To Do. Repeat. Everything twice.

I’m treading water in the space between what pulls me down (chores, disciplining children, loneliness of having no close friends yet in the city we now call home) and what lifts me up (a threshold to cross where every day is a new adventure).

There’s nice enough people here in St. John’s. I see some other moms, and fewer dads, at the playgroups I frequent with my two sons while my daughter is at school. There’s one on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at the Newfoundland Sports Centre, it’s free, and the gym is MASSIVE. My wild child can run until his cheeks are flaming red, kicking and throwing balls, flipping over mats, crawling through tunnels. Several times a week I pack the baby on my back, push the stroller for the wild one (in case he ever tires), and visit various parks perched on the hills of St. John’s. I talk to people in grocery stores. At the library.

Still, I can’t help but think back to our last three moves and know that by this time, two months into it, I had at least one new best friend. Other than my husband, whose job is more demanding than ever, I find I’m very much on my own in a strange and colourful place with no close bonds yet formed.

I despise the sound of myself complaining. And so I focus my attention towards lighter facts. Like the fact that we have a doorframe next to the kitchen table where we can put the baby in his jolly jumper (one of the things we thought to pack ourselves, hence saving it from storage). The floor there is uneven, so we stuff pillows and a blanket over the knobby threshold and he bounces and squeals with delight, part of our family dinners. My kids may not have the huge backyard with play set we had at our old house in Thompson, but wherever we walk in this city, they climb, roll, balance on fences and retaining walls, and stretch their muscles in ways they never did in the flat lands we moved from.

After six weeks, we finally and officially became residents of Newfoundland. We got our driver’s licenses and MCP (medical care plan) cards for this province. Our vehicles registered. Our insurance, bills and mail organized. Sort of.

Let me know if you’ve experienced this before, because I really hope it’s not just us: having to do EVERY SINGLE THING TWICE. Go to City Hall to get a parking permit. Fail to bring one piece of paper with my name and new address on it (because I didn’t have one yet), go home, go back another day with all relevant information. Go to the vehicle registration office, they can’t get in touch with some official or other on their end, have to return another day to finish that process. Pick up forms for MCP, they are the wrong ones. Take the correct forms to the office that the website stated to go to in the Confederation Building, turns out it’s not the right place at all. Start all over again. This time, make a few phone calls (which takes at least an hour on hold) to discover that the office to get the MCP cards is actually located downtown.

The day I did finally get our MCP cards, I also got my driver’s license. It was a Friday. I could hardly believe that I’d finally have my new ID. Of course, both those things had already been attempted previously, but still, to accomplish two things in one day, all three kids in tow, it was amazing.

My husband and I celebrated with a bottle of wine and cheval noire, it’s our new favourite beer out here, Black Horse (not really called by the French name but that’s what we’ve been jokingly calling it, in honour of our daughter whose ability to translate half her English vocabulary into the other official language is growing at a surprisingly fast pace). Then we got a cold.

The weeks have been tinged with drama and drudgery. I am both amused and frustrated by the contents of this furnished rental: six ladles, four colanders, numerous pots with no lids and lids with no pots, and not a single potato peeler (I finally bought one).

And so, eight weeks after moving here, we (well actually, I) evicted us from this grand old home and embarked on a house hunt. Again. After looking at some other rentals, I got nervous.

This week, I changed my mind. I think we’ll stay put, maybe attempt to get a few more things out of storage. I know some gals who call it a “woman’s prerogative” to change her mind over and over again. I call it one of the fairer sex’s many curses. I think I slip into a bit of a depression every time I change my mind, then change it back again. What a drain of energy. I’d rather think of it as exploring all my options. All little too thoroughly.

I am grateful for the chance to live here in Newfoundland, a place I realize we may never have visited just as a vacation destination (it’s certainly not a cheap place to get to. It’s also, we realize now, the most expensive place we’ve ever lived. Everything does have to get here by ship, and apparently NL doesn’t have its own cows, because milk, for one, costs twice what it does anywhere else we’ve lived). I don’t mean to complain, really I don’t. But in keeping with the main theme of my blog, on relocation, I just want to be very very clear: moving is never easy. More to the point: being displaced is a nightmare. But we find things to enjoy along the way.

