The story of “home” is challenging for me. As a kid my family moved around often, finally settling in Vancouver; and culturally part of me is in diaspora. I know the space I am most familiar with – Vancouver, would be home. However personally it is hard to define “home” in the abstract sense. In this case, I will have to rely on stories.
I remember having my first puppy. We brought him home, and he slept next to my bed in his blanket. He woke me up that night with his kisses. He was looking to make a friend in a strange place. I watched him grow, as did I. Over the years we walked and cycled around the neighbourhood, and had our favourite spots. He got lost once in a big park, and I experienced 75 pounds of sheer excitement jumping onto me when we were reunited. The sad part to this story is humans tend to outlive canines. He had cancer and treatment was unsuccessful. So we had to say our goodbyes and let him depart in a humane manner. His stories stayed. That and the experience of saying goodbye and learning the importance of spending time with close ones, construct part of home.
I also had my first fight here. It was in the high school locker room. This guy I didn’t know well pushed me, and I pushed back. It did not get more vicious than a few punches, and we both got sent to the counsellor. We were made to apologize to each other and make amends. To our mutual surprise, we were more common than different, and became good friends. He let me borrow his mountain bike from time to time and I invited him to parties. I asked him years later why did he push me in the locker room. “Absolutely random” was the answer. I guess it could be an adolescent rage thing. The experience out of the incident was learning to respect others and overcome differences – part of growing up. That passage is part of the feeling of home.
Oh and learning to drive. My dad had a do-it-yourself attitude, and when I turned 16 onto his car we went. I had no idea what I was doing, and my heart was pounding all the way to my throat. We started in the quieter, residential streets learning the basics of motoring. After an hour my dad was satisfied with my performance, and asked me to turn to a busy street. I thought I was doing well for ten blocks, and then made a bad lane change without shoulder-checking. The driver of a truck in the other lane had to slam on his brakes, and was rightfully angry. He rolled down his window and yelled: “Learn to drive!” I felt I had to apologize for his trouble. So I rolled down my window and sheepishly said: “Sorry. I am learning.” The response was probably unexpected by him. He had a good chuckle and then waved, before driving on. That memory of learning the tricks of adulthood and bonding with my father is part of feeling at home.
And how can I forget the first kiss. It was a summer during high school, and everything was a blur. That was a summer of understanding human relationships and ourselves. Time definitely does not function in a linear fashion – it has been too quick.
Writing this blog entry is an experience of going back in time, into memories in search of home. Home is not a pile of wood and bricks and steel. It is a feeling, a collection of thoughts. I think I found it. Home is where the stories are.