Lately I’ve been feeling nostalgic for my hometown of Edmonton.
I can’t pinpoint what, exactly, is making me feel these waves of homesickness. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s been a while since I’ve been amongst old friends. Or maybe it’s the nostalgia of the holidays. Or perhaps, just perhaps, it is a simple fact of life that I will always define “home” as the place I grew up, and not the place I live.
Or maybe I’m just bad at living away from home.
I have a complicated relationship with being away from Alberta. On one hand, I’m grateful for the opportunity to explore a new city and meet new people. If I hadn’t lived in Kamloops, for instance, I would have never discovered my love for the outdoors. And, without living in Oakville, I would have never discovered how cathartic it is to live near a big body of water like Lake Ontario. Also- there’s no denying it- I’m grateful to live in a place with a shorter winter than Edmonton can offer.
But the truth is l also feel conflicted about living away from home. That somehow I’ve compromised my values. I value family and I often feel sad that my children won’t experience what it is to have family close by. The ease of feeling connected to those you love when you see them regularly. It’s no coincidence that the Aunt I feel closest to, for instance, is the one I grew up living in the same city as.
But I also value adventure and the opportunity to explore new places and see new things. Living in a new city innately provides this opportunity.
These values of adventure and of family feel like opposing forces at times; for instance, when we are thinking about where to go on vacation. It is always a difficult decision about whether to explore new territory, or go visit family somewhere. With finite funds, the decisions become ridden with guilt and I often feel at odds with myself.
We had good reasons for moving here but I guess I’m still waiting for the moment when my values feel aligned with my decisions and I walk through the door and feel that I am “home”.
Until then, whenever I feel homesick, I ask myself one simple question: “If you could make the choice again, would you have doubts if you said no?“. The answer is always “yes”. Only when I ask myself that question do I feel I’m exactly where I need to be.
Do you live away from home? How do you deal with homesickness?