Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts turn to home

"I don't want to go back to Aylmer," Chloe has told us on numerous occasions. And who can blame her. With the beach, the playgrounds, the marry-go-rounds and the baked goods all at her door step, why would anyone want to leave?

Chloe: Why doesn't Aylmer have a beach?
Mommy: Well, it does honey, just not a beach like this, on the ocean.
Chloe: Why not the ocean?
Daddy: Because although oceans make up two thirds of the world, we don't happen to live near any of them.
Chloe: Oh.... I want to stay in France.

Of course it's not just the allure of France, of Nice, of the ocean that makes Chloe long to stay where she is. She knows that going home means going back to more mundane routines, like work, daycare, the perfectly good park down the street. There's nothing wrong with going home. At some point most of us have to go home, and Chloe seems to get this. But it's still a little sad having to admit that the adventure is almost over, that the merry-go-round is slowing down.

Julie and I have felt very much like Chloe these past few days. A few weeks ago, we were actually looking forward to getting back to regular life. There's a certain comfort in the mundane after all, especially with two young children. But as we've approached our day of departure, we've begun to long for just a few more days, a couple more weeks, to appreciate where we are.

Of course it doesn't help that Ottawa isn't anything like Nice. Their similarities start and end with population size. Ottawa is the city that never should have been. When Voltaire mused about a few acres of snow, he may well have been picturing what is now the National Capital Region. How a small lumber town became a city - our capital is, of course, a question more of politics than economics or geography, and it shows.

Oh, I'm not meaning to knock Ottawa too badly. "It's a fine place to raise a family" after all. And besides, home is where you live, not where you would live all things being equal. Actually, in the 6 years we've lived in the Ottawa area, the place has rather grown on me - somewhat unexpectedly. It's a young city (even by Canadian standards) that ebbs and flows with the tides of changing governments. But it's maturing all the time, becoming more dynamic and cosmopolitan. To think, before the Trudeau era of big government, Ottawa was a pretty small place.

We do look forward to going home. The region in which we live is beautiful, even with the long winters, and the community of Aylmer is hard to beat. We love the culture and the people on the Quebec side of the river - our wonderful neighbours, for example, who are looking after our house, and we miss family and friends. We long for the familiar, for a place that we know through and through. We long to get back to our life paths, wherever they may lead. And Chloe wants to get back to her friends, and to playing with others (lately she's taken to trailing kids at the beach like the paparazzi).

Nonetheless, it's always hard to leave the beautiful places in this world. The allure of the exotic meshes with the longing for the familiar, and when we head home it will not be with regret, yet with a heavy sigh.

1 comment:

  1. Home is where the heart goes? Welcome back to Canada! Oh, just to let you know, there is an election going on.