Imagine that you are fourteen years old, living in Toronto, Ontario and really excited to start high school with all of your childhood friends in the Fall. Your parent's sit you and your brother down to tell you that your family is going to be moving away. I thought to myself "OK we're moving neighborhoods again." And then the bomb was dropped. Your family is going to be moving countries. We assumed that it's going to take months to prepare a move like this. We were wrong. My family was moving from metropolitan city Toronto to beach town Newport Beach, California in the next month.
My brother and I knew that my parent's were having marital problems, but we had no idea that they would make the decision for all of us to move Countries. My father was working with his brother at the time on his accounting business software so my father was able to arrange a work visa for himself and try to open up an office in the States. Instead of my parent's separating again they decided that they would give it another try and move us away for a fresh start.
My brother and I were shocked. First we knew were going to miss our childhood friends. Second we couldn't imagine our new home as we had never been to Newport Beach before. We had been to Disneyland and had visited L.A. once, but I had never thought that we would move to California. Third we wondered if our parent's would stay together as they were having many problems. Of course we were willing to try, but we were very scared of the change. My mother told us at least we all have each other.
At the time there were no shows like Laguna Beach or The O.C for us to reference. (Everyone always asks me what was it like going to high school in Newport Beach. And yes it was similar to the shows. Crazy I know.)
After a lot of tearful goodbyes to our friends and family, we sold our house (within weeks), stored our furniture, took our dog and flew to California. Saying that the O.C. was a culture shock to us would be an understatement. We went from Maple Trees to Palm Trees. From boots to sandals and skiing to surfing. I wondered if we would ever fit in.
My family enjoyed a sun filled month on the beach while getting to know our new area. (I know it sounds horrible, but not to worry we managed :) Newport Beach seemed to make their women and teenagers very different to Toronto. They were perfect, with perfect hair and makeup and always wearing workout pants. My mother and I had also noticed that in the magazines there were a lot plastic surgery ads. And this was in 1990.
Our first day of school seemed to come very fast. On my first day of High School, I tried to wear my hippest California outfit which consistent of a Betty Boop top and matching cut off jeans. (Oh the horror!)
Together I remember my brother and I walking up the foreign steps to our new school. This school was completely different to any we had known as it had outside lockers and an Olympic pool for water polo. We took a deep breath and entered the sea of faces that we had never seen before.
I will never forget seeing sandals on the feet of almost all of the students and some of the teachers. To me they looked like Flinestone shoes and they were wearing them with socks. I stopped a student that was younger then me and asked her about the sandals. She told us that they were called Birkenstock's.We had never seen them before so I asked her why would they be worn with shorts and socks. She looked at me like I was crazy and responded " The socks are to keep their feet warm from the sandals. Duh!"
The new Canadians had officially arrived. What was it like when you moved to a new city or Country? Do you think it's harder to move as a child or as an adult? * I took the above photo of Laguna Beach in the midday sun. It's one of my favorites.