After The Canadian Cross Country Road Trip.
ARTICLE #9: A drive through memory lane in alberta
How much do you remember of your past? How many life lessons have you attained from living carelessly or unknowingly and inevitably learn something valuable from it? Learning life lessons the hard way creates an everlasting imprint in your memory, sometimes to the point that you can see and hear and feel the memory come to life. We are meant to experience life in whatever way and shape that it comes at us. Having the ability to attain experience is single handily the best textbook ever provided in this state of life.
I’m sitting in my car on the Trans-Canada Highway in Saskatchewan heading towards the Alberta border. I left North Battleford early in the afternoon with the end destination of Lloydminster. The last time I saw Alberta was roughly over two months ago. I left with a weak mental state that needed to broken free. I was fortunate to have an opportunity working a job that offered financial security and benefits, but it provided very little into what I wanted to invest my time into which became extremely taxing on my mental state. It produced an outlet to bury myself in a position where I didn’t feel a need to grow and explore my creative and personal self. I left that mental state with the intention of wanting to reconnect with myself and hopefully gain some form of clarity of what could be my next step. With the Alberta border nearby, I came to realize while sitting in my car that the mental state I left with in this province was not forgotten, but a vivid memory. It was a lesson that I needed to have to better understand myself in trying times. Having the wide open spaces that are within this beautiful country has been a regular therapeutic session for me and has given me the ability to explore myself in a deeper manner. The intention of the trip was to get a chance to see Canada, to gain great photography opportunities, and being able to take a break from the noise that was in front of what I wanted to accomplish. The personal discoveries I gained throughout this trip was a blessing in disguise because that was one of the missing pieces of myselfthat needed to be exposed.I needed to invest time into learning the practices of bettering my overall self and implement them in my daily life. After I topped up my car with fuel which seemed like the 1000th time I made my way to Vermillion and took in the familiar summer prairie air.
For the last eight years, Alberta has been a great province to me. I remember leaving the Halifax Airport in March of 2008 with absolutely no idea of what I was going to do. I was told that if I wanted to get a higher paying job that Alberta was the place to go. I come from a community with an economy mostly driven in the fishing, boat building, lodging, mink farming and tourism industry. Other small businesses are doing well, but most of those small businesses have been around for some time. The family-driven business that has been handed down from generation to generation. With more people making a move across the country I wanted to try my chances and see where they would bring me. I ended up living in a small town called Camrose for the first five years. With a population of 17, 286 and located in the central parts of the province, this was my first impression of the prairies. I dropped resumes off wherever I thought I’d be adequate at the job and waited for the phone to ring. I lived with my uncle which was more than gracious to welcome me and offer me a roof over my head up until I could find a place for my own. At the time I was in a relationship with someone that made the journey with me from the East Coast. This period in my life was invested in the idea of joining a musical band. I'd been playing the guitar for about three years at this point, and I wanted to get into the metal music scene. I went to a local music store, and one of the sales rep, which I later found out was a guitar teacher, asked me if I wanted to come over to his place and play. Being that I had been in Alberta for about three weeks and didn't know anyone, this guy shared the same interest as I did I so I said yes. That became a very amazing friendship that I still regard as one of the moments in my life that have been incredibly inspirational and fulfilling.
With those memories coursing through my head while I’m driving on the Trans Canada Highway towards Edmonton from Vermillion, it’s almost like I’m coming back into this province with the same set of eyes. The idea of not fully knowing what was going happened when this cross country trip was going to be over had a similar feeling of when I first came out here back in 2008. I’d created a plan for what the next step would be in regards of Resonance Reflection. I will get a full-time job to replenish my funds, work on finishing the first phase of myphotography portfolio within the first three months of my return, and begin the next steps in the second project. The thing with creating plans is that all sorts of variable situations can come about with little to no warning. Adversity can appear and cause you to make decisions that might not fall in your favor. Ultimately it’s what you do in those periods in time that’ll materialize what will be your future. Having a calculated mindset that’s educated in the manner paired with your gut feeling and your intuition is about as good as it can get. Such was the case with my life in Camrose in 2008. I eventually gain employment with an electronic store that later became a cellphone store. I had a fantastic employer and great people to work with. The guitar teacher that I met became the rhythm guitarist and main composer for the band that we constructed through musical friends. We had our EP recorded and released onto the internet when platforms like MySpace, Reverbnation, and Unsigned we’re big. We played local and city shows throughout the life of the band. I thought that everything was going according to plan. Then the relationship that I was involved in broke apart and I ended up being the one that had to move out. I was fortunate enough to have the singer of the band take me in his home. I lived in his basement for several months which also served as the recording studio for the band. Our rhythm guitarist was living in a house which was shared with four other people, so when they all started to leave, he proposed that the band should live there. Now with everyone all living under the same roof with the same goal to attain, we got to work on our next EP.
