My Dear Red Deer

Everywhere I’ve ever been, I’ve always wanted out.

The small town I grew up in seemed designed to suffocate me. By the time I graduated, I knew every road, and a fair number of backroads. Cruising around town – on foot, on bike, in my ’83 Chevy Blazer – was how I passed the time till I could leave. I think I was drawn to the roads and the promise of escape they held in each passing mile.

Edmonton felt more my size. It was strangely cozy for all its enormity: instead of strangled, I felt cradled by the anonymity I had so long craved, the downtown noise just outside my window, the sense of being part of something but separate. I think I would still be there if I hadn’t been unceremoniously canned by some jerk.

I really should thank that guy.

Jobless, I retreated to lick my wounds at my parents’ place in Sylvan Lake. While there, I found my first ever communications job in Lacombe (the very job that would eventually lead to me meeting my husband). And the rest, as they say, is history. I came to Central Alberta eight years ago, and it truly was like coming home.

There’s just something about Red Deer that makes a girl want to stay. Its appeal is hard to pinpoint: I could talk about the amenities, the size, the area, the parks and trails, the people. But those aren’t the things that kept me commuting for two and half hours a day for the past two years instead of (much more sensibly) buying a place in the Edmonton area.

I stay because I feel tied to this city.

Red Deer is the place where my dad started his career as a young Mountie. It’s the place where my parents met (against the odds – a shy, quiet young man from Ontario meeting a thankfully less shy prairie girl at a friend of a friend’s party.) It’s the place I was born and the place I first lived, in a tiny white house in Morrisroe that my parents helped build with their own hands.

And Red Deer is the place I came back to. It’s the place where I started my career in communications. It’s the place where I met a husband of my own (against the odds – a chatty but shy young man meeting a thankfully less shy prairie girl through a friend.) It’s the place where I bought my first home, a tiny red-walled condo downtown that my parents helped renovate with their own hands. (By helped, I mean did. They did all the work.)

We often try to define Red Deer’s identity or appeal based on elements that contribute to the quality of life here. And we always struggle to say just what it is about Red Deer we love. It’s not the “things” we love – we can get those things anywhere, in any city.

Truly, Red Deer’s greatness doesn’t lie in the “things” that make it great; it lies in the great life you can build here in part because of those “things.”

I’ve built my life in Red Deer because, in Red Deer, I found a place I don’t need to escape from. Where would I want to go but here? 

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