the middle of the prairies!!).
The BEST food you can get is the freshly grown veggies, eggs, or chickens from the Hutterites. They’ll flag you down when you’re walking to your car after work and sell them to you for a few small coins out of the back of a white van, but rest assured the food is healthy, delicious, and WAY cheaper than the food from the village store.
You become friends with everyone. From the kids who ride their bike to the pool, to the elderly woman who takes her daily morning walk, to the clerk at the village store, everyone is friendly and welcoming. Soon, this community becomes your family.
Overall, did I ever expect I’d enjoy living out where I didn’t have running water, a working bathroom, a house, or even people living around me? Honestly, not really. However, it gave me a whole new perspective on life, and even though I moved their for my summer job, my experience there was priceless.