Sunday, June 28, 2015

make my own home

so my mother just called to tell me that she and my stepdad are selling the family home and moving, and now i'm trying to process a lot of weird "help, how do i adult?" feelings.

to be clear, it's not like they're going that far from the current house -- they're moving out to one of the islands that's basically connected with kingston via ferry. according to my mom, they've been looking for waterfront property for a couple of years now, and they've finally found the jackpot. they're putting the current family home up for sale and hopefully moving by the fall.

whoa. (my initial response was: "but you've put so much work into the house!" and it's true, they really have -- inground pool, jacuzzi, workout room, full surround sound, a lot of home reno. in fact, my mom had said on a number of occasions that she'd never consider selling the house. the island home must be hella impressive.)

as a lot of you know - it's even in my about me narrative - although i was born in kingston, i mainly grew up in a tiny east ontario village called moscow. after my parents divorced, and my mother was dating the man who'd later become my stepdad, my mom, sister and i moved out of the massive stone house that i'd called home for pretty much all of my life. and i remember the day that my mom drove my sister and i into the kingston suburbs to show us the house that we'd all be moving into together -- the three of us, plus future stepdad and his two kids. i think she expected us to be as thrilled and excited as she was, but when she drove by the "new house" and pointed it out, 13-year-old me only managed a stony glare and grumble. (to which i remember receiving a terse "fine. fine." to say my mother and i didn't get along during my teenage years would be a vast understatement.) what i wasn't able to describe was how torn up i was about leaving the countryside, about moving away from the only home i'd ever known.

yet in the years to come, that new house in kingston would bear witness to all of us kids going through adolescence, high school drama, young relationships, and eventual leavetakings as we all went on to our own lives. for me personally, i only lived in that house for six years, from 1996 to 2002. by comparison, i've lived in dwellings across toronto for thirteen years now. also, i only go to kingston, like, three times a year -- for thanksgiving/my dad's and my birthdays (they're always on the same long weekend), for christmas, and usually once during the summer. but still, i can't disregard the fact that that's been the home i've always returned to for birthday celebrations, term breaks, mother's and father's days, and christmases for those past thirteen years.

on some level, we don't want our childhood home to change, do we? we like to think that we can go back and everything will be just as we left it. we don't like thinking about how the world can go on without us there to witness it. but little by little, things change -- walls get knocked down or repainted, teenage bedrooms become home offices, beloved pets pass away, trees grow tall enough to block windows, new neighbouring subdivisions go up, and sooner or later you go "home" only to find that it stands as a monument to the fact that time does pass without you. time always does.

i think we all get a finite number of havens -- little places we can go when we need to escape the regular world and our everyday lives. and if you're on good terms with your family, the longtime family home is usually one of those sanctuaries you can always go back to. this was definitely the case for me; the kingston home was where i could always go if i was having a tough time in the big city. it was where i spent a lot of weekend vacations from toronto trying to get my head straight, trying to figure out just what the hell i was doing. it's where i fell in love with music at fifteen, and where six years later, i'd bring an entire rock band home to come crash in the basement. it's where i spent my waiting period between leaving toronto and moving to vancouver. it's been my place to go whenever my life's been in transition -- a safe little rock that doesn't change.

that kingston house is still home to me. i still accidentally slip up and call it "home" sometimes, even though i've tried to quit that habit, because toronto's been my home for so much longer. i wonder if this will finally help me kick it once and for all, because the place on the island won't be my home. and that's fair, because i'm an adult now and i have my own life. still, i'm pretty sure that, in a quiet way, i'll do a bit of mourning for the haven that i'll be losing.

but whatever, none of this should be about me in any way, i know. i congratulated my mom and fully acknowledged that i wouldn't have had any say in it anyway. it hasn't been my home since i was eighteen. plus, my mom just sounded so incredibly happy and excited at the idea of owning a home on the island, and she works hard so she deserves something nice. it's a good thing for them, and whatever, for the couple times i'm in kingston during the year, i'm sure i'll get used to being out on the island. but yeah, you know, i'm going to miss the old family home. i'm going to miss that little sanctuary.

(still love you best, though, toronto.)

[ music | zola jesus, "dangerous days" ]