The 20th anniversary of our “short visit to Prince Edward Island” passed unmarked in mid-March. I first applied for a job here in February of 1993, foolishly saying, in my job interview, that I could start work “in a couple of weeks.” Apparently it takes longer to move your life across the country than “a couple of weeks,” but we made it happen by leaving Catherine back in Peterborough, Ontario for an additional month to mop things up and to wind down her own committments there.
I started work at the PEI Crafts Council, on an 18 month contract, on March 15, 1993. It was an ACOA-funded project to develop a database of suppliers to the crafts industry and Catherine and I never talk seriously about the idea of staying on the Island once the contract was up. But, as it happened, we ended up buying a house (a tiny house on the Kingston Road for about $40,000; how could we not!), and Catherine built herself a studio, and I transitioned from local database work to work on the (then novel) Internet with the Province, and we had Oliver and before we knew what hit us, we’d stayed a lot longer than 18 months.
Half the time I’m pretty sure that we’ll live out our years on Prince Edward Island, happy in the community we’ve developed around ourselves; the other half of the time this prospect deeply disturbs me and I start browsing the apartments for rent in Kreuzberg or Malmö or Tokyo or Bilbao. Presumably it’s this duality that prevents me from ever attaining full-Islanderhood.
In the meantime, let me take this opporunity to thank all the people who’ve helped us along the way; Prince Edward Island is an easy place to love and a hard place to like, and your kindnesses to us have made our lives richer and easier. I hope we’ve been able to reciprocate even a little.
In April of 2033 I’ll either be posting my “40 Years on Prince Edward Island” post as a 67 year old or I’ll be fondly recalling our two decade stint on the Island from the porch of my villa on the Adriatic. Only time will tell.
I remember spending an hour or two (or more) in the back room of the Crafts Council shop sharing with you my stacks of catalogues and sources back in early (March?) ‘93.
Thanks for all you’ve shared with me in the 20 years since, though I recall only one other occasion where that happened while we were both in the same room.
Looking forward to that April 2033 post. Belated Birthday Greetings!
I’ve known all along you were not born here, but following you blog and Twitter feed, it’s obvious that you love this place. I’ve never really considered you to be anything other than a true Islander. Congrats on your 20 years here, and I’m looking forward to your 60th anniversary blog entry!
Anyone is an Islander if they really want to be. (The people who say that isn’t enough are, I hope, a dying breed.)
The definition of an Islander is simple… anyone who lives on an Island. Just because someone was born here, doesn’t mean they are a “real” Islander. I’ve seen so-called Islanders break their beer bottles on beaches, such as Tracadie. Those people may have been born here, but they are certainly not real Islanders.
By the way, thank you for all the words you have written over the past two decades. You’ve touched on many issues that are important to Islanders.
Congratulations on this date as well, that’s quite an achievement, I don’t think I’ve lived 20yrs (in a row) in the same place hehehe
Oh Dear. We were friends before you moved. I am so old. Anyway, I am not to any degree an Islander, but I can say your merit badge looks very spiffy from over here. Congrats!