I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a place to live in have that special place in your heart, the indescribable emotional attachment, in a word, just feels like home. I think that a lot of people choose their home because of economic and social reasons. But I think there’s more to it than that, especially here in Newfoundland. I believe there’s something else that keeps people coming back to this great big rock, regardless of whether they move away and want to come back or just feel as though they could never leave. There’s a certain thing, it’s hard to put into words, but there’s something that keeps people attached to this place with a kind of passion and inherent belonging that I’ve never seen anywhere else.
I believe that it has to do with our idea of home. The place where we grow up has a very interesting quality to it that can only be described as the place that we grew up. But what exactly do we mean? Some people don’t have fond memories of home and that’s a shame, but what I’m talking about is the fact that there are people that never leave their hometown. I know lots of them, in Halifax and Corner Brook there are plenty of people that just feel as though where they grew up is enough to keep them satisfied. I think for some people a part of our intrinsic “self hood” is the place that we reside in. The place that we made our formative experiences in life is very closely linked with our identity of who we are.
My grandfather loved looking out of his front porch and seeing the field that he used to play baseball in, being in the same neighborhood that he grew up in, being close to his family, and I’m sure there are a dozen other things that I’ve never learned about or are forgetting. I think this identification with a certain geographic area is very peculiar and fascinating. Being the age that I am I don’t feel much sense of nostalgia for the schools that I went to, fuck those places. But I do feel a sense of belonging to the city of Halifax. Like the city is a jigsaw puzzle and I just happen to fit in well. There’s something about knowing exactly what’s down every side street and alleyway that makes me feel like a kind of a master on the subject. Seeing the slight changes in the potholes over the winters and recalling the memories of riding down each street on my skateboard, remembering the pain when I walk by the places where I wiped out and a similar rush of ecstasy in the places where I landed the tricks all give me the kind of feeling that I am at a loss of words to describe and I can only attempt to describe it as “homely”. I think it’s this constant recalling of past experiences and sense of belonging that keeps people on Newfoundland. I think moving to another place just adds unnecessary speed bumps of sorts, where you need to make new friends, meet new people, and forge an altogether new path for yourself. Moving is a big change, it was a good thing for me, I felt as though I needed that kind of big change in my life. But I also believe that for most people the slow gradual change of seeing something evolve very slowly over years and decades can be just as meaningful and necessary to our sense of becoming the person that we want to be as uprooting yourself and learning to live outside of your hometown. To be a part of a community for your whole life is something that the jet-set lifestyle can’t accommodate. The traveler has an infinite place to stay, but nowhere to call home. I’m glad I have a home, I’m glad I left my home, it’s funny to think that being away from home is what made me understand the idea even better.