One of the most intense ways that the halting reality of not being “at home” hits you is the holidays. Unfortunately it isn’t confined to the actual day but spills into the weeks in anticipation. Thankfully it usually abruptly ends the day after.
I sit here in my bed listening to the fireworks on the Fourth of July and I feel profoundly alone. On a normal day you can chalk it up to independence, or your work schedule, or just push it out if your mind and get out of the apartment but holidays it really smacks you in the face. I came home from work today and went straight to bed. I didn’t have any plans so why not, I was tired. I woke up shortly before the fireworks and here I sit. I missed the Canada day festivities because it isn’t celebrated here obviously. But I got off work at 7 today and I honestly had no where to be. No one invited us anywhere and we didn’t bother to make our own plans. In fact, E is at the lab right now and won’t be home for another hour.
Christmas was really depressing too. I worked that day. And that was fine, not that they even had dinner for us at work… but even after work… I didn’t even have somewhere I could be. My somewhere is three thousand miles away. 31 hours stands between me and my traditions. Most people we know out here have their traditions and there isn’t room for new people or they just assume everyone has plans. I don’t blame anyone and obviously if it’s important to me to have plans I should have made some. And considering how I feel now I think I will make sure I have plans in the future. I know this sounds pity party ish and honesty it is to a degree but let’s be honest I think it’s still true. I tried to involve myself in a friends family event earlier this year and I was awkwardly rejected because of the “family drama”. I can’t blame them but I’ll never know if that was the real reason or if they just weren’t comfortable including outsiders in their longstanding tradition. No blame but it still stings.
The last Canada I remember that I spent in Canada I was at my best friends cabin for the weekend with another one of our best friends and we were out on her boat watching the fireworks. Exactly the thing that one should do on their countries birthday. But not this year. This year I’m typing away on my phone, in the dark, alone.
Don’t even get me started on thanksgiving. I worked that holiday too and it’s a good thing they had a turkey dinner at work because that was the only way I was getting one. I’m three for three. That holiday pay doesn’t count for much when I consider the ache in my heart.
I miss my Canadians. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my new friends and I love being in a new place but every now and then my heart aches for home. I can only liken it to wanting to slip into your old comfy grey hoodie on a rainy day. You don’t have to be careful to keep it clean because it’s mottled with stains and it’s soft and worn and when you wear it you’re completely comfortable.
My heart sometimes aches when I think about the fact that I will likely never live close enough to my parents to go for dinner and that they will always live far away from their grandchildren. When I realize that we aren’t moving back and that my relationships with my friends will likely be long distance for the duration. This part is like waking up the next day and being blissfully forgetful for just a moment that the day before your pet was run over by a car… And then you remember and it all comes flooding back. I go about life with this unconscious assumption that I will being going back to Manitoba one day and will be like all the other people who got married in our grade and live at most an hour from their families and the place where they grew up. And then I remember that if all goes according to plan that will never be the case. This makes me really appreciate the people who have made the effort to keep in touch. But then I wonder if one day they too will realize the reality of the new conditions of our relationship and decide it isn’t worth it.
I know that I’m lucky to have such a loving caring family and friends and that I’m lucky to have the opportunity to live in California and to be with someone who’s career path will take us to amazing places. But the older I get the more important my family and friends become and the more often and intensely I long for that old sweater. The friends you don’t need to make plans with because being with them flows so naturally and is so easy. The family events that make you feel so loved and provide a soothing sense of belonging in amongst a busy life. I miss that sometimes.
When I hear about people from home being sick, right now my old neighbor is really not doing well health wise and they lost their son this year, it just feels so surreal. I wasn’t there for the funeral and I’m not there now when the neighbor I grew up with is fighting for her life. Part of me is numb to it because I don’t know how to react or how to feel or who to talk to. I feel like people wouldn’t understand why I would even care. I didn’t even cry when I found out their 16 year old son had passed away. I couldn’t. And that confused and saddened me in a strange way.
The longer we live far away the more my consciousness of back home is warping into a handful of fuzzy mental snapshots I struggle to remember like one struggles to remember their dreams. And all at the same time earlier memories pop out at me and are as clear as day. Like camping with my parents, and driving home from university on weekends, my eighteenth birthday.
The tragic part is that I’m not establishing a new community in Davis. I mean to a point we are. We have friends but Davis is such that people don’t often stay here very long and our own moving date looms over every new relationshi. We will likely be moving two more times before we find a place to settle down.
I am so thankful to be traveling home in 6 short days for almost two weeks! We haven’t been home that long since we left. I’m praying my soul will be refreshed and all of those relationships will be rekindled and I will have stored up enough memories to hold me over until the next trip home or the next visit from Canadians.