When I was young, that was a phrase my mother used to say regularly. We’d get home from a trip to the cottage or Belleville or simple errands, and her or my dad would say “home again, home again”. Sounds simple enough, yet it has been weighing on my mind over the last few years.
Where is my home?
Jacob finds it funny that when we go to Peterborough, Andrea and I often refer to it as going home for the weekend. Even going to the cottage sometimes gets shortened in similar phrasing. But of course, the cottage clearly isn’t our home, and I’m not going to my “ancestral home” physically, although Andrea’s parents live in the same house she was in for high school. So it’s certainly familiar to her. But is it “home”?
When I moved out from my parents’ house and went to Victoria, home was still their house. Perhaps less so, sure, as it applies to everyone who moves out and knows they will never return permanently, but it was still “home” more or less. Residence certainly wasn’t, nor the basement apartment I rented in Victoria. I lived in Vanier, Sandy Hill, Carlingwood x 3, and Arlington Woods. None of them ever felt like “home”.
When my dad passed away, my parents’ house stopped feeling like home, although it was not completely related. More like a gradual transition over many years that phased out after he passed. Andrea and I rented a place on Parkdale for a couple of years, but I don’t know that it ever felt like home. It was just where we lived.
Even Roundhay, the first house we bought, didn’t entirely feel like home. We brought Jacob home there, he spent his first year roaming there. He played in the cupboards, explored, scooted, laughed and cried. When I look back, I feel something about that house, a bit of nostalgia, but it didn’t feel like home. We moved to Centrepointe, and we’ve been here a fair while now. Most of Jacob’s life, in fact. Yet I haven’t often felt like it was home so much as the house we lived in.
It’s a hard idea to share and convey. After all, I feel anywhere I am with Andrea and Jacob is home. They’re my home, not a building, right? And that holds with the best wisdom of psychology, that separating from your parents, leaving the nest, is not about leaving their house but about moving away from their span of control. Leaving them, not leaving the home.
Yet that is not entirely true. There is a physical component somewhere in there. And as I drove back to Ottawa today, I felt it. Maybe it’s a side effect of COVID, that I’m spending so much time here now, that the sense of “other” identity one might have from a workplace or anywhere else is generally gone. I work, live and sleep here. I have my personalized office. It’s where Jacob and Andrea are, most of the time.
I went home for the holidays and then I came home afterwards. Home again, home again.