Friday, May 29, 2015

back and forth forever.

Six years ago today, I left Ottawa. "So long, suckers," I posted on facebook (thank you, On This Day app, for enabling my debilitating nostalgia addiction) before unplugging my modem, walking it back to the Rogers store around the block, and dashing back home to pack up the last of my things (mostly VC Andrews paperbacks and half drunk bottles of wine). My then-somewhat-boyfriend drove down from his hideout in the woods to help me move that final load. In a particularly hilarious encounter, he and my first floor neighbour, an odd sort of duck who had both a heart of gold and a propensity for conveniently practicing guitar shirtless in the hallway of our apartment-house whenever I was arriving home, ended up sharing the burden of loading my mattress into the back of the truck. It was the closest I've ever come to causing the kind of macho posturing that I think is known as peacocking. A well-intentioned civil servant-slash-aspiring playboy and a ponytailed hermit carpenter, competing for my affection with some version of brute strength. As I watched them, I sought out the metaphor, something about my horrendous fake-white-collar past in Ottawa and my potentially amazing hipster-hippie future in Kingston bumping up against each other.

"Let's get the fuck out of here," my carpenter yelled, pulling me from my reverie.

We convoyed down the 416 and the 401 all the way to the Division Street exit, and got to my new North of Princess apartment just as the sun was setting. I had never been so glad to leave one place and arrive in another.

This is it, I thought. This is definitely it.

I spent most of my twenties moving, swearing each time that this would be the last one, this would be home, this one was for life. I called myself a reluctant nomad. I've always been a homebody, so if nothing else, I got really good at putting down roots as quickly as possible wherever I ended up.

In the six years since I left Ottawa, I've survived a few more moves. Four years ago yesterday, I picked up the keys to my house, and unlocked the door to this little cottage by the train tracks, and cried.

This is it, I thought. This is definitely it.

The thing is, though, you never know when you're done moving. You always think you are, but you have no idea. Life has a funny way of spinning you around in circles just when you were getting comfortable where you were. The good news is, for this perpetual homebody, it never takes too long to unpack, to get settled, to bury those roots, and bloom where you're planted. I've gotten better at it over time, the subtle art of finding a place to call home and landing there. It's the journey that can be the hardest part, but I know I'll arrive sooner or later. We always do. We can only wander for so long.


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