We explored some of the East Coast Trail over Easter weekend. WOW. Stunning. And we visited the lighthouse at Ferryland on a bluebird day. There’s so much hiking out here, and our family is at a stage where we can enjoy these things together, the kids running all over the craggy, moss and heather-covered rocks, the baby in a backpack.

I’m also discovering some of the most amazing writers. I’m reading Lisa Moore’s February, and I’m absolutely blown away by this haunting, touching story. This is Moore’s fictitious tale based on the very real, horrible tragedy that happened off the coast of NL in 1982 when the Ocean Ranger rig sank into the frigid depths of the Atlantic, killing all 84 people who were stationed on it that Valentine’s evening. Perhaps it is my choice of novel, but I’m starting to think that one thing that characterizes Newfoundlanders is sadness. I don’t know how anyone who is from here, could not have been touched in some way by at least one of the many many tragedies that has occurred here. Tidal waves, severe storms, and countless instances of lives being lost at sea. I can see why so many people here have a true love hate relationship with the ocean that surrounds them.

I joined the Writer’s Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador, WANL, and I’m really looking forward to tapping into that group. It seems to be a very strong, active organization here at the most eastern tip of Canada. And perhaps as I do get to meet and know other people here, I will find the humour, and not just the sadness, that I know lives here too.

Explore posts in the same categories: family, moving, parenting, relocation, Relocation and Writing, writing

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69 Comments on “To Do. Repeat. Everything twice.”

  1. Welcome to town, Carrie. Many people go through the same thing on arriving. See you around.

  2. Best of luck to you! And I think you forgot to celebrate with the bottle of wine. Twice. I only see reference to it once…


  3. emjayandthem Says:

    I loved this; so heartfelt and yes, I agree with you, moving is just .. hard. No other word to describe it. Congrats on being Fresh Pressed today 🙂 MJ

  4. Great post. I understand how moving can be scary, because I have those same feelings you have. Hoping you find a good friend in your new town to make the sad, lonely times less so.

  5. Harold Says:

    I agree moving is never easy, especially if you are moving to a different area. Now that you got the tedious “chores” done you can relax more and claim where you are for you.
    A nice read, thanks. Congrats on being FP!

  6. Air Zimbabwe Says:

    Nice article, Thanks for sharing a great experience of your life with us. It really helps a lot of people to find a better place to visit in their vacations.

  7. I can so relate! My partner works as an international aid worker who specializes in disaster response, so we spent 2009 living in Vietnam and 2010 in Haiti. Arriving in a new place where you know no one is difficult–probably even more challenging if you have children, which we don’t. And, yes, things are expensive when you live on an island–surprizingly to us, Haiti was the most expensive place we have ever lived.

    We are home in the US now for a few months, before Sara is reassigned. I am enjoying home and working on a memoir about my recovery from bipoar disorder, before we head off again.

    Hang in there!


  8. You are unbelievably courageous in your adventures! I am both envious and in awe of you. What a beautiful write as well. Thank you for this and good luck!

  9. I don’t know why i found myself reading your blog, I think it was because I had just finished writing something myself and was in the process of logging out. You just kind of caught my eye, and as I read I realised that I have virtually nothing in common with you! But you know something I just enjoyed the read, the style that you write in made me want to listen to your story.
    Even without the picture you posted I could kind of feel a sense of isolation of sadness.
    Every day is a new adventure, I like that. Something else I read today that said ‘ You don’t drown by falling into the water, you drown by staying there’ I sense you’ll be fine, keep writing I like it. Thanks

  10. Deborah the Closet Monster Says:

    More to the point: being displaced is a nightmare. But we find things to enjoy along the way.
    These words struck me as true not only of moving, but of all of life. Well put.

    I hope it’s not too much longer before you’ve found your new best friend.

  11. Congrats on making FP. I liked your sincerity about your experiences of moving to a new place! 🙂

    Newfoundland looks really pretty, and I would love to visit it. Someday my husband I plan to do a trip to check out Eastern Canada, and another time to check out Western Canada. Someday! 😀

  12. the happy (sappy) blog Says:

    I hope you don’t mind my commenting. I saw your blog through Freshly Pressed. Your writing compelled me to keep reading and you write so genuinely and honestly. I wish you all the best in the new writing group and I think you will find great friends there.

