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  • Trish Gagne

And just like that...

illustration of back of woman walking down a latvian street

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, we landed in Latvia.  If you need to take a minute to look up Latvia, go ahead, most of us had to. 

Exiting the plane brought on nerves that you believed were saved only for over-the-top amusement park rides, giving a speech to a room full of colleagues or, as I quickly found out, moving across the world and leaving everything behind.  

Driving through the city, you don’t feel the “being on vacation, discovering new places” excitement for this is not a vacation, it is now your new city, your new life. 

The structure and rigidity of this foreign city tell the story of years of endurance that we will never be able to comprehend and thus the understanding of why our Canadian smile and gentle hello are not always reciprocated. 

A tear or two may stream down your face as you have no idea what you have agreed to and why you left behind what was a perfectly wonderful life and you find yourself yearning for that comfort to just envelope you. You have never had to try so hard to do “normal” things and you desperately try to mask your fears and sadness beneath the cloak of “fake it “till you make it.” 

But then, just like that, it happens.  The sound of someone speaking English has never sounded more glorious! You can navigate your way to and through stores and streets, you have made a friend or two and have a favorite café and restaurant.  Just like that, you see the facade that many Latvians display, is just that, a facade.  They prove beyond your initial interactions that they are honest, caring, generous and, well, flat out lovely.  Your self-pity dissipates as you realize that yes, you are in a foreign country, a foreign city, but in a way so are they.  Their society has had to learn how to rebuild, trust, and love the newness that is upon them because after so many years, their lives are now new as well.   

We learn to come together, grow together, appreciate, help and trust each other with a foundation built on respect and fears. And just like that, you see the beauty in the parks and forest, eat great food, immerse yourself in the culture and finally, for the first time, genuinely smile. 

And all the while you have been longing for your “left behinds”, you realize you forgot to appreciate the gift of a beautiful (3 year) moment you have been given is right in front of you.  

And just like that, it happens.  

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