- Exodus -

Exodus in Seattle

Emma Hamilton Colyer

Photo : James Murray

“Join the Navy ; See the World”. Despite this enticing hook, my husband has seen little more than the inside of a submarine. Ironically, it was I that truly expanded my horizons, when I decided to follow him to Washington State, trading in my cherished maple leaf for the stars and stripes.

I now find myself calculating road trips in miles and the temperature in Fahrenheit. This is a small price to pay, however, for the mountains that greet me every morning from my living room window. After nearly six months, this is a sight that still takes my breath away. Although it sometimes makes me wince to be called a ‘navy wife’, I must admit that it is precisely this role that has helped me settle in so easily. From the first day I arrived, I was welcomed with open arms by many other women, just as uprooted as myself. The military life may not be easy at times, but I must say that it is nice to fall into a ready-made group.

There are, however, times when I am reminded that I am still somewhat of an outsider. The other day, for instance, I was asked to show my ID at a bar in Seattle. When I took out my Quebec Driver’s license, the bouncer told me, with a very confused look on his face, that he had never heard of that state. Had he not weighed almost three times my own weight I don’t think I could have held back my laughter.  I am but three hours away from the Canadian border, yet times like this I feel I may as well be on the other side of the world.

Someone asked me, the other day, what I missed most about Saint-Armand. A hundred things jumped to mind : the language, family, friends, the general store… And I think that when it comes down to it, it is the sense of community that I yearn for most. It is as simple as knowing that, if you go out, you will unavoidably run into someone you know.

That level of belonging takes a long time to establish. Although I lived almost 6 years in Montreal before moving to Washington, home has always been right here in Saint Armand. As I tentatively step into adulthood, that sense of home is beginning to shift. It is nice to know, however, that as long as I keep coming back here to visit, there will be friendly faces to greet me.

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