#YEG: A Beautiful Rhythm

United on the Whitemud.

illustration Genevieve Simms

Moving to Edmonton involved suitcases, packing boxes, a lot of anxiety and a ton of hope. I hoped the people would be nice, hoped I’d get good reviews in my new job (as soon as I found it), and hoped I’d find a hobby I’d enjoy. It was a lot to hope for and I decided I’d be happy settling for one item on my hope list.

But first, I had to tackle the transit system. Friendly bus drivers and helpful commuters took a bite out of my new-city anxieties. A few weeks of nervous interviews netted me a job, and another worry was digested. Hesitant greetings with my fellow employees soon gave way to spirited debates about the old rat hole tunnel on 109th Street and commiserations over the traffic jams on the Whitemud. As the days became months, Edmonton took over my senses. I was smitten by this city, by her festivals and art, by her bistros and parks.

But it was one day on the Whitemud that turned my crush into faithful devotion. A black dog, lost and loose, was running on the westbound lanes. A frantic call to the City of Edmonton netted me a calm response. Help was already on the way, thanks to multiple phone calls from other commuters.

The city had already sunk beneath my skin, but that moment – the bonding together of an anonymous crowd in an effort to save a dog – cemented my love for Edmonton. What makes Edmonton great isn’t her landmarks or festivals. It’s her people. They are her heart and, together, it beats in a beautiful rhythm.

Edmontonians have a small-town friendliness wrapped around an international airport, an easy-going candour that comes with big-city access. Restaurants don’t seem to care what you wear, only that you enjoy your meal and tip well.

There is a kindness and acceptance unique to Edmontonians. It saturates the city, brings life and colour to the streets and air. It was my city siblings who encouraged me to find that hobby – writing – and then to turn it into a career.

I’d hoped for a place to settle when I moved to Edmonton, but when it comes to Edmonton, settling is the last thing I’ll ever do.

Natasha Deen grew up in Guyana and has lived in many places, but now happily calls Edmonton home. She writes for both adult and young adult audiences and, in 2013, she served as the regional writer-in-residence for the Metro Edmonton Library Foundation.

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