How this pandemic and Galiano changed my life
By Morgan Hannah, Life & Style Editor
I wasn’t ready. One can never quite be ready for much of the whole world shutting down. And, while millions of people were affected—some greater than others—my story is one of loss and personal devastation that actually turned out for the better.
2020 was my last semester at Douglas College before graduation. To have the satisfaction of graduating after putting in as much hard work as I had was all I could dream of and hope for! Instead, a semester of writing meaningful memoirs and poetry was cut short and I was forced into isolation on my birthday. Writing for the Other Press was one of the only things that kept me sane during the never-ending quarantine. At least my editors were still reading my words.
The plan was to return to Indonesia for a month-long stay come September. But, when international travel plans were shut down, it truly felt like my independence was stripped from me. As someone with asthma, I have to take extra precautions against a respiratory disease such as COVID-19. So, I found myself reliant on my partner (working in an essential service) for income. When you’re in your late twenties and have to bum off your boyfriend, it doesn’t really help with self-esteem…
I fought an internal battle with myself many times about whether to risk going back out into public and getting another job; I would secure some WhatsApp interviews, nail them, then hum and haw about my safety for a couple of days. Ultimately, the offers were never worth the risk, and that was truly frustrating considering the high cost of living in Vancouver and the hoops one has to jump through to obtain CERB payments. It felt like I was going to have to give up and take a step backwards in life: moving back in with the parents in Alberta. Eww.
In a last-ditch effort, I thought of the broader and bigger picture: if college is over and I can barely afford to remain in my current home, what’s keeping me here? I began applying to a whack load of positions all over British Columbia, desperately searching for a job that I could walk to—to avoid transit—when I came across an ad for a barista on a beautiful gulf island off the coast of Vancouver Island. For shits and giggles, I applied. And the next day, I got a reply—and it wasn’t what I was expecting. The position was for a full-time baker on Galiano Island.
I wasn’t ready. One can never quite be ready to uproot their entire life and move off to an island with a population that is just a little over one thousand people and only one part-time doctor during a pandemic. So, I turned down the offer. But when the owner of the bakery was persistent, I rethought the offer and tentatively planned a trip out to the island, if only just to see what it would be like.
Once I arrived on Galiano Island, I immediately fell in love with the place—stunning cliffside homes, white shell beaches with private swing sets, a quaint little “downtown,” and an even quainter community—I was sold! The best part was the exclusivity; not just anyone could get a job on the island. The next step was to find somewhere to live, however, my luck must have finally been changing. During my interview at the bakery, a customer walked in and happened to be advertising that her cottage was for rent. My partner and I went to check the place out and found it to be a wood and glass castle practically—and it was half the cost of our upper unit in Vancouver!
A month later, I’m settled on the island, living in the amazing home, and working as a full-time baker—waking up at 4 am, working hard, and bringing home the dough… pun intended. But this is not where my story ends. It turns out some evil forces were brewing in the shadows of the bakery and my demise was near. I was backed into a corner and forced to quit. Long story short, I was blindsided with false accusations that truly left me raw and untrusting, and panic began to set in. I just spent everything I had to move to an island with limited work opportunities in the middle of a pandemic and now was out of a job! What now?
Day one without a job: I raged. I cried. I melted into the couch and stared out the window and into the forest surrounding me. Day three without a job: if not for my partner, I wouldn’t have left the house. I’m glad I did though. Turns out the local inn was hiring. Originally, I applied as a housekeeper and then shortly found myself promoted to the front desk. Things were finally looking up for me again!
A little time has passed since then and I finally have a routine developed again. My current job is better than the one I moved out here for, the people are great, and watching the sunset on a variety of semi-private beaches and hilltops has been tranquility at its finest. The cherry on top is that everything is within walking distance! I wake up each morning feeling more at peace than I have felt in five years. So, not a bad plan B during these unprecedented times. I can only pray that others might find suitable plan B’s for their uprooted lives too.