home is where the heart is

So I was writing this for a slack internal discussion and then realized it was a blog post…

I empathize so deeply with this topic and with the concept of “home”. My story is the reverse in that I am a :flag-ca: living in :usa: and have been since I left BC almost two decades ago. For the first seven years, I was in L.A., but even after I met some of my best friends, found my husband and had our kiddo there, neither my husband nor I considered L.A. “home” because we had no intention of staying there long term. By contrast, when we lived in Brooklyn for ten years, I was considering that “home” because I had built so much of my adult life up in NYC. I invested real emotional energy in building a local social network and building my career and I spent hours reading up on NYC history and the mechanics of the city so I could understand it. Calling NYC “home” was a deliberate choice because I expected to live the rest of my life there and I wanted an emotional connection to the place equivalent to the connection I had with Vancouver. (Also, I’m the fourth generation of my family to live in NYC so it was easy to construct a narrative with an established connection)

And then my husband got a job outside Philly and we had to up and move to the suburbs here and I am honestly too old and exhausted to re-invest the kind of energy into calling it “home” like I did with Brooklyn. I’m unlikely intertwine my sense of place and identity here the way I did with Vancouver or with Brooklyn and life is unlikely to take me back to NYC (especially now that it is literally the world’s most expensive city).

But I’m aware that even as much as I LOVED NYC, I do not say I’m going “home” when I go up there to visit. The only place I have consistently said I’m going “home” to is the greater Salish Sea area (which is the Straits between Vancouver Island and the US and Canadian mainland), and I still feel a sense of relief just flood through me every time I get back to Sea-Tac or YVR and see all the pointy trees and mountains and images of salmon in the airport art. Then I’m “home”. My sister, her family and my mom moved back last year to BC from Toronto, so my family are there. My son is talking about going to my alma mater, UBC Vancouver. My husband and I are discussing retiring in Washington State near the Canadian border, which a year ago, I wouldn’t have even considered as a path because I had planned to be one of those eccentric New York retired women who wear feather boas to the grocery store.

I suppose the point of all this is that some of us may have a sense of place or a sense of “home” already, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. I believe it’s possible to invest the emotional and intellectual energy in a new place to craft a sense of home and a sense of belonging that creates that inner peace. It just can be risky because it’s one more place to be homesick for.

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