  13. I enjoyed this post. It really spoke to me. I grew up moving around and experienced doing things 2x, 3x, 4x. And, as I traveled I had to introduce myself a lot. I felt I got very good at you guessed it…introducing myself. Writing offers the chance to push beyond those confining boundaries.

  14. beautiful -thanks for writing so honestly.

  15. It sounds like you are making a few inroads. Keep pluggin’ away.

  16. Walter Says:

    You are an adventurist. Any sort of change is difficult and it doesn’t sound like you are complaining to me. You are stating the truth of what you are experiencing and I find it fascinating, especially when I think how very far away Los Angeles is from where you are!

  17. iamnotavegetarian Says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog, I will soon be re-locating to the East Coast myself…If you have any advice on moving (ie, moving companies, etc.) I would really love to hear it! Thanks and good luck.

  18. mel0980 Says:

    You are a truely amazing writer. I was just in an awful mood just now, after attempting some school work and failing. But your outlook on life has moved me, and I truely appreciate it. I’m definately subscribing to you, please keep this up, I want a good read every now and again.
    Thanks again!
    (Take a quick peek at mine if you have a chance please?) Thank you x

  19. realanonymousgirl2011 Says:

    I think anytime you have to do something involved with legal papers, you end up having to do it twice. For some reason there’s always something missing, wrong paperwork, wrong person, etc.

  20. ournote2self Says:

    I’m not a fan of moving, but I do love change. Good luck in your new adventure!

  21. waterwart Says:

    hi do you have sea glass on the beaches? if you have that you can afford milk cause its worth a lot of money.

  22. judithornot Says:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve moved from one area to another. But today I noticed I’m having to do things over/again, because my mind isn’t focused on what I’m doing. Too many things to think about. Maybe make lists? It sounds like you are already feeling better. 🙂

  23. Catie Eliza Says:

    Those bouncy things for babies are the best ever!! I had one when I was a baby, and the photos are always such happy ones, we lived in a building sitr of a house for the first few years of my existence and my mam and dad felt they wished they could bring up children in a more neat and well kitted out place, but you know, love and simple fun are the most precious things. :] I hope you find some lovely people just on your wavelength to be friends with soon. :] xx

  24. Rob Says:

    I like this post a lot.

  25. You can go whale-watching now! I love Moore’s writing — read Jessica Grant, one her favorites, as well. I feel for your sense of dislocation, but I suspect you’ll soon feel at home.

  26. Deborah Carr Says:

    Hi Carrie – so glad to hear you’ve joined WANL and welcome to Atlantic Canada! I haven’t checked your past posts to see where you’ve come from, but I’m an NB writer, member of PWAC (Professional Writers Assoc. of Canada) and WFNB (Writers Fed. of NB). It helps to join a community of writers. I’m sure you’ll love Nfld. Your blog was featured on the WordPress site, and I was drawn to it as I recognized Signal Hill.

  27. gmomj Says:

    Be sure to order Screech when you go out with husband. It is considered the national drink and will garner you all sorts of approval. Most Newfies drink it at every meal.

  28. Tammy Petry Says:

    Hi! I really enjoyed reading your blog! I am starting my own blog and have just begun my webpage. I am a writer too and I think you are amazing. I felt transported to a place I’ve never been to before, although I do “feel your pain” when it comes to moving and doing all that paperwork!!! I hope things get better for you up there, it looks BEAUTIFUL! I sure miss the ocean and the northern climate but I moved here for love and it’s been wonderful. Anyway, just wanted to tell you I will follow your blog. I’m going to set up my wordpress account now. Take care my writing sister!
    Tammy 😀

  29. thor27 Says:

    I like writing too. Check out my blog at

  30. nazarioartpainting Says:

    I spent a summer vacation in St. Jonh Canada when I saw your picture of the house I remember that place. I went with my husband and I visited Peggy Cove’s.That wonderful place inspired me a wrote a short story and painted a small oil canvas about Peggy Coves. You can find
    Was a dream St. John’s I hope one day return there because I love the weather, people are really nice and a very clean place. For me St. John’s is to be dream.

