When I came to Canada for the first time, I came to Chilliwack straight from Nagasaki, Japan.
1999, August 27th, 12 years ago today.
I had a choice of Victoria, Chilliwack, Cranbrook or Kimberly as a gymnastics instructor.
Before I decided which town I should go, I researched a little bit. There was no "Google", so I pulled out a world map, and checked each city.
" Victoria, I have to take a ferry to go to Vancouver. Neh~."
" Kimberly, there are only 6000 population in the little town. Neh~. "
" Cranbrook, O-K-, but far away from Vancouver."
" Chilliwack, it is only 1cm away from Vanconver (on the map), it should be 30minutes train ride from Chilliwack to Vancouver! It should be good!"
So I decided to go to Chilliwack, without knowing that there are
no rapid train, buses run only 1/hour and rarely on-time,
takes 1.5 hours to go to Vancouver by highway bus and
takes 1 hour to get to the highway bus station by city bus....
When I got here in 1999 Summer, I thought,
"Where are all the people?"
"Does anyone live here?"
"Does anyone drive cars on the highway?"
Coming straight from Japan to Chilliwack, I felt this town is so empty. The population of the city of Chillwack was 65000 in about 900km².
That means one person has 13m as her/his own space without touching eachother.
The population of Nagasaki city was 455000 in 406km².
That means one person has 80cm as her/his own space without touching each other.
..... I am pretty sure I got this number right. (If anyone notice this is wrong, please let me know !!!)
I did not know anyone except the owners of the gymnastics club,
I did not know what is where,
I did not know how to ask which ways to go to where to buy what (if this makes sense..).
"What did I just do... I am here in a different country, with a little English, and I know nobody.... and I made 1 year contract..."
Eventually, I was able to adjust my Japanese lifestyle into Chilliwack lifestyle.
1 year plan turned into 12 years, and more to come !
I was filled with gratitude last night at the Party in the Park.
"Hi Mari, how's everything?"
"Hi Mari, how are you?"
"Hi Mari, your kids are getting big!"
"Hi Mari, oh you got a hair cut!"
"Hi Mari, where is your husband today?"
"Hi Mari, I haven't seen you a while! How are you doing!"
You don't know how much it means to me to have these simple conversations.
I feel like I live in a community where I feel welcomed!
Thank you, Chilliwack, for being just 1cm away from Vancouver on the map. If you were
3 cm away, I would not chose to come to Chilliwack.
You gave me everything I dreamed of.
Husband, children, extended family, friends, house, car, water, etc, and all are wonderful.