I almost called this list ‘Places I’ve Slept’ but thankfully saw the problems with that almost immediately. Titles are hard. Unless you don’t give a hoot about accuracy. Anyway, here we go, a list of the various locations I’ve been referring to whenever I’ve said “let’s go home”.
- From birth to about age six I lived on a little farm in Ontario down the hill from my maternal grandparents farm, close to Lake Huron, beside a stone and cement bridge which spanned a raging creek. I was little. It looked raging to me.
- More permanent farm number two, about 8 miles from Port Elgin, the town I decided to call my hometown because I went to high school there. This is the home I kept coming back to for most of my adult life, the place where my parents lived most of theirs.
- The Orchards house in Stratford where I boarded (a shared bedroom with a tiny little balcony) while attending Teachers College.
- A two bedroom apartment in St. Catharines shared with 3 other working girls. I was a substitute teacher, on call to fill in anywhere in the city. (This is when I met W at a residence party at the university) (it wasn’t all about work)
- The Wilkes house in St. Catharines where I boarded in a little smoke-filled bedroom while attending Brock University. I was the one supplying the smoke, convinced it helped me concentrate while writing boring English and Philosophy papers.
- A tiny little garage sized house in a backyard in Kenora, our first home as a married couple, close to one of W’s aunts who liked to feed us.
- Basement apartment in Dryden on Charles Street, close to one of MY aunts who also liked to feed us.
- High rise apartment in Guelph where W went back to University and I worked at the campus bookstore, all in the interests of one day being able to feed ourselves.
- Basement apartment in Guelph for married University students. Our daughters first home.
- Government house in Cambridge Bay, N.W.T. Our sons first home.
- Row housing in Inuvik, N.W.T. The old ones close to the hospital, not the new ones on the other side of town. We had utilidors and board walks. And dust and mud and the scrawniest Christmas trees in the history of the world.
- Government house in Pond Inlet, N.W.T., right beside the Arctic Ocean. The view from our front window was of the mountains on Bylot Island and random icebergs floating by or trapped in the ocean ice.
- Government house in Yellowknife on Bromley Drive, a paved street! We were on our way back to civilization.
- And here we are, (and have been since the late 1980’s) in our very own mortgage free abode in sunny Alberta, the province my kids call home.
I’m glad we stopped our wandering ways. I always worried that our kids would turn into little nomads with no roots. Both of us had parents who stayed put even after we moved away and I wanted that stability for our kids too.
After all these years and all these places I still consider Ontario home and have vague dreams about one day going back there to end up somewhere close to the place I started. I don’t know if it will ever happen, and really it doesn’t matter. Home is just a thing you take with you wherever you go, leaving little pieces of your heart behind in every place you’ve ever been settled and happy. Nothing is forever, and we got good at packing up our memories and moving on. I expect that skill will come in handy again one fine day.