“Where you come from is gone, where you thought you were going to was never there, and where you are is no good unless you can get away from it. Where is there a place for you to be? No place . . . Nothing outside you can give you any place . . . In yourself right now is all the place you’ve got.” – Flannery O’Connor
Home. It becomes a more confusing word with each chapter in my life. And I find myself intrigued by the concept of “place” in the world, and where I fit. Growing up in a town of five hundred people in rural Saskatchewan, I was blessed with the love and friendship of a tight-knit community, but I couldn’t wait to move to Saskatoon. I’d always been drawn to the idea of “the city,” a place of wonder and mystery, of seemingly endless things to do.
When I arrived in Saskatoon for the next chapter of my life, university, I felt I couldn’t be happier. Big city, fresh start. I knew it all. I was an adult. I had arrived in “my place,” where I wanted to be. But two years in, I realized I felt no particular tie to Saskatoon itself, and started wondering where I’d settle down and build my white picket fence life. After four years of undergraduate studies, I had a gap year — one not spent travelling but taking online courses and figuring out where I wanted to be while pondering the favourite question of the twenties-something: “What do I want to do with my life?”
In my university years, I spent time each summer in Calgary and came to fall in love with the city, and even more so with its proximity to the mountains. Spurred on by big dreams of building a career in a city that seemed to hold endless promise for all aspects of my life at the time, I headed west for the next chapter.
Again, when I arrived, I felt I couldn’t be happier. Bigger city, fresh start. I knew I didn’t know it all, but I was learning. My first year in Calgary marked significant shifts in my personal and professional life. Perhaps for this reason, I felt that Calgary was truly “my place,” the place where I was supposed to put down those roots everyone talks about.
And then two years into this chapter, an impromptu trip, my first solo excursion abroad, changed all that. The travel bug didn’t just bite me: it started gnawing at my core. I returned to Calgary with an ever-growing sense of restlessness that I largely ignored for the better part of the next two years. Was Calgary my place? Where did I want to “be”?
Then almost a year ago to the day, a friend and I headed to Europe for a month. Ah Europe. The cobblestone, the intrigue, the stolen moments of laughter, reflection, rendezvous, and oh, the wine, the wine, the wine. And the croissants. The minute I set foot on London soil, I felt I had arrived home. There was a pull, a tie to “place” unlike any other I’d felt before. And on our last day in Europe, as I sat in Rome contemplating the month that had passed, I realized that I wasn’t done with Europe, or rather, that Europe wasn’t done with me. And with that realization, the weight of restlessness lifted. It was time to prepare for the new “place” in my life.
Now settled in my new chapter in London, I’ve arrived. I couldn’t be happier. Biggest city, fresh start. I’m keenly aware of the fact I don’t know it all, and never will. In fact, I might just be more confused than ever. But right now, London is “my place.” I don’t want to imagine living anywhere else.
For the moment.
And in this contentment I wonder, am I destined to wander, forever feeling the pull of new “place”? But what I do know for sure is the most important truth I own: home is in the people we love, not the place. Home is within.