Sometimes the best way to understand your own city is by going somewhere else. After visiting other (larger) cities in the past few years, it’s an adjustment returning home. Over pineapple mojitos at The List last week, I was chatting with a close friend about why we love to travel. One of the biggest reasons is to have a break from the small town vibes of Winnipeg. In a large city you could call yourself Tatiana, develop an accent and pretend to be a Russian mafia princess. There is so much money, people and business in other cities that you can virtually be anyone and provided you can drop some dollar, dollar bills, you could get away with it. In Winnipeg the wealthy subset is so small that locals can match the Ferrari to the owner.
Last summer a co-worker was at the Rum Hut watching a Bomber game when a young guy came in, and started buying rounds of drinks for people. My co-worker was puzzling over who this guy was. We assumed drug dealer (typical Winnipeg assumption. Someone has money? They must have made it without the government knowing). A few weeks later, the very same guy showed up in an industry newsletter. Turns out, he inherited a local business. Suddenly we knew who he was, where he was from and how he had all this cash. This fishbowl mentality is brought up regularly in articles about Jets players. The players’ performances are analyzed and picked apart every single day. On top of the professional pressure, the players’ off-ice behaviour is gossiped and shared by everyone. If you’re a Teemu, it’s a wonderful atmosphere that celebrates your very existence. For the Evanders of the world, Winnipeg is less than ideal.
On a lesser scale, the average person deals with the same issues. Every personal change invites comment from someone. Over time as you develop more connections in the city, the less freedom there is to get outside of your persona. If you do alter your style, hangouts, habits, be prepared to answer to multiple people that want to know why. It can be both exhausting and frustrating to maintain or change expectations. This is why it’s so mentally and emotionally refreshing to try new things in a new place. Not all destinations are equal. My friend is going to be spending the summer in Europe while I am heading down south for a shopping trip. But hey, a break is a break is a break.