A letter to Mina Wong from Josie Knight
I hope you remember me. It’s Josie Knight, Anna Bradley’s neighbor who asked you for a copy of Learning Curves in 2020. You encouraged me to submit a story, so here I am, sharing my travelogue.
Last spring, my son and I moved from Burlington to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and then we travelled north again to Edmonton, Alberta that had promoted good opportunities in a growing metropolis.
We left Burlington after selling the home we had shared with Patrick, my partner for ten years. Derrick, my son who’s sixteen now, grew up in that house with Patrick and me. But when Patrick left a year ago, I sold our house and moved, as a single parent again, with only Derrick by my side, exactly like ten years before.
COVID and sub-zero days made spring 2021 an awkward time to travel. Still, we trudged steadily across three provinces in a tough little car and U-Haul that didn’t give us any problems!
We visited my mother’s sister in Moose Jaw, and that’s the bubble we stayed inside for nine months with Aunt Kathy and her husband, Lenny. Living like Moose Javians, Derrick and I happily joined Kathy and Lenny at a local clinic for COVID vaccines.
Both retired schoolteachers, Kathy and Lenny certainly enticed Derrick every day with post-secondary dreams. During our stay, they also showed us awesome beauty in their small city.
Moose Jaw was truly beautiful when it was winter, when it was summer, and when the most magnificent sunrise and sunset dazzled our street. Kathy and Lenny also loved Derrick and me so much that we wanted to stay forever.
But we both knew we had to move on, to where I could find work, and where Derrick would start university this coming September. While Moose Jaw’s local college had some courses for me, university for Derrick would’ve meant leaving for Saskatoon or Regina.
Soon, we trekked further north, to Edmonton where the new mayor endorsed an impressive consortium of post-secondary schools. We were thrilled by the thought of success in northern Alberta where Derrick could study sociology at a good university.
We arrived in Edmonton ten days before Christmas and pampered ourselves silly for a whole week. Then real estate agents found us a twenty-second floor apartment with a heavenly view. Perched high above downtown and the river ravine, this is where Derrick and I have settled down to build a new future.
Having to complete a marketing diploma, I am delighted that almost all local schools teach the courses I need. A dozen colleges and universities in Greater Edmonton should mean plentiful choices for me, as Kathy and Lenny always say, “Everything is possible if you believe”.
Post-secondary education in Edmonton unfolds full-fledged public and independent schools that actively collaborate with institutions outside Alberta. Otherwise, there are always local private career colleges with short programs.
To compete for a university of his choice, Derrick is hunkering down to finish Grade 12 by April. I am looking at marketing programs, and can’t wait to start spring courses at a downtown university close to City Hall, libraries, art galleries, parks, and shopping malls.
I wouldn’t end this letter without sharing two new learning experiences. One is my job as marketing assistant, for a boutique hotel restored from a dilapidated hostel. When my work starts on February 1, it will be high tech, busy, sometimes frantic, and always focused on results in sales and revenue. But I can adapt to an energetic pace and ambitious benchmarks, just as I look forward to applying my studies to marketing strategies for hotels.
My second lesson is actually in discovering how change and opportunity can motivate me. When Patrick and I separated, I felt so lost with grief and heartache. Being a single parent again was also scary and stressful. I wasn’t sure if I could provide properly for Derrick. I also didn’t know when I would pick up my studies again.
So, accepting change has shown me that prospects exist everywhere, and that Derrick and I will build a new life in northern Alberta.
Like Moose Jaw, Edmonton has breathtaking sunrise and sunset, although winter daylight becomes twilight by mid-afternoon. But like Burlington, our new city is a hub of opportunities for learning, career paths, personal growth, and economic prosperity.
I will keep reading Learning Curves online, and let Albertans know about this newspaper that invites adult learners to share their experiences with each other.
With best regards to you and Learning Curves in 2022,
Josie and Derrick.