Sun in my eyes, coffee in hand, and music fueling my thoughts, I walk down the road. All of my work and responsibilities have been put on hold as I follow my feet around town. I turn up road after crescent after avenue, examining all that I pass by. In some neighbourhoods, I walk as if I’ve always lived next door to the people I pass. They smile and nod from their porches, and children wave their tiny hands at me from their imaginary front-yard kingdoms. Other times, I’ve felt like I’ve never been to Canada before in my life.
You can live anywhere, and have it remain foreign territory until you go out and get to know it face to face. As of today, I have covered quite a bit of ground in Ottawa in such a short amount of time. I know where the local shortcuts, paths, and alleyways are, and where they lead. I know where everyone prefers to go on family outings, and I know the places most people avoid.
Just as when I was living in Lima, Peru, walking down the streets of this metropolis, there is so much diversity to experience. I could have been staying on the steady track of being at home, shuttling straight to school and back, only traveling at high speeds in a metal capsule through this city.
By taking on this challenge, I've been able to see what a tourist rarely gets the chance to. I’ve strolled through the streets of the wealthy and secure, and I’ve wandered through the roads of the downtrodden and troubled. I’ve chit-chatted with the white-collar worker, and I’ve bought from the local artist.
Beyond all of the above, those moments when I’ve walk into a new neighbourhood like I was merely on my way home are the moments I cherish the most. They are akin to the moments when the sight in front of me inspires me to remove my headphones and fully immerse myself in the moment. To feel, smell, hear, and see without obstruction has brought me to a deeper understanding of this city. I look forward to what’s down the road ahead.
Thanks for reading.
Holly Drew is a Professional Writing student at Algonquin College in Ottawa. Holly is originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where she spent a lot of time hiking in the beautiful Algoma District and Upper U.P., Michigan. Holly’s other home is in Lima, Peru, where she lived for one year as a Rotary International Exchange Student. Holly enjoys adventure, photography, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and writing.