Thursday, 31 July 2014

Three Summers ago

We have now been living in Ottawa for 3 years, we lived here off and on since 1976, but with my postings there were long periods when I was away from the City.

Our return after many years abroad was not easy on many levels. Strange to say but there was culture shock when we returned and also a long period of adaptation. It is difficult to explain to anyone who has not lived abroad, physically out of Canada. Re-entering Canadian life can be very difficult, you forget so many things about life here, the attitudes, culture and the tempo of life in general. We had to re-learn a lot of things, life in Canadian Society has its peculiarities.

Going from a small office where you have real responsibilities to a giant one at HQ where you have no responsibilities and dozens of managers who are more of less incompetent is an adjustment. The first year back at HQ was difficult, nothing made sense and it felt like working with a bunch of chickens running around whose head had been cut off. More uncertainty, more lies and more hypocrisy about where we were going as a Government. Our Minister Jason Kenny could not bring himself to saying Good Morning to people, it was beyond his capacity, this is how much he loathe his own employees. Senior Management were shitting their pants so afraid they were for their jobs and all hoping they could retire before things got too ugly or out of hand. I certainly did not recognize HQ after a 7 year absence, too much had changed for the worst unfortunately. To many 20 something running around pretending they knew it all and had seen it all, they had a University diploma don't you know. To many experienced hands retiring or being pushed out because they were over 55. What is the point of staying anywhere if you are no longer wanted. Better to leave and forget the rest, and this is what I did, I can honestly say now that I have no contact with my former employer and frankly I do not miss any part of it.

We were lucky that we found a very nice apartment immediately, with good neighbours and were able to settle well in a pleasant surrounding. We also had our friends in Ottawa, they must have found us a little strange with our comparisons. We had to reason with ourselves and admit that there was no comparisons to be made and just stop looking at things in an odd fashion as if we could wake up from a bad dream. It is at this time that I started to remember old colleagues who had spent 20 or more years living abroad and never returning to Ottawa. When they finally returned near the end of their careers many simply could not live in Ottawa the cultural shock was too great.

Even today many colleagues retire elsewhere in Canada or abroad. We chose to retire to Ottawa for the time being.

I had the good fortune of having the presence of mind to start thinking about two years ago before my retirement of what I wanted to do once retired. I do not think I could have simply stayed at home and do a little reading and walk the dogs. Luckily I fell into a very good opportunity and it has worked out very well for me at the museums.

I also made a trip back to Rome in March of 2012 and this was a very good trip and was enormously helpful in focusing what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. It has not always been easy to go forward in the last three years but now I feel that we are settling in Ottawa and I have lots of interests in what is going on in the City and in the volunteer activities I am involved with.

Rome and Italy will always be with us and as we discovered anytime we go back and we have returned many times, it is like home. We are building a new life here and a more permanent one.
Renewing our lease for another 2 years also adds permanence and this is helpful to give us a feeling of belonging.

This painting by Giovanni Paolo Pannini of an art dealer's emporium in many ways reminds me of what I am now doing as a docent and how much I enjoy it and all the other activities connected to it.


1 comment:

  1. Signed on the dotted line for another 2 years, eh? Way to go!