Apart from the reliable "mind your Ps and Qs," no kernel of wisdom has been repeated more often by my precious 90-year-old grandmother than, "Kimberly, a change is as good as a rest." I am about to put that dog-eared adage to the ultimate test.
I'm tearing up the floorboards of my life, quitting my job of nearly 14 years, saying goodbye to my cherished family, friends, city and community, packing up the felines and moving to Seattle. To work for -- cue thigh-slapping -- a dot-com.
I'd say that qualifies as a change, though the rest part must still be ahead of me because I'm not getting much of it now -- and not just because I have a lot of Cancer in my chart and therefore recoil from thoughts of moving my home.
Every night I wake at least once with a spectacularly involved "things to do" list running through my skull. So many business affairs to untangle, change-of-address calls to make.
And since I have absolutely no idea what size apartment I'll eventually live in -- I start out in temporary housing until I get acquainted with the town and find something suitable -- I'm agonizing over what to bring, furniture-and-CD-wise.
Canada and America might share the world's longest undefended border, but it's still a border. And crossing it to live and work, I have discovered, is to watch your hard-earned American Express points evaporate along with your credit rating, 'cause they're a different company down there, donchaknow. And don't get me started on trading my OHIP for group insurance.
The imminent move has made me observe Toronto with great affection lately. I used to blast through Kensington Market (pausing at Pizzabilities, of course) collecting the vegetables and grains I needed for the week without pause.
Now I walk slowly, noting the rainbow of languages in the ether. Seattle may be the coffee capital of North America -- soon-to-be martini capital if I have anything to do with it -- but wildly multicultural it's not.
Sure, they have a big gay and lesbian population and lots of students -- not to mention hyper-vigilant environmentalists -- and there's a diverse music scene. They also have legalized guns, C.O.D. ambulances and George W. Bush.
People ask if I'm excited. I am, but I'm also terrified. I know no one there, and I'm told it rains. A lot. The job is a biggie, and I'm not entirely sure I won't suck at it, though it'll be nice working in a country where ambition is not a dirty word.
Best, I'll no longer have to respond cheerfully to endlessly repeated inquiries about whether I'll be living in a boathouse, ha ha ha, just like in Sleepless In Seattle.
Plus, I have a chance to start a new life in a new city where cruises to Alaska are affordable and the prospect of bumping into a hunky ex-boyfriend the one time I dash to the drugstore bare-faced in elastic-waisted sweatpants is completely eliminated.
Comforting thoughts all, even if I'm suddenly aware of how much I've taken for granted just because it's always been right here.
I'll miss not being able to eat authentic Greek (or Indian or Italian or Vietnamese) food en route to Harbourfront Centre, where I can hear awesome music from Africa (or Cuba or Brazil or Mexico) for free. And then drink a soul-soothing Bloody Caesar on the way home.
It works both ways. The lady who sells me flowers on Broadview Avenue is going to miss me and my iris fixation, though she probably isn't despairing as much as my veterinarian, whose future children have me and my geriatric pets to thank for their forthcoming Oxford educations.
But I'm looking on the bright side. The stress has proven to be an efficient diet aid. My boyfriend, god
bless him, is pledging frequent visits, a possible video-cam connection and an earnest attempt not to bag other chicks. My pals promise to check in every time they hit the West Coast.
Those cards and letters keep coming, and I've been humbled by going-away parties framed by supportive good wishes.
Still, as my grandmother turns 91 on July 26, I'll be too far away and consumed with getting settled
to hug her and kiss her and thank her for raising me right.
I hope she'll know, as she blows out her many candles, that neither change nor distance can ever dim the light of my love.
Kim Hughes leaves NOW after 14 years as a music writer and is heading for Seattle.