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Hi.

I’m Hannah. I write words, chase joy, read books, build habits, make lists, and drink coffee. Care to join in these adventures?

Three Cheers for Three Years, Edmonton.

Three Cheers for Three Years, Edmonton.

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A love letter to a city that was supposed to be a three and a half month experiment away from Ontario, and turned into home in the process.

Dear Edmonton,

Three years ago, I sat in the Hamilton airport with a duffel bag and a backpack, two suitcases already checked in at the WestJet counter. I listened to The Oh Hellos album twice through. I picked off my nail polish and drank through a coffee and then a tea. I journaled. I downloaded what I needed for the plane. And I felt an overwhelming amount of feelings for someone who was moving for only three and a half months, because I had an exit plan and a clear picture of how my life was going to move forward!

That clear picture turned out to be quite blurry. Edmonton, you were supposed to be a blip on the radar, a notch on my brave resume, a little career experience before heading back to school. You were never supposed to be my home. I say to Dave at least once a week: “I never thought this would ever be my life, but I’m happy it is.”

And here’s what I want to say about you, you sneaky lil city.

You will always be the city where I fell in love with board games, more board games than I ever even knew existed.

You will always be the city that gave me friends who taught me how to signal in roundabouts, because there’s nothing Edmonton does better than a real big roundabout.

You will always be the city where my future husband and I first said I love you to each other, in a kitchen with a security camera in the corner. It will always be where we figured our relationship out, where we looked at engagement rings together, where we made our first rental together into a home.

You are the place I never thought I’d stay in, but the place I can’t seem to leave.

I still remember being shocked and appalled by all the trees. There’s a part of me that thinks I was holding my breath when I moved here — clinging so tightly to the control of my life, I forgot to exhale. Seeing the trees reminded me of my smallness, and more importantly, reminded me to exhale. Edmonton, thank you for always reminding me to exhale.

You are the city where I had my worst landlord (ask me about the security cameras) and my best landlords (ask me about my trip to Mexico).

Edmonton, you’re where I had my first professional job, where I was clumsily entrusted to learn and work. You’re where I got the phone call for my second professional job, a job that asked me to stay and then followed up that question by teaching me the fruitfulness and faithfulness of staying.

You hold so many of my favourite people and friends. Friends who are brave and strong and true and loyal. Friends who are kind and thoughtful, and friends who are sassy and sarcastic. Thank you, Edmonton, for the board game friends and the Hallmark friends and the church friends and the coffee shop friends and the youth group kids, and the blessing of meeting all sorts of people.

Thank you, also, for being three and a half hours from mountains. While the mountains are beautiful, they are also home to my all time favourite bookstore, Cafe Books, and how am I supposed to leave Alberta when Cafe Books is still in Canmore?

Thank you for always having something new for me to discover - whether it’s a new section of the River Valley, a new restaurant or a new coffee shop, or a new neighbourhood I have yet to try. Or a new sport - like weight lifting (very fun) to rock climbing (maybe a one time thing, maybe I will drag Dave). Or a new season - who knew you could experience winter, spring, and fall within 24 hours? Certainly not naive little I!

You are home to my favourite place in the whole wide world - the Edmonton Public Library. I cannot say thank you enough for the blessing that is an exceptional library system.

It’s so silly to say a city gave me me all these things — and I know God is working in my life through this city. Giving me abundant gifts of not just what I needed - a job, a home, a church family, a lil unconditional love. But also, abundant blessings of what I wanted - friends. A husband. A deck. Golden hour that stretches until midnight in June. Golden leaves in the fall. A 5K and a love for physical fitness with friends. And then, abundant gifts that would help me grow but I did not want - a new understanding of the word “cold”, mainly.

I could write love letters to the trees, the people I’ve been given here, the adventures had, the joy and sorrow I suffered here. A love letter to the librarian who gave me a library card before he was supposed to. Love letters to the two Edmonton seasons: hockey and construction. The winters here made me stronger and the spring made me believe in everything good.

Thank you for everything, Edmonton. Three cheers for three years. Thank you for being an exceptional home.

And here’s to year four of life in YEG - here’s to learning the fruitfulness of staying, to the friends and abundant blessings heaped upon us here, and to the stories we will continue to tell about the richness of the time we live here.

Love you for the next one to five years, Edmonton,

Hannah

On Smile Lines and Life Lines.

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