A few years ago I used to work in a coffee shop in a small town not too far from my house. I had just graduated grade 12 and I would work at the store by myself on the quiet nights. There was one regular customer who would come into the store in particular that I will never forget. He was a wise, older gentleman that I would often spend many of the quiet nights sitting with while he shared his stories with me.
Since he knew I was leaving for school at the end of the summer, one night, he asked me something. “Do you want to know how I knew I really left home?” and quizzically I answered, yes but I thought to myself “you know you leave home when you move out” what more could there be to it?
Tales From a Wise Old Man
He began to tell me he left home when he was quite young. He told me that when he would leave home his parents would cry and goodbyes were very difficult. But he said that he himself never really cried or got too sad when he would leave. Then he told me that there was one time that things were different. He came home and when it was time to go on his way again his parents didn’t cry. They didn’t get up to give him a care package and they didn’t even jump up to give him a hug. He was shocked by this and so he repeated one more time to them that he was leaving. His parents acknowledged him and said “okay son, we love you very much, take care”. In that very moment when he realized that to be his parent’s final reaction, he went upstairs to his empty guest bedroom and he wept. That was not the reaction from them that he had expected and he knew something had changed. It was then he knew that he was really going to be leaving home this time.
He told me that there are two stages of leaving home. One is when you pack your bags and you physically leave and the other is when you leave on a mental level. Even though he had “left home” many months before he found himself sobbing in his empty room, he told me he didn’t really feel like he had left home until that moment. He told me that there will come a day that I too would realize I had left home.
At that time, I couldn’t exactly grasp what he was trying to tell me. He was explaining a moment in life that I had yet to experience the physical aspect of. I was still living at home at this point, I hadn’t even moved out for University yet. But I always kept his story in mind.
Here We Are
Now four years later after being to and from University, to Western Canada to Eastern Canada and back again, I find myself sitting at home at my parents house and finally not feeling at home. It’s an unsettling feeling. I have not lived at home in Ontario for many years and I came home this past September because I missed it. What I have learned from being here now for almost nine months is that what I actually missed was the first idea I ever had of “home”. I missed something that doesn’t exist anymore.
How can that be? I’m here. Same family, same town, same everything. The only thing that could have changed then is me. How can home all of a sudden not be home anymore? Where the heck is home then?? It’s startling, it’s head spinning. But you know it’s a real feeling when it’s no longer something you can change. Home is a circle and you are now a square trying to fit yourself into that circle. You can try to shove and squeeze that square into the circle as much as you want, but it’s never going to fit the same again. Forcing it only makes you feel like an alien. I had to come back to Ontario in this changed stage of mind and live this out to feel for myself that home is no longer what I had remembered. All I can really say is that home feels foreign and it’s not something I’m going to try to force upon myself for the rest of my life.
E.T Phone Home
So where is home to me then? The answer is that I don’t know yet. I only know where it’s not. I think that people, especially family often take this opposition offensively. Because when I say this is not my home anymore they associate themselves as apart of what I consider “home”. For me this is not true, just because I have no desire to be in Ontario does not mean that I have no desire to associate with my family and friends here. My friends and family travel with me in my heart. My love for them is mobile whereas “home” is considered to be a thing that remains in one place. I don’t know if the cliche saying “home is wherever I am” is exactly how I feel yet or if I will ever begin to feel like that, it’s just something I haven’t wrapped my head around. But, what I do know for sure is that I have definitely left what I have always thought of as home. I’ve dawned on the moment that this isn’t where I need to be and plant roots. I am too different now to ever accept Ontario as my forever home, I’m now a square and Kawartha Lakes will always be a circle, and this is okay.
Home can mean lots of different things to everyone. One may consider home to be their parents house, one may consider home to be a province, one may consider home to be a country. Has anyone else ever experienced the moment when they realized that they had really left “home”? I’d love to hear about it!
Thanks for stopping in and until next time