The time is coming fast for us to move on again, and while I am busy questioning my own wisdom in suggesting this whole endeavour, the boxes continue to be filled and we approach the time to drive away. So, why? What is it that we are looking for, anyhow?
I have moved a lot. But don’t imagine for a second I come from a nomadic family. Heck no. My parents have lived in the same house for more than 40 years. My father moved from his family farm to a house from which he can see his family farm. So close that my grandparents called if one of us didn’t get on the bus in the morning. They would watch out the window, and if the bus didn’t pick up two kids at the end of our driveway they got on the horn to see who was sick. My mother moved from her family home to a house one community over. My parents’ cottage getaway on the river is one kilometre away from their house. And my brother moved out of the family home straight into his marital house, a 20 minute drive away. We are a family of stayers.
But. Since graduating from high school and gaining on adulthood, I have moved 20 times. I have packed and unpacked and hauled 20 times. This move will be 21. I have lived in five provinces, in dorms, rented rooms, cookie cutter apartments, houses and townhouses.
When I headed to the wild west after university and college, I went for a job and ended up married to a west boy. We joke about how it would’ve been much less complicated if he had married a nice Cariboo girl who knew what to do with game meat, and I had found a nice Island boy who could shell lobsters, but we both know that was never meant to be. So what did I do? I dragged him back east of course, to a 250 year old house on a tiny island off the coast of Cape Breton Island. The wind howled so hard that first winter, it felt like we were protected by windows with no glass.
When Dan and I had our first daughter, we felt the nesting urge and I felt the call of home shouting me back. So we found home in a century farmhouse back on Prince Edward Island, my dream house. And that was home. We embraced it and all its quirks, painted and gardened and made jam and had wine parties and book clubs and chatted with the neighbours and raised our daughters within reach of lots of family. I honestly thought my wandering days were past, and life was mapped out on that grid of Island roads all leading to the ocean. My kids would grow up as I did, barefoot on the beach.
What a shock to realise life is never predictable. Circumstances are not static, and after 8 years we had to leave. Landed on the prairies and spent the last three years trying to let go of my dream of settling forever in that farmhouse. And let me tell you, it’s hard.
I have worked and worked on my idea of “home,” telling myself it is wherever my partner and my daughters are with me. It does not matter where we live, as long as we are together, living this amazing, privileged life we have been given. Don’t get me wrong, I still hear the siren call of the ocean hard and long in my head, and I always will. (See previous post Oceans apart) I get sad, and I miss the security of having that longterm circle of friends and family around us, that easy comfort and support.
The prairies have been good to us, and we have found places here that we love and to which we hope to return. Our girls have grown and flourished, and we’ve done work that has changed our outlook, and feels meaningful. But we’re still searching.
Next stop, the Koots. Or the Kootenays, to non-Koots-igans. Not sure that is really a word, I just make things up sometimes. So, I am about to put my own self-imposed hippy granola touch-feely organic fair trade free range ideas to the true test by living in a place that can possibly out-hippy-granola the real hippies. Sorry, is that a generalisation? Anyhow, the Kootenays are known for their free-spirited outdoorsy individualist nature, not to mention their ACTUAL nature, like the lakes and mountains and Columbia River. And bears and cougars. Apparently folks bike a LOT. And hike and back-country ski and rock-climb. And all who know me know how into that stuff I am. Meaning NOT AT ALL but I aspire to be.
So, will I find my own pack there? I really, really hope so. Will we find home there? Yes, as long as our family is together. Leaving the absolutely unbelievable horizons of Saskatchewan behind will not be easy, but as we see it in our rear-view mirror we will slowly feel the anticipation build for our first view of the mountain valley we will next call “home.” I have reframed the whole scenario as a wonderful learning opportunity. Our girls will have seen more of our vast country than I had seen in the first 20 years of my life, and we will embrace the changes in the only way we know how. As a team, where home is where we are.