I was born and raised in North Vancouver, BC. I have lived in the same house my whole life. In a way, it would be pretty simple for me to determine what home meant to me: it’s the place I had my first birthday, where I learned my first song on the piano, the place I would always bring friends over to, and the room I was consistently messing up. I grew up with my older sister, my mother and father, and my grandmother from my mom’s side, who helped take care of us. I also found a home in my elementary school, where I had many close friends with classmates and teachers. I’m far away from that home now – close in distance but far in memory. But it always feels like an old friend whenever I visit it.
I have another place I consider to be a type of home – a place I didn’t visit until I was 11 but came to know of early on: Poland. The place my mother was raised, along with my father’s grandparents. This place holds a lot of my family heritage, so I also consider it a home. A very distant home to me, but a place my ancestors considered theirs. My father always loved to tell stories about our family in Poland, especially regarding our family tree. In particular, my father loves to talk about my grandfather’s childhood and the place he grew up in: Szczekociny Turns out he had quite the lifestyle growing up, what with living in a mansion with servants, a large front and backyard (perfect for riding horses) and being raised to speak the elegant and universal tongue that was French. Unfortunately, they had to sell the place during the Great Depression, and the insides got burned down after it was converted to a school (the teachers were angry about something or another). It still stands, but looks more like a ruin more than anything. It still looks fantastic and grand, however, and you can imagine where everything was at the time: the ballroom, the great staircases and chandeliers. Some of the side buildings have been rebuilt though.
Another interesting place related to my family: the Halpert Chapel in Warsaw! My father always talks about how he wants to be buried there. It was rebuilt in 1975 but unfortunately most of the graves were destroyed. The cemetery surrounding it is very beautiful as well. I always feel a little special going inside. It’s neat being connected to something as historic as this.
Going back to my mother’s side: my grandmother passed away when I was quite young, around 10. I found this led to a loss in my language ability in Polish (which wasn’t too great to begin with). With it, slowly losing touch with my second home. I’ve visited Poland around 3 times now, but I often find it hard to communicate with the older generations of my family. There is someone who I really wish to be able to communicate with, however, and that is my Great Aunt, or my grandmother’s sister. My grandmother had two sisters, but one is quite different from her. The other one reminds me very much of my grandmother though. I would love to hear the stories she has to tell, and actually have a heartfelt conversation with her one-on-one without the need for any translations. I want to hear more about my grandmother and my mother and their life in Poland. I want to learn more about my family’s history. I want to gain knowledge of a life, a different side of my family, which I don’t have. I want to learn about their values and teachings. I think then I will be closer to my second home.
(I do plan on going back there for a few months in the fall, hopefully to become more fluent in the language and experience more of the culture and life in Poland as well!)
I still consider here to be my primary home. But I know I always have somewhere else to go – somewhere I can still feel comfortable in. It won’t be the same as where I have grown up, and where I have spent most of my life, but it’s somewhere to go when home here is too much or when I want to experience something different, just for a bit. But I will always come back to a place I call home.
Evangelical-Augsburg Cemetery, Warsaw on Revolvy.com. Evangelical-Augsburg Cemetery, Warsaw. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.
Szczekociny. Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.