Our endless and impossible journey toward home is, in fact, our home.
– David Foster Wallace
I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so, I’m on my way home, you know?!
– Bob Dylan
Both of these quotes come close to approximating how I feel. I think I haven’t truly felt at home in the seven years since we left our home and studio in Toronto. Living in the van(s) has come close, at least initially. Maybe though, that is because we had it in the back of our minds that living in a van was temporary, and we would soon return to Toronto. The place we met, lived the majority of our lives, built businesses and community, have family and friends.
We excel at making ourselves at home, comfortable, wherever we spend time, including vacation rentals. We have approached living in both the co-op apartment we bought and renovated in Toronto and the rental apartment we have lived in for the last three years like we do holiday rentals. Temporary. Comfortable. Enjoyable. But, not home. It’s kind of like we are tourists the way we approach exploring the region. We have tried to seek out food purveyors and experiences the way we do when we travel. As though we may never return and want to see and do it all while we can.
I have roots in this town. It is where my father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were born and raised. Roots and rooted, it turns out, are two different things. I wonder if it would feel more like home if my parents were still alive. As a kid growing up here, the family was ever-present. My grandparents lived upstairs. My other grandparents lived on the next block. My aunt and uncle, and cousins lived on the same street. Family meals were noisy, food-centred and frequent. My family was home.
Social Media is good at reminding one of the past. Three years ago, I went apple picking with my dad on Thanksgiving Monday. We had a good afternoon doing something we often did as a family on Thanksgiving weekend. Not only did he fill his bucket but also his pockets. We reminisced in the car before and afterwards. Well, I did anyway. He just smiled at my retelling of our once shared memories. By the time we returned to his ‘home,’ he was crying and told me it was because he wanted to go home. I assumed he meant to the house in which he and my mom last lived. I told him that I understood. He continued to cry with his head on my shoulder while I worked very hard not to. The one constant since we moved him into a care home in 2016 was his desire to ‘go home.’ Simultaneously we continued to contemplate the idea of home, and the possibilities while periodically searching for a place to call home. Now, we both find ourselves wondering where home would be for us if we were in dad’s shoes.
Nowadays, our family lives far and wide. Same with our friends. Our work wasn’t merely a livelihood; it was our passion. And we realize now that selling our printing equipment and giving up our studio was a bit like selling the family home and bidding farewell to our cohabitants.
We cannot discuss the idea of home without wondering about nomadic cultures and what they thought of home or if they did. Perhaps travelling amid their ‘people’ constituted home. Maybe home for the nomad was never about a building but rather about a community. That makes sense to us. And it also makes sense to us that what we, in fact, miss most is community. It’s not that we don’t have a community here; in Amherstburg, we do. So why do we feel so disconnected, so far from home? Is it because it isn’t a place we ‘chose’ to live like we both chose Toronto. Because we moved here for someone else, for my father? And now that he is gone, so is the reason for living here?! Have you ever moved back to your hometown or even considered doing so? If so, what was your experience? We love hearing from you!
A final thought: since we seem unable to decide on a single place we want to live, we wonder if perhaps we should continue living in different areas for the foreseeable future. A year here, six months there, travelling by van sometimes, travelling by another means other times – boat, train, plane, foot. And when and if we tire of that, we could consider planting roots again.
Next up – we’ll share highlights of our two months spent wandering around Atlantic Canada.