Ideals, Devon Butler

I remember hanging out at my parents’ house in Toronto one weekend while in university. Sunday came around and I mentioned to my Mom that I was heading home. Heading “home” meant back to my student house in Waterloo, but wasn’t I at home already? Thankfully my Mom didn’t go all maudlin, nostalgic for the days of yore when her house was my home. Instead, in her eyes, this was a wonderful development; it meant that I was so comfortable in Waterloo that it felt like home, and it really did.

It wasn’t something unique about Waterloo, per se (though I love the city) it was more about having forged a new life for myself somewhere else. I’d made new friends, gotten a job that I really enjoyed, and knew my way around the place. When you spend the first 18 or so years of your life in the same place, even when you have a good level of independence, moving to a new city separate from your parents is an amazing experience. When you’re in the right place – and Waterloo was the right place for me – then it’s even better, and it can truly feel like home.

But my parents’ house was still home, too. I’d go home to Toronto for the weekend and then back to Waterloo on Sunday. I don’t know if some universal law dictates that any person can only have one home, but I definitely defied that law while living in Waterloo. When I graduated last year, I moved to Port Hope for a job, and that’s where I continue to live now. I love my job, and I don’t mind this quiet little town, but I still like to escape to my parents’ house in Toronto on the weekends.

I feel at home here in Port Hope. My apartment is cozy and has everything I need, and I’m starting to get to know the town a lot better. I don’t have my girlfriend, close friends, or family here, but I still feel at home. At the same time, my parents’ house still feels like home.

I wonder to myself when I’ll only feel at home in one place, like I did for the first 18 years of my life. I suppose when I have a family of my own, our house will be my home, but maybe not exclusively. The corny-but-true saying ‘home is where the heart is’ seems to be fitting, so I guess my heart is in a lot of different places. My heart was once in Waterloo where all my closest friends were and where some of my most formative experiences took place. My heart is now in Port Hope where I’m working at an amazing institution and being challenged with great work on a daily basis. And my heart will always be in Toronto – with my family, where I grew up, at my old stomping grounds, and where many of my closest friends remain.

I don’t know exactly how I’d define “home” in words; it’s just something I feel in different places. I’m starting to realize that it has less to do with the place itself, and much more to do with the people in it.