  31. boomrethink Says:

    Enjoyed this post very much. And, yes, why do we have to repeat everything twice? I am not sure but I have had the same experiences. I have started to chalk it up to my adage that things cannot be easy…simply because they cannot be so. Loved this post.

  32. Oh my, I’m packing for a move from Indiana to Oregon. I too expect the time without close friends. I am hoping that my quilting and knitting interests link me with a group, but it is a major gap between the casual friendships and real friendships, the kind where you call and say , “Hey come over for a cup of coffee.” I wish you well!

  33. Jess Witkins Says:

    Sounds like a lot of new adventures for you! Good luck with the moving process. The photo you posted makes the area you moved to look gorgeous! I hope soon you and your family will be settled and that you find some great people to befriend and show you more places around town. Until then, have another glass of cheval noire and teach your wild one to say Cheers in two languages!

  34. O.R. Says:

    looks cool and seems really interesting.

  35. pattyabr Says:

    congrats on FP status

  36. Sai Krishna Says:

    Nicely put…

  37. Sony Fugaban Says:

    What a beautiful place you have there …

  38. Bill Lewis Says:

    Moved to Michigan 3 years ago. Can’t get a carlicense without a drivers license; Can’t get a drivers license without utility bills to prove you live her: If you are working paperless, on line billing is not acceptable. Ahh the wonderful world of beuracracy; wait wait, come back later etc etc.

  39. ladyberrington Says:

    thanks for sharing…
    whether you knew or not – intended it or not, your readers can feel a bit of what the move is menaing to you…at least today as you were writing it haha

  40. codester Says:

    Love the insights into your relocation. My wife and I are looking at relocating to New Brunswick in six months from Calgary. The thought of digging up our roots and setting them down across the country away from family and friends is a bit scary but also a bit exciting. Glad to read it’s possible. I’m sure with a bit more time you and your family will settle into life in St. John’s.

  41. Just Jocie Says:

    This was a lovely and insightful post. I can see how it is frustrating for you at the moment with everything you have been going through regarding settling in to your new home place; I think it’s okay for you to complain – it is scary and sad to not have a friend. Family is amazing and irreplaceable, but sometimes we just need that friend that we can talk and vent to. The way you are keeping your outlook positive and looking forward and appreciating what you do have is truly wonderful though.

    May God bless you and your family in all you do 🙂

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  42. richannkur Says:

    Nice article…

  43. t0inks Says:

    actually, that tiny trait of changing our minds every second is one of the highlights of being a woman.. 🙂 all the best to you and to your family..

  44. Ah! This sounds all too familiar 🙂 After almost 16 years in Norway I decided to move on. England became the new destination, and arrival was 6 days ago. So right now I am still trying to figure out how things work. For now surprisingly easy. I am guessing a lot of EU regulations make it possible.

    If Newfoundlanders are in any way as the Scandinavians, which it very much sounds like, it will take a lot of effort from your side to not only get to know them – but to keep them around as friends. I hope the best for you and that things do settle a bit faster from now on.

  45. good story
    good story

  46. There is so much to digest in your post – you have given a vivid description of the pleasures and pain attached to moving. You’ve also made me wish to visit Newfoundland.
    I’ll settle on one point for a comment – prices. The price changes from one location to another can be surprising.
    We moved from London to a small town on the coast some years ago. Our coastal town is surrounded by countryside with cows, lambs and farms. Yet fresh meat and vegetables are more expensive here than they were in London. It took me a while to work out that this is because London is a distribution centre for food. Fresh food is taken to the big wholesale markets, and then shipped back.
    I’ve gradually learned to eat local produce such as fish, purchased from the wholesale shop at the port.
    Also, farmers’ markets have developed, so that it is much easier to purchase local produce directly from the suppliers.
    It can take a while to acquire local knowledge – hang in there.

  47. l0ve0utl0ud Says:

    Moving to a new place is never easy, and each location brings its own experiences. You are right to enjoy what is at hand and to look on the positive side of things. Comparing places and/or experiences is futile: nothing is ever the same 😉

  48. Ed Williams Says:

    VERY enjoyable read Carrie. Hang in there to find a “friend” or two. With words and thoughts like yours, you should have them “clamoring” for you (?) in no time. Best wishes in your newest location!

