I've relocated a number of times. First to Montreal for university, a city that I ended up staying in for several years after graduation. Then to Toronto to seek new opportunities. Then back to Montreal because as many perks as it sometimes has, Toronto was simply not my city. And now to Ottawa, for both professional and personal reasons.

Each of those time that I picked up and moved my life to a new place were different. University was easy. It was the natural thing to do at the time and thanks to living in a dorm it was almost as though there were "instant friends" and an instant new life. Things were different for sure but they were for everyone around me as well so it was everyone's normal. Toronto was different. Harder. I got there and was jobless. I knew a few people and thankfully ended up extending my social network a bit (a huge thing since I ended up working from home). But many of those people had also left the city so leaving felt right. Moving back to Montreal was almost being in limbo. I knew that I had wanted to leave Toronto but didn't know really where I wanted to be. Montreal felt right but as much as it had things and people that I love it also wasn't the right spot for me.

And now I find myself in Ottawa, a place that I've moved to mostly for personal reasons (but also some professional ones peppered in there as well). Every other time I've relocated it's been just me (and the fake cat for the last several). But this time it's different because I've moved with someone. Someone who, despite having lived other places temporarily such as when we were in Montreal together, has never permanently relocated. While everything here is new to me for him it is stepping back to his normal life. The apartment in Ottawa is comfortable and mine and ours but it feels like everything outside these walls is "his".

I didn't even realize that I felt that way until the other day when he made a comment about how something was "the way we've always done it." It bugged me a lot at the time but it took a few hours to figure out why and when I did I unraveled a bit.

Quite simply nothing here, outside the apartment walls, is the same as I've always done it. Nor do I expect it to be after only a couple of weeks of living here. But it never really sunk in until that moment that the two of us are having two very different experiences living here. For him it's a homecoming of sorts. For me it's uncharted territory.

Sure there were signs of this but it never quite clicked. There was the time where I, extremely frustrated with never seeming to get my bearings, asked him for heck's sake please take the same damn route coming and going for once. While taking different routes is a great way to see the city it does help when one is familiar with at least one route first.  He did it because at the time each of those routes made the best sense to him in the situation.  My outburst of frustration led to a discussion about why I was frustrated and he's now much better at trying to take the same route (as well as explaining to me what route we're taking) and I try to pay more attention to where we're going since I know that we'll be taking the same route back.

I need to make more of an effort to get out there an establish myself in my new city. There are people I can call and meet up for coffee. I'm not friendless here. I'm simply used to being a homebody. And L? He doesn't quite realize exactly how social he is. But as someone who knows so little of the city and so few people in it and after months of both of us staying in so much (he knew only a person or two in Montreal) it feels very social to me.

When it comes down to it, at this moment, it's his city. He's lived here for most of his life. He has a great base of friends here and they have been very welcoming but when it comes down to it they are his friends.

Sooner or later it will become my city as well but it's a much slower process for a transplant. A friend's mother , who relocated not only to a new city but a new country as well, once told me that she believes it takes about three years to truly make a new place your own. By my estimation she's pretty on the money.

I've moved here. I'll make it my city. I'll put in roots. But like any transplant it's hard at first, digging into new soil, exploring the new ground. Especially when you have someone thriving beside you whose roots run deep. It can be overwhelming. I just have to remind myself not to be overshadowed by the deeper roots and to be thankful for them for showing me some of the best paths (I'll discover the others on my own). And to be thankful for them for attempting to be understanding of a situation they've never been in.