East Meets West: A Freezing, Heart Warming Tale of Home
I make it back to Ontario about once a year, and always in winter (whether it be Christmas or around then), but Lord love a duck, was it ever COLD. I don’t just mean for someone who's been living on the west coast for five years. I mean bitterly, offensively, record-breaking, chilliest place in the world kind of cold. I may not have gotten a tan during my return to Ontario but, my heart certainly got warmed.
When I head back to Kitchener, I very intentionally fly under the radar. Honestly, there’s a plethora of people I don’t want to see. Not because they’re bad people, but they’re not my people, perhaps they never were or I/we outgrew each other. I just don’t have it in me to engage in small talk or share tidbits of my life that I very intentionally leave out of social media platforms (even with private settings, we know online creeping is real). This makes me all the more grateful for the people in my life that do understand and support me.
I’m no longer at odds with my home town. It has become a collision of the old and new, structurally, metaphorically and family-wise. I recognize and revel in its importance while honoring the fact that it will always be a home to me, but not a place of permanency.
I know I’m lucky.
I took my parents to an OHL (Ontario Hockey League) game and basked in the nostalgia, at an auditorium where I would go skating, a stone’s throw away from my grade school. We scoured the walls filled with notable athletes and teams from the region, including my great uncles and my Papa, a referee in the NHL. My dad regaled me with stories of bitty DaddyO telling off hecklers sassing his dad reffing a game (“hey shut up! That’s my dad you’re yelling at!”). And wouldn’t you know it? The home team even won (I already had, I got to have a giant soft pretzel, and yah, that whole being with my parents things was a win too).
I gorged on my mom’s baking while strutting around in a new housecoat that she made for me, it even has a hood! Miss Independent, who’s normally entrenched in her “I can do it myself” attitude really appreciated her mom taking care of her. Because, yah, being loved and supported, receiving, at times is even more of a challenge than loving.
Seeing an old friend is good for the soul, they are that which is a blood transfusion, a life force, when we forget or diminish our true essence. One of my nearest and dearest, Mary, whom I met in kindergarten, was that revival. In her, I still see that little girl with the bowl hair cut, and me with a giant side ponytail. We get to witness that concentrated “Me” ness in ourselves while supporting, loving and challenging the women we are and still yearn to become. This time we did it over a big ass piece of cake. Cake and friendship; power combo.
But what of the new? New thoughts and feelings via new people! I got to snuggle my 16-month-old nephew in my jet-lag and his post-nap bewilderment, and not 24 hours later got to witness his first steps.
I accompanied my cousin Meaghan, whom we call each other "sister-cousin", to pick up her four-year-old son from a grade school that looked shockingly like my own. We played make believe and he shared his toys while I told him of the West and the world, and I reminded myself of the adventures that I had embarked.
I know I’m not “young” anymore, but I’m certainly not old, cue Britney singing that she’s not a girl, not yet a woman I suppose. Being back in Kitchener reminded me that I’ve grown up, but I’m not “there”, whatever “there” is. Becoming, transformation. How did Momma Nature crystallize this realization? A rainbow of course. While shivering on that frigid, clear cold day, a Sun Dog, a solar halo, danced in the clouds. It’s no coincidence that they symbolize great change and it happened in the same 24 hrs as the lunar eclipse…