Write a short story (600 – 1000 words max) that describes your sense of home and the values and stories that you use to connect yourself to your home and respond to all comments on your blog.
“Home may be in another time and place, and yet it holds us in its power here and now. Home is like our language, compelling us to think and feel in certain ways and giving us the freedom to imagine other ways and other places. It is who we are and where we belong. Home both binds us and liberates us” (Chamberlin 76).
I like this quote from Chamberlain because the idea that home can be another place, but at the same time holds us in the “here and now” resonates very much with how I grew up here in Canada, and how I see this country as my home. My “life story” I guess, is pretty neatly divided by chapters of living in different cities in Canada. From birth to early childhood home was in Ottawa, Ontario. From kindergarten until the sixth grade my home was in Beaconsfield, Quebec, a city about forty-five minutes east of Montreal. My teenage years were spent in Surrey, BC, and now my adult life so far has been evenly spent in both Ottawa (a lot differently than how I remembered it in my childhood), and Surrey again while I go to UBC. In every place I have lived I always felt that home was where I was was at that point, but it was also where I had lived before. Even now typing this post in my family’s house in Surrey, I feel at home, yet if I think about Ontario or Quebec, I also feel like those places are home too. Home is another place, but at the same time home is also this place. Although there have been times in my life when I distinctly remember feeling that home was always another place, and definitely not this place.
When we lived in Quebec I had a very hard time in school, mostly because the French language did not come easily to me. Homework was always frustrating experience, but school itself was worse. Subjects like math and science that were not easy for me to begin with, and were made even more difficult by the fact that I had to do them in French. Whenever I would get tired from not understanding French I would feel so strongly that Beaconsfield was not my home. Home was in Ottawa, where I liked school, where my grandparents lived, where I had happy memories.
But Beaconsfield wasn’t all bad, and not always as dramatic as I’m probably making it sound. I made some great friends there, and I have so many great memories of us riding our bikes around town, swimming at the neighborhood outdoor pool in the summers, and skating at the park in the winters. These were the times when I felt at home in Beaconsfield, and they were also the things I would remember when I first moved to BC, and went through another transition period when the place I lived did not feel like home.
Moving from Quebec to BC was a huge change for myself and my family. We had never been to Western Canada, and we had no family there. Family is very important to us, so moving to a place where visiting them was no longer a 20 minute drive like it was in Ottawa, nor a two hour drive like it was in Beaconsfield was very hard for us. Seeing our family was now only possible in the summers, when we could all get together at the family cottage in Ontario. Of course with the added drama of being a twelve year old about to start high school where I didn’t know a single person, I did not feel like Surrey was where I belonged. It took a while before it did.
I can’t tell my story about home, without talking about our family’s cottage on the lake. Since I can remember, my family has always gotten together at my grandparent’s cottage in the summer. The cottage is on Lake Kashwakamak near a small town in Ontario called Harlowe (fun fact: my dog is named after this town).
My dog Harlowe at the lake.
My family had this tradition where every summer we would all get together and compete in the “Cottage Olympics” for a weekend. We would have different events like canoe racing, scavenger hunts, and the odd creative event that my grandpa would come up with like “bird house decorating”. These fun times at the lake with my family are some of my best memories, and even though its hard to get us all together now with all the cousins getting jobs or going to school, I still consider the lake to be the place where I feel like my sense of home and belonging are strongest.
Do you have any family traditions or a special places that define your sense of home?
Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?: Finding Common Ground. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim, 2004. Print.
“Education in Montreal, Quebec”. Living in Canada. n.p. n.d. Web. June 6 2016.
“Kashwakamak Lake”. Kashwakamak Lake Association. n.p. n.d. Web. June 6 2016.