‘Home’ is where you want it to be

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.   -Melody Beattie

This week I went home. Well that is one way of saying it. I stayed at the home of my parents, where they have lived for over 25 years. Incidentally, they have put down roots here for a longer period of time than any house I ever shared with them. We were far more nomadic in the old days.

Which is not to say this has continuously been their home. When they were living in the UK and the Middle East, my sister made this house her home, along with her growing family. I guess you could say this has been our family home, although I have never lived here for more than a few months at a time, transitioning from one thing to the next, as young adults do.

I left Alberta in 1991. I knew I needed to head to the big city and in those days my options were to turn right towards Toronto or to turn left towards the Coast. For many reasons I headed towards Vancouver. I made a few stops around the lower mainland, or the greater metropolis of the Vancouver area. Like my parents, I too lived and worked in various parts of North America until I settled back on the Coast with my small family. 

Once we bought our second house, within a short walk to the beach, we stayed put for the last 15 years. My children have both gone to the neighbourhood elementary school and nearby high schools. They have slept under the same roof, their whole lives, so far. They have never known the experience of ‘moving’, as I was quite familiar with by their ages. 

As we ramble around my parents home and acreage, it is strange to think of which box to tick off when I think about it. It has often been described by my Mother as the ‘Red House’. I think she does this so her grandchildren don’t call it ‘Grannies House’. My Mom had her children very young and my sister was not exactly old when she started. Suffice to say, being called a ‘Granny’ at age 49, just two years older than I am right now, is kind of mind bending.

I wonder then, what does ‘home’ really mean to people? How would it be defined? Merely as a place to live? I remember speaking with people, while travelling where English was the second language and they would ask where I was living, locally. Meaning which hotel was I staying at. I always thought that was an interesting mistake they were making with the English language. But maybe, it was purposeful. Maybe I was the one not understanding that anywhere you live, even for a night, is your home, however temporary.

As we enjoy these last weeks in Canada before setting off for a year, I guess it is safe to say my home is wherever I roam. With one caveat, my feeling of being settled at home includes my family. Once we are together, under the same roof, I breathe more deeply. I know, those days are nearing an end, when my teenagers will not come home as often, but that is for another day.

If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.   -Dale Carnegie

As events unfolded in Barcelona this week, I was starkly reminded about the importance of having our affairs in order. We have been busy these days with lawyers and bankers, making sure that our wishes will be attended to, should the circumstance arrive. 

When we started this phase of planning, it felt so unlikely for anything to happen to us. We had taken precautions in choosing our worldwide destinations. We were vaccinated. Our first aid kit was up to date. The sunscreen and bug spray rations are so generous they have separate bags for each. Travel insurance was purchased.

As our first, and longest stop, suffered a horrible terrorist attack this week, my feelings are quite conflicted. I am horrified by the images and video being broadcast, of the victims of the Las Ramblas attack. I have walked that very stretch of street. Our family will stroll through there regularly, as it borders the neighbourhood of our rented flat. I shudder to think about our life, had we been there. My heart beats in empathy with all those who are affected. It is too sad for words.

On one hand, I am very concerned about staying out of harms way, but there is no way to predict or prevent terrorism, by wishing it away. So should we change our plans out of fear? We have decided against that. We will go forward on this journey as planned. Preparing for as much protection as is sensible, being cautious when we need to. But playing into the hands of those who are trying to accomplish their goals through striking fear into our hearts, we will not be part of.

In Canada, we have little experience with terrorism on our streets. While we are cautious of certain places, at certain times of night, we have not lived with the reality of random acts of violence, occurring over generations, like many parts of Europe. While we are not desensitized to it, I don’t think anyone, anywhere is comfortable with it. The longer it goes on, the more we accept that there is a certain risk associated with what should have no risk, in a perfect world. 

I guess that is the nut of it, this is an imperfect world. As with accepting my own limitations, I am far from perfect, so I must do for everyone else. For even if we stay at home, confining our children to our small neighbourhood, we are doing them no favours. They need the skills, tools and perspective to be contributing global citizens. At least that is what we think is best for our family.

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