I didn’t plan on Medicine Hat. I didn’t know anybody there, nor did I really know where it was. I didn’t know what to expect from the radio job I took there, and I certainly didn’t know how I was going to react to an Alberta lifestyle. I made the decision to move to Medicine Hat with the attitude of adventure. I wanted somewhere to be; a reason and way to start a new chapter.
Making decisions based off whatever life throws at you can be risky, but almost always rewarding and eye-opening. My decision to move to Medicine Hat, Alberta after landing a radio station gig there was one such decision. This move was a leap of faith, and while there were definite ups and downs, I learned a hell of a lot.
Let’s take it back to May 2018.
Moving to Medicine Hat
I was just about to take off to Toronto and Montreal for a week to visit friends when I got an e-mail from a Program Director at a rock radio station in Medicine Hat. He said his Promotions Director had just gone on year-long maternity leave, and he wanted to interview me for the position. I’d been looking for somewhere to be, and the fact that the gig was in Medicine Hat, Alberta — just six and a half hours from my family, the closest I’d lived to them in near a decade — was an attractive option, despite my lack of knowledge of the city.
I arrived in Medicine Hat on May 28, 2018, and first set up camp at the local Travelodge, and then at an Airbnb near my work. That said, it didn’t even take a week for me to find an apartment, which kind of blew my mind — the whole process was so easy. Until this point, every other apartment I’d had in my adult life was in Toronto, and it always took weeks to find a suitable place, and then more time to get references and cheques and everything set up. So, needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to find a semi-nice place in Medicine Hat in under a week. With a view.
But, in the beginning, I had zero furniture. In fact, for the first month, I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor of my new little apartment, reading and eating and watching TV on my laptop. I used this time to become accustomed to my new surroundings, going for long walks and checking out the local sites.
However, just a month later, I went back to my parent’s house, loaded up dad’s truck with all my stuff, and little by little my apartment began to feel like mine.
That summer was a whirlwind. A Promotions Director’s job is essentially to oversee all aspects of the promotions department of the radio station — this means writing proposals, going to sponsored events, and keeping up with community happenings. Within no time at all, I was eternally busy from endless events, the Medicine Hat Stampede, and personal adventures. Plus, I had the task of transitioning another local radio station over to Rogers, the company I worked for. What started out as me taking on a job for one station soon turned into two. And then, my promotions coordinator quit, which resulted in me taking on her role of setting up events and being a presence for the stations.
It was mayhem, and a tad exhausting, but it was exciting.
As with all mayhem and excitement, the rollercoaster soon found an equilibrium, and within no time at all I had settled into a routine. I hired a new promotions coordinator to take over a lot of the grunt work I was doing in addition to my (now) two jobs, and my free time opened up a bit. I started to take day and weekend trips around the area.
I checked out local spots such as the Medicine Hat Teepee, the river, and Medalta — the local historic clay factory. I hopped in my car and took trips to other places such as Elkwater, Red Rock Coulee, Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park, Drumheller, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Calgary, the Saskatchewan Sand Dunes, and Banff. Despite my workload at the radio station, this site, and as a freelance writer and virtual assistant, I got out of the house and explored as much as possible.
Yet, and I’m sure I’ll someday look back on this time of my life with rose-colored glasses, I hesitate to paint my time in Medicine Hat as a love story. The truth is that despite the initial mayhem and adventures, this was one of the tamest years of my life. Not to mention, for someone who considers herself naturally outgoing and who makes friends easily, Medicine Hat was a struggle in the sociability department.
That’s not to say I didn’t meet anybody, I definitely did, but there were few that I had anything really in common with, and overall I found the city to be somewhat cliquey. Friendships were made and then let go. Experiences were had and then put in the memory bin. At the same time though, I do give credit to a couple of very special people in the Hat, and my friends elsewhere kept me sane. We skyped and constantly messaged.
Living a tame existence is not something I’m all that used to, and to be honest, it’s not something that I necessarily enjoyed. A few years ago, I was out six nights a week and had to book time in with myself just to relax and reflect. While that was also not a sustainable lifestyle, it felt a lot more akin to my goals and personality. It felt like I was working towards something. Meeting people.
Having a contrary existence in Medicine Hat, Alberta took some getting used to. Not that I ever really got used to it.
A Learning Experience
That said, I learned a lot from this year. I learned how to be alone and not be lonely. I learned how to self-motivate, having written dozens of articles for various publications. I learned how to find joy in going on local adventures solo. And, most of all, this year helped me grow. I’m stronger because of what I experienced this year. I gained perspective for what I want in life because of this year.
Taking this contract position let me experience a culture without committing to anything. It let me say partially-mobile, and learn more about myself as an individual before I settle into a two-car garage and white picket fence. For the moment, I want to stay mobile, but I’ve also learned that there is a cost to not having any roots.
It’s such a strange feeling knowing that your time living somewhere is limited, and it seems that you have to make an extra effort to amalgamate. In fact, it’s been three years since I’ve let myself settle into a place. Not putting down roots means you’ll work to make friendships that you won’t be present for in a year’s time. It means working at a company and at a job while having one foot out the door. It means that most of your stuff is still in storage, and it means never really getting comfortable in your apartment.
At the same time though, it means savoring every second for what it is. It means getting out and experiencing all your surroundings have to offer. It means accepting the local culture at face value, for better or for worse.
So, what’s next?
In a nutshell, travel and a return to the digital nomad life. As I write this, I’m at my parent’s house in Saskatchewan where I’m slowly but surely working on putting all my belongings into storage. However, I only plan on staying here for a couple of weeks before flying out east to visit friends in Toronto, Cleveland, and to attend TravelCon 2.0 in Boston.
From there, while I do have a few more far-flung plans in the works, timing and specifics are a mystery even to me at the moment, and so I hesitate to announce anything. Stay tuned for more adventures, but it’ll probably be an update you as I go kind of deal.
As always, thanks for following along on this journey. It may not be the most smooth or well-planned, but it’s definitely an adventure. xx