  49. Kemi Says:

    I hope you enjoy Newfoundland in your own special way :). K

  50. Welcome to the Twilight Zone. lol

  51. I came across your blog on “Freshly pressed”….

    It’s not just you! I have always joked about the fact that you end of having to do all the crappy things twice and wanting to do the cool things twice (but never do). Every time I visit an amazing place, in my last hours there I say, quietly to myself, “I will come back”. I usually remember those thoughts when I am on the phone with the cable or insurance company for the second time, or hanging a fallen curtain rod for the second time (because I did a half-assed job the first time!)

    It sounds like you move a good deal, and with three kids I give you a lot of credit! After I post this comment I plan on reading through some of your older posts…I have read a few and can say that I enjoy your writing and can relate in many ways.
    I often feel that more and more people live as little islands, and not as part of a whole. It makes me want to go into the business of building little bridges…:-)
    May you find yourself amongst friends soon!

  52. Margie Says:

    We moved to England for two years, and that was a hard place to make friends – the British reserve. But it was the best place ever to explore, so rich in history and sights. We lived in the Middle East for 3 years and I made lots of friends – all expats like myself. And it was the worst place ever to explore, sand is only interesting for so long.
    I think I would like Newfoundland. Good possibilities for both friends and sightseeing!

  53. This is positively lovely. And your experience of the lather, rinse, repeat is similar to what I experienced when i moved from New York State to New Orleans. But I immediately grew to love N’awlins, and now that I’m back in Yankee territory again, I miss her something fierce.

    Congrats on being FP’d.

    Come and visit me sometime. But not today. Today is a guest post, written by someone else! 😉

  54. I have not known any other home. Yet, I had to smile at having to do over everything twice. I think that is an axiom of all governments since ancient Greece.

    You are an excellent writer and I enjoyed reading your blog today.

  55. I know it can be tough to relocate. I moved 2 years ago and I still feel like I have no friends. It’s the first time this friendlessness has happened to me and it kinda stinks. I feel your pain in that respect. Sounds like you’ve got a great attitude though and you’re making it work. Keep up the good work.

    On another note, The Domestic Fringe is hosting Fiction Friday tomorrow and every following Friday. I hope you’ll consider joining us. The details are on the link below.

    Nice to meet you!

  56. thor27 Says:

    Check out todays blog.

  57. […] ask this in our frustration.  A recent excellent post by Carrie Breck echos this sentiment with a story of dealing with government workers in a relocation move to […]

  58. taureanw Says:

    That’s the annoying thing about life, it takes up so much time…

  59. Great post thanks for sharing. Your layout is excellent. I enjoyed reading today’s article very much.

  60. Michelle Says:

    Oh Carrie, I can totally relate to how hard it is when you have to start all over making friends. You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself. It can make you feel bereft! These are the times that make you really appreciate how incredibly important good, close, connected friendships are. I hope you make one soon.
    As for the red tape, Newfie style, it reminds me of living in Italy! Only make it 3 or 4 times, and add waiting at least an hour in line each time…

  61. T Andrews Says:

    Great blog, great post, keep up the good work 🙂

  62. Sounds like a lot of new adventures for you! Good luck with the moving process. The photo you posted makes the area you moved to look gorgeous! I hope soon you and your family will be settled and that you find some great people to befriend and show you more places around town. Until then, have another glass of cheval noire and teach your wild one to say Cheers in two languages!

  63. We moved to England for two years, and that was a hard place to make friends – the British reserve. But it was the best place ever to explore, so rich in history and sights. We lived in the Middle East for 3 years and I made lots of friends – all expats like myself. And it was the worst place ever to explore, sand is only interesting for so long.
    I think I would like Newfoundland. Good possibilities for both friends and sightseeing!

  64. airzimuk Says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks for upload

  65. Thanks for sharing content to read.

  66. I really appriciate ur efforts and good work. so keep it up.

  67. […] mentioned in a previous post, I’ve had quite the friend drought since moving from Manitoba to Newfoundland. But the tides are […]

  68. […] the universe and the sixty or so people who left messages for me when I was Freshly Pressed after this post, at a time when I was feeling particularly lost. I apologize for not thanking each one of those who […]

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