When you know you’re home

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I’m extremely lucky to have travelled to some pretty amazing places over the years. Whether of my own accord or for work, I’ve been across the US, to Europe, Africa, Hawaii, and even Iceland. I’ve been in hot and cold climates, been stranded in airports, experienced “pod life” in first class, and been pushed to the back of the plane next to the washrooms. I’ve gone through countless security checks, been patted down, had my bags searched, and been through the invasive body scanner on more than one occasion.

And I love it.

Travelling fuels me. I love the newness of it, even if it’s all so very familiar. I love possibilities, the adventure, the thought that I might just discover something new about myself … about the world around me. It lifts me up. Makes me feel… whole.

And for all the places I’ve been in the world, one area in particular always struck me, and struck me in a way that made my heart ache, made my bones tingle, made me feel the most whole I’ve ever felt. One area in the world makes me feel like I’m home, even when I’m just visiting.

I grew up in a small logging town on the west coast called Squamish in British Columbia. Nestled halfway between Vancouver City and Whistler, Squamish is now known as the “recreational capital” of Canada. When I was there, it was just home. A small town of rundown trailer park towns, bumpy, sometimes gravel roads, epic woods to explore, deer sightings, eagles, mountain views, fresh air, and lots and lots of pickup trucks.

I left when I was about 8-9 years old. I was young. And yet, I have vivid memories of where I lived and what I did, and I’ve had them confirmed as being very much true, not just made-up childhood “memories” we create to make ourselves feel better or cooler in some way. They are etched in my brain. And they are a large part of why I am who I am today. Those years in Squamish, Britannia Beach, Howesound, Valleycliffe, they formed the Miranda I am today.

Every time I went west, even if it wasn’t to British Columbia, I felt like I was where I was meant to be. California held a special place in my heart. Something about the mountains and the pacific ocean. It just felt … right.

And so, last year, I went home for the first time in over 20 years.

It’s incredible how the mind works. I went back blind. I decided not to ask my mother for specifics like addresses or locations of places and things we used to see/visit. Instead, I let my memories guide me. And they guided me precisely where I wanted to go. As I drove the Sea to Sky for the first time myself (only ever having been a passenger until that point), I felt like I already knew every corner, every dip in the road, every jutting rock poking out into the precarious cliffside roadway.

I found my childhood trailer park, I travelled roads where my family members had lived, where I’d walked to elementary school, where I’d explored beaches and backwood streams. And I found them all because those little nuggets remain with me today, vivid, clear and real. I breathed in the fresh mountain air, took it all in, and felt like I belonged. For the first time in years, I felt like I belonged. Like I always do when I go west.

They say home is where your heart is, that it’s the people around you who make somewhere home. I don’t disagree with that statement: Where Owen is is home for me.

Yet, when I’m not at home with him or around him, I’m floundering in a city I never really felt was mine.

I’m 31 years old now. I’ve been living outside BC for long enough now and in Quebec for equally long enough that the east should be home. Yet, when someone asks me where I’m from and I say Montreal, the next statement is almost always, “Oh, but you’re not FROM there, are you?” And I don’t think it’s just because I sound extremely Anglophone.

No, I think they see something in my eyes. Something that’s always been there. A longing to go back. To go back home.

I’m currently sitting in an airport in Winnipeg on a 6-hour layover on my way back to Montreal from Vancouver. I’ve just spent the last few days there, exploring more, visiting friends and extended family, driving, and just unwinding.

BC is my safe place. BC is my escape. BC is home.

It hurts my heart every time I have to get on a plane and head back east. Physically pains me to do so. It’s not like leaving the beach after a week-long vacation or getting on a bus to go to college, it’s more than that. So much more. I often cant find the words to properly describe it, really.

British Columbia is home. It always will be. I feel like I belong there. Like I was meant to be there. Will I go back to live there? My hope is, yes. However, things are never as straightforward as that, now are they? Life has a funny way of complicating things — all the time.

Regardless, I know I’ll always have a home. No matter what. I know I can go home. I can always go home, and I’ll always feel welcome, and for that I am so very, very grateful.

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~ by drivingmsmiranda on April 25, 2015.

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