My first stop in Alberta from my cross country trip was going to be Edmonton. With a population of 877, 926, and the capital of the province, I was here to meet up with some friends to catch up and get some little things taken care of. I spent the last three years in Edmonton working in the city and then eventually up north in the oil industry. Before I moved to Edmonton, I was still in Camrose working at the same cellphone shop and playing music with the band that I had been with for about two years. We were busy holding down full-time jobs and writing music and playing shows whenever and wherever we could. We would meet all sorts of amazing musicians and fans along the way. One show, in particular, was in Edmonton in one of the industrial areas where I met an attractive young woman that caught my interest. She was back in Edmonton from a trip overseas. We ended up talking in between the bands that we’re playing before us and played a game of hot hands after our set. You know you met someone interesting when you play a children’s game in a metal venue after four bands have obliterated your capability of hearing. We exchanged numbers and eventually started dating. The writing process of the band’s latest EP was going great, the relationship that I was building with this inspiring person was amazing, and it seemed like the world of Marcel was at peace once again. Its crazy how life can change in a short amount of time. One of the things that the woman I was dating would do every Sunday is head down in the rougher parts of town with a group of people and bring food for the homeless. A small group of individuals would get together in a parking lot, rain or shine or snow, and bring food and clothes that they would buy or donate to the homeless people within the area. I never seen this side of society to this degree and it was a real eye opener. These are the types of experiences that I believe has to be witnessed within someone’s lifetime. This woman had a strong belief of wanting to help the less fortunate that she quit her job that she went to school for in order to work in the homeless shelters. To this day she's still an inspiring figure that I was fortunate enough to share a small portion of my life with. She was a beautiful inside and out.
I’m on my way southbound of Edmonton to spend the night at my friend’s lake lot. I have known this great individual for several years, and I owe so much of what has changed throughout my life from his help. To give you a little context this is someone that from the day I met has showcased the entrepreneurial mindset that has continued to inspire me to this day. He and his family have been a second home with my time in Alberta. If it wasn’t for him, I honestly don’t believe I would be where I’m heading today sharing my work with you. Taking the time to catch up, you naturally look back in the past with all the good times you've had, and sometimes not so great. After the band had finished recording the EP, things started to fall apart. I was investing more time in the relationship that I was involved in and not with the band. I decided that I wanted to quit the band to concentrate on what at the time mattered most to me. It wasn’t an easy decision but it felt to be the logical choice. That decision inevitably didn’t work in my favor after some time passed. The relationship started to grow tension, and with the issues mostly deriving from me, we broke up. With the band members moving out, I was the last person living in this large home, so I started looking for roommates within the area. That turned out to be a terrible situation. The individuals that I managed to get were not fantastic. I was dealing with people who didn’t have a job, that was dealing with some form of substance abuse, and was terrible at getting bills paid on time that we’re all under my name. After several months, a recommendation came up for a basement suit that was up for rent in the nicer area of town. With no hesitation, I took the offer and moved out of the band house as quickly as I could.
I enjoyed the little time I had left with my good friends on their lake lot before I left for my next destination. My return in Alberta was going to be brief since I was heading towards the Rocky Mountains and then British Columbia. The next and last stop were going to be with my two dear friends who are from Nova Scotia. I continued driving eastbound on Highway 11 while branching off Highway 2 with surroundings that are familiar for the first time in a while. Central Alberta is where I explored the most while I was living in the basement suite in Camrose. My schedule consisted of a day off in the weekday and a day off on Sunday. I’d always try to make a purpose to go somewhere I hadn’t gone before, even if it wasn’t far away from home. With the musical band becoming a memory, and my love life shut down, I didn’t have much of anything to keep me entertained. I started running which became a hobby I enjoyed very much. I'd looked forward to a lap around one portion of the town every second night of the week. It was incredible to get out and go somewhere under your power covering a decent amount of distance. It became relaxing when I got used to it. One Christmas I got a gift certificate from my boss to a local gym which timed out pretty well since I wasn't a fan of running in the snow. I continued to get into shape, but the more I invested my time into the practice, the more I was drifting away from my creative self. My guitars we’re not getting used as much. That became apparent when I started to feel frustrated with myself. I didn’t feel like I was living to the extent that I could at the time. I felt unmotivated and unfulfilled. It got to a point where one of my good friends had a conversation with me. He shared to me something that I will never forget. “You don’t seem like yourself. You look like you’re just merely existing.” He was completely right. It walloped me. I knew what he meant. It didn’t take any amount of time for it to process in my head. Something needed to change. I worked on getting a practice schedule with playing the guitar. While running, I’d listened to music that helped me gain inspiration. It wasn’t easy, but it eventually started to pay off. Around this point in time Photography began to manifest in my life. Since I worked in a cell phone store, I had the opportunity to play with the smartphones that we’re starting to have fantastic camera’s built into them. I would explore the badlands of Drumheller, the Rocky Mountains in Jasper National Park, and the prairies that surrounded me. I started to gain momentum once again on myself and the creative side of me.
