Comfort, Ian Spence
I am homeless.
Not in the literal sense, I do live in a house. I feel homeless because I lack a hometown. I have no city to return to and proudly claim as my own. I have lived in a few cities, but I don’t have any roots or deep-seated memories calling me back. You can exist in a place without leaving any part of yourself behind. I don’t look out my window and think about how much this place means to me, or go to the local Tim Horton’s and think of the great memories I’ve had there. My friends have mentioned that I make my city sound like a horrible little hick town, population of 1000, when really that’s just me complaining.
I’ve felt “homeless” for quite some time now. I moved to my current city, a loose term for my present location, in grade eight and have always felt out of place. I hated the town with a passion, and the people in it almost as much. Young and spiteful, I would cry for hours, plotting escape and swearing to never look back when I left. In my self-absorbed, thirteen-year-old head, this was my personal apocalypse. I had to survive the zombies that infiltrated my new school.
By grade twelve, one could say I was settled. I was familiar with my surroundings and made some great friends, but I knew that once I left, I was gone forever. Living there showed me I don’t like small cities, and the suburbs bore me. This was a pit stop on a greater journey.
I still have good friends in my old city. I feel nostalgic when I visit my former neighbourhood. But I cannot claim the place as my hometown; we both have changed too much to relate to each other. The park behind my house was great for exploring when I was in grade school, but at the age of nineteen, I would like my Friday nights to be a bit more interesting. The older I got, the more disconnected I felt. It was like meeting a childhood friend one day after completely losing contact with them – you remember the great times you have had, but how do you relate to them now? Reminiscing about horrible elementary school teachers can only bring you so far in a conversation.
Waterloo is not, nor will it ever be, my hometown. I absolutely love the city, but once I graduate I can never live there again. The thought of co-existing with my university self when I am thirty is strange. I don’t want to go to the same bars and hang-out spots for ten years. The idea of my children going to the same bars as I did as a freshman is terrifying. I don’t want to raise my children on the streets that I grew up in.
The closest place I found to fitting the imaginary requirements of my home is Spain, where I visited for a month last summer. I remember feeling enchanted by the old architecture; like I could spend years walking around these old streets and still discover new things. Sitting outside of my family’s home, watching my cousins play, I knew I would one day be back, I was not done with Spain. The month ended too quickly, there was still so much hidden away that I had not discovered.
I think and co-exist in the past, present and future. My past forbids me from living in a place that has seen a younger me. I don’t want to walk around and see my past mistakes written on park benches and walls like graffiti. I want a fresh canvas, a place for new beginnings and experiences.
We have all heard the cliché quotes about home being where your heart is and the myriad of variations upon that, but I can’t relate. My heart is out exploring; it’s wandering around trying to find that one place. It will be that one place that will make me look out my window and feel like I have reached my destination. My city will not inspire me nor will I feel enraptured by its nooks and hidden spots. I will walk along the streets and my heart will match the rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement. I will know that this is mine, this is me, this is home.