Note: I discovered this post in my draft folder, from back in July. It’s not finished, but it makes some good points along the way, so I’m going to post it as is.
But I am awake and thoughts keep spinning through my head. Walking through the dark apartment, seeing the shape of it in a charcoal relief…I am not home. I have not been home for a long, long time. 19 years, actually. My choice, of course. Always my choice. And “19 years” is fibbing a little: leaving Canada at 21 to travel to places foreign, home was really only one flight and some borrowed money away.
For years I didn’t need a home. This is because I was in my 20s, and because I come from a family where past and present generations help to build us, layers of spider silk in the soul: stronger for the layers, unnoticed until rain or frost. Home just was.
I don’t really know when “home” was no longer my home, but my parents’ home.
Two years in Edinburgh, one in Oshawa, one in London (Ontario, in case you were wondering), less than one in Brisbane and Cloncurry, just over one in Munich/Rott-am-inn, three in Waterloo, two in Glasgow, one in Old Meldrum, three in a trailer at the croft (which is where this blog began), just over two in my father-in-law’s apartment in Aberdeen, eight weeks in Aytrau. (Yes, yes, I’m missing a year. I have no idea where it is.) Looking back, I have enjoyed every place I have lived, but — out of all of them — our place in Waterloo is the last place I lived that felt like it was my home. The others were simply places I lived. I believe this has everything to do with those spider webs I was telling you about. In Waterloo, I made two wonderful friends, but more importantly for this particular topic I was in continuous contact with family — not blood, but near enough that you wouldn’t know the difference. Two hours from S, who has been my friend since I was seven and still likes me, forgetfulness and all; forty minutes from the other S who watched me grow up, babysat me, and whose family has been close to my family for four generations. M, who actually lived in Waterloo, who is a friend’s brother, who I’ve known since I was fourteen, who became my friend during my time there. And Waterloo was pretty much on the way from Point A to Point B, so we had family and friends visit whom we might otherwise not have seen. More layers of silk binding us together.
Moving to Scotland was both easy and difficult. Easy because Scotland was a second home in many ways: I’d been there at least once a year since leaving it in ’97. (Cheating for ’99/2000: Millennium Hogmanay in Edinburgh was…pretty amazing.) But it meant I had to leave home behind.
Actually, the first years in Glasgow were great: both in jobs, only responsible to ourselves, renewing and strengthening old friendships in person, making a few great, new friends. Then we moved Northeast and had to start all over again, again. The first year was meh, but then we moved to the static caravan at the croft and not only was my heart singing because I was out of the city and back in the country, but I discovered a community on our little road. My god. Most of the people I was meeting on our road had watched my husband grow up. They were delighted that he had returned and they took me in as one of their own, no questions asked. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the place is perfect: like every small community, there is a bit of gossip and each neighbour has to deal with the niggling niggly things that bug them about the others. However, like a real community, people stick together when needs must.
I did not realise how starved I was for community until I found it again, and — man — I am so very looking forward to getting back there.
But it took me living in Atyrau to realise that no place is foreign to those whose place it is. Yes, yes, this makes sense and sounds like it does not need saying. And yet it took coming here to a) make me even think the thought, and b) realise its truth. Edinburgh was a Grande Adventure, as was Australia. Germany was initially intimidating, both for reasons of the heart and for the uniqueness of not being able to speak the language (although 90% of the people spoke mine, so that made things much, much easier)…
(And that’s where I ended, six months ago.)