I got to my end destination with the welcoming of my two dear friends from Nova Scotia and their tremendously adorable dog. There a couple that I’ve known for a good deal of time. The wife has been a close friend of mine since Junior High, and I got to know her husband since they first came out here. There’s nothing like getting together with good old friends. We talked about what was going with the current state of our economy and then after a few drinks we went right into the funny stories of our past experiences while growing up on the beautiful East Coast. We all miss our families back home, and we keep talking about setting a date to when we’d be ready to go back to Nova Scotia. It’s not easy being far away from home. You miss so many moments that could be embraced and remembered in real time, not through your Facebook feed or email. I know that when I was living in Camrose, every Sunday consisted of a drive out to a lake nearby and the body of water would vaguely remind me of when I'd spend time at lakes that we’re near my home. I said my farewell to my good friends and thank them for their hospitality and moved on towards the north. I had the choice of heading on Highway 2 and then Eastbound towards the Trans Canada Highway which would bring me towards Jasper. That was going to be my end destination, but I decided to make a little detour and went north on Highway 56 which would bring me to Camrose. I wanted to see what had changed since I left. In the three years that I have been away from Camrose, I could count on one hand how many times I went back. Since the conversation I had with my friend happened back when I was in the basement suite, he tried to convince me to give oil field work a try. At the time I didn’t want to because it didn’t interest me. Then after a while, I started to think that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea. One offer came up with the company that he was working with and he pitched the offer towards my way. This time, I took the chance and went for it. The manager called back for an interview and several days later I had a call to advise me that I had the job. It was time to say goodbye to the small town that I spent the last five years in and head towards the capital city.
I worked in Edmonton with a heavy equipment rental company for one year up until I got an offer to work alongside an oil refinery that was being expanded. I spent two years there, right up until we got the letter that our services were no longer needed. The last six months I was out there I started planning my trip across the country. On my days off I’d be writing up a layout of what I wanted to do and what would be considered with my expenses, living accommodations, distance to travel, and emergency safety planning. Those last six months we’re hard on everyone. With the rumors circling about what was going on about the plant expansion, the less than ideal job security that presented itself each shift as people would get laid off, and the lack of motivation that was beginning to develop within the workforce, it was enough for some people to pack up and leave. I thought about how I handled this period while I was on the trip. I didn’t fair with the situation well. I was unmotivated and became bitter at the idea of heading back to work. It came to a point where one on of my co-workers called me out on my attitude. This is an example of why you need friends that aren't afraid to tell you to smarten up when you’re becoming a jerk. From that point on I tried my very best to have a more positive attitude. In March I told my boss of my intentions for the summer. In May we received the email that we were done with working on the oil refinery, so we had one week left to get all of our gear off site and be gone by the 31st. June 1st I woke up early in the morning, placed the keys to the house I was renting on the kitchen island and got into my car and took off towards the East, which then brings us up to speed to the last eight entries of the Canadian Cross Country Road Trip. My time in this beautiful province has been a great journey. I went from being a young guy with no clue of his life trajectory to an older version of myself that now has a little more sense of what I want to do. I’ve heard from very successful and influential people say that you spend your 20’s trying all sorts of things to figure out what you want to do, and then you focus on what you've discovered to potentially be your calling in your 30’s. If that’s the case, then I should be right on track. With my travels through memory lane ending with Camrose fading in my rear view mirror, I’m heading towards what I would consider being the most beautiful place in Canada, the Rocky Mountains.