(The street names you’re about to read are fictitious.)
As high school students make their plans to pursue their post-secondary education, some will choose to leave, others to stay, travel or take a year off. Whatever they choose the closer we get to the end of the year the more their excitement level increases as does the anxiety level of their parents.
My son and I visited the new community where he plans to go to school in the fall, for now. Plans change, and that’s perfectly fine, too. I’m not overly familiar with this Nova Scotia community. I’ve only really been there for hockey tournaments. I know where to find the rinks and Tim Hortons. That’s it.
So, we booked an afternoon to see a half-dozen apartments in different parts of the community. First things first: he would need to find a barber. He has great hair it’s kind of his signature and I just knew he couldn’t be truly happy in a community until he finds one he likes. And while he loves his current barber, and it’s not too far away, he can’t very well come home every time he needs a haircut.
I sat in the Barber Shop waiting room talking to another patron, and, as I always do, I began asking questions about this community. He filled me in on all the great and not-so-great things about it. “Don’t live near Fraser Street. Or Edward Road. Make sure to stay away from Patton Drive, too. It's known for its prostitution.” I looked down at my sheet of all the apartments we were going to view right after this haircut, and all of those streets were listed.
Later, after I emerged from the washroom having just hyperventilated in a paper bag, we proceeded to go to all the places the guy in the barbershop recommended told us to avoid. We went for lunch. We checked out some of the bulletin boards filled with all the cultural activities happening in the community: concerts, plays, lectures, and even hockey.
We spent the afternoon walking the streets in the downtown core, and I could see my son’s face light up with a smile and feel my shoulders begin to relax when we found a great apt and truly experienced all that this place will offer him. “This will be fine,” I reassure him and myself.
When new people move to a community, it is essential to seek out an ambassador who is in "the know". I feel as though I am a great ambassador for new people in Lunenburg County. But I'm not the only one, and every community has some. If you don’t know who that person is, you might find them in the local coffee shop, sitting at the bar at the local pub, in the library, or even in the waiting room at the barbershop, just as we did.
It's important for us all to act as an ambassador. Sure, point out the not-so-great things about the community. Every community has a few blemishes. But also, be sure to highlight the great things too, because we have far more of those. And by only highlighting the bad things, you might be leaving someone, hiding the bathroom, with incredible anxiety, breathing into a paper bag.
We found an apartment in an area not mentioned by our new friend. We found a barber, a deli close by and even a pool where he might lifeguard. “Anywhere else before we leave?” I asked him while putting on my seatbelt.
“Nope,” He smiled. Except maybe just a quick drive down Patton Street.”
Tina Hennigar is the population growth coordinator for NOW Lunenburg County.