My Other Home Town

November 28, 2010 at 4:50 pm (Memoir) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

The older I get the more elusive the idea of home is.  It is a concept that gets harder and harder for me to grasp, to express and define. Where is my home? Is it where I live now or is it where I come from? Both ideals have their own complications. As an adult, I have resided in 26 places (houses & apartments) in 7 different cities, in 4 provinces and two countries (Canada & Germany – which I remembered not at all). That’s a lot of home to define.

I envy those who have lived in the same residence from birth to death. Honestly, I both envy & am wary of such people. I can understand both the pleasure and dread that arises from this situation. There is a sort of comfort and fear in the idea of having your home never change and of living with the same people (more or less) one’s whole life.

The dictionary defines home, thusly, as a person’s native place; in one’s own house or place of residence, or in one’s own town or country. The talk is of ownership, of belonging, but what if you feel like you don’t belong anywhere and thus aren’t allowed to own any piece of where you come from. What do you do when you feel poor and property-less?

I’m pretty sure that I will never own a piece of property or buy a house. Thus, will my home always be ultimately someone else’s; a place where I live for now. A place that I can not paint or change in any major way. I would love an orange and black Halloween wall, a sunny yellow kitchen or a mellow indigo bedroom. However, it seems I may always be doomed to boring white or pale beige apartment walls.

Is home only:

  1. A place where one lives; a residence,
  2. The physical structure within which one lives, such as a house or apartment,
  3. A dwelling place together with the family or social unit that occupies it; a household?

Or is it so much bigger than all that?

As far as home towns go, emotionally, I have two. These consist of the small Saskatchewan town I grew up in and the ever evolving, way too touristy, resort town of Canmore, Alberta. Ever since I was a teenager, Canmore has been, is,  my second home, my other home, because both places have equal status in shaping who I am and who I am still becoming.

Two weeks ago I told you about my roadtrip to go see my father and step-mom. The trip took me home – to my other home town. My eldest sister doesn’t consider it her other home town and I’m pretty sure my youngest half-sister would consider it her only home town. I, on the other hand, have trouble delineating one home town from the other as both are important to my sense of place, of home. There is no line of demarcation marking home.

I have spent a lot of my life exploring and living in both these places, but not only these places (see above).

When I first lived there Canmore was little more than a small town just barely removed from its past as a mining community and then the Olympics came and everything grew like stink-weed. I prefer the small 70s town to this modern tourist mecca. I even prefer the old trailer park I lived and played in here to the new, probably over-priced condos that are springing up where I and my half-siblings roamed.

I’ll admit to being old fashioned and anti-progressive a lot of the time. (But not always – what would I do without blogging and the internet?) :-0

Home. What is home? Where is home?

Home is not where you live but where they understand you.  ~Christian Morgenstern

Home is knowing where the water glasses are kept. Home is opening the right cupboard door because this is where they’ve always been and always will be. Home is being allowed to snoop in the refrigerator and getting my own ice rather than being waited on. Home is my step-mother’s smile, my father’s bragging, my sister’s laughter, and a welcoming hug from a brother I haven’t visited with in years. Home is remembering where to turn to get somewhere even though you haven’t walked this way in ten years. Home is remembering where the library is and was and that the old building captured your heart more than this modern new building does.

With all the changes and moves in my past and in my current life, I think that no matter where I am home will always be being able to find the library. No matter where home was or is, there must always be access to a library nearby.

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library” – Jorge Luis Borges

Home is, for me, “une immense bibliotheque.”


1 Comment

  1. Touch2Touch said,

    I read your post with great interest.
    The older I get (and I am old beyond your belief, I assure you) the less I can firmly define what home is for me, let alone for anyone else. So I posted on my blog, asking this as a question. First I gave Robert Frost’s definition, in Death of a Hired Man, and asked for comments from people. I actually got some. No one agrees, by the way, on what it is. This isn’t the end of it for me; I’m mulling over my own tentative proposals and the comments others have made, and within not too long expect to continue the conversation. Maybe you’d like to read my post ( and join in. At any rate, you are asking significant questions, always a good thing to do! Judith

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