I’m sitting in the Halifax Stanfield International Airport in Nova Scotia. I’m on my way to St. John’s, Newfoundland to speak at a conference. It’s exciting for me to finally be visiting a destination on my bucket list. It’s exhilarating to think that tomorrow I will be sharing my knowledge and experience in business networking with a group of one hundred amazing people. It’s also crazy to think that the last time I was in this airport was at the end of one of the most terrible couple of weeks of my life.
I’ve been back to Halifax several times since the incident back in 1995. I love the Gaelic charm of this beautiful city and it’s people. Every time I have returned it was by car, so here I am back at YHZ, nineteen years later.
No matter how bad it is at this moment in your life, it will get better.
The incident nearly twenty years ago wasn’t even that bad in retrospect. Some of you may even scoff to hear this story when you consider some of the terrible times you’ve had.
It’s 1995, Coolio is on top of the charts. O. J. Simpson is still on everyone’s minds. Timothy McVeigh is the only terrorist people can name.
My girlfriend had moved from Toronto to Halifax to attend college. It upset me that she moved, but she assured me that she would be back in the summer and we would remain together. College was only a two-year program, so it was a short time in what I had expected to be a long life together. Side note: Long-distance relationships seldom work.
I had visited her a couple of times leading up to my final trip that spring. I flew there because we were booked on the same flight home to Toronto for the summer. This time, I was spending two weeks with her as she wrapped up her semester, so I could help her pack up and move.
She was acting oddly the whole time I was visiting her. There were certainly some happy, normal moments that felt like it had always been, but something wasn’t right with her. We spent plenty of time out with her friends at pubs and checking out live bands together. Those parts were good, right up to the moment she introduced me to the guy she had been sleeping with.
It was my first heartbreak and it hurt — badly. My emotions were in a knot. I was stuck with her there for another week because I had no way to get home. The last night everything came to a standstill and I knew we were done.
I packed up my bags in the night and walked through the Halifax Commons park to a bar. I closed the bar at 3 am and was left with nowhere to go. I couldn’t afford a hotel and my flight home (the one with her seated next to me) would be later that evening.
I ended up grabbing a cab and stumbled into this airport where I fell asleep in a chair. When I awoke, the ticket agent stood behind the counter looking at me perplexed. I went over and asked him if there was any way I could be on the first flight back to Toronto. I was clearly distraught. Without missing a beat, he asked me if it was “woman trouble.”
To this day, I don’t know how he nailed it. In his charming, Nova Scotia way, he smiled knowingly and quietly said, I would be on the next flight home. And that, friend, was the last time I was here at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
It’s funny to think where life takes you. It wasn’t long after that terrible couple of weeks in Halifax that I moved to Ireland. Ireland is where I would meet my wife, Heather. It’s Heather who has encouraged me to do the things I’ve done and to shift my career the way I have. She’s my backbone and my best friend.
So if you’re going through something crummy right now, know that it does get better. Life moves in mysterious ways. My flight to St. John’s is boarding soon and I need to grab a cup of Tim’s. You can take the kid out of Canada, but you can’t take Canada out of the kid.
No matter how bad it gets, it really will get better.