04 Dec When Home Finds Me
It’s taken me 12 years to feel like British Columbia is home. It has always felt temporary to me and I’ve often felt a longing to move, to find a place where ideas are being developed, where culture is vibrant, where I am closer to a variety of places to go, similar to living outside Philadelphia. While I don’t know if Kelowna feels like my ideal place to live, it’s beginning to feel like home. I have a love/hate relationship with Kelowna because I believe as a city it lacks soul. I have also not enjoyed the landscape even though many people travel here for it. I often miss the green hills of Pennsylvania and the mass amounts of decidious trees. But in the past six months I have come to feel more at home in the wildnerness like feel of BC. I don’t really know why.
This past summer I took my family back to the Northeast of the states to a family reunion in New Jersey and then a week at my childhood home in Pennsylvania with my parents for a week. It was the first time my wife had been back to that area in close to 10 years. Driving around Doylestown and other neat areas, as well as meeting up with my friends with kids, we left our trip with a determination to move back east. We felt like we needed a change and a challenge for our family. We wanted to be closer to some of my friends and their families. We wanted to be closer to my family for a while. I was excited about things like being able to watch my alma mater play soccer. We were excited about having lots to do within 2 hours.
We returned home and began researching all that we needed to do. Immigration, cost of living, and job were all the main focus. As we continued down this road in the following weeks it became more and more discouraging. But we were determined to not let that stop us. Immigration for Kristi was going to be a pain because she would need to go to Montreal for an interview, and I would need to prove domicile in the states before I could support her. We need to take the kids to Vancouver to get them US passports which are their birth right, but I also need to gather all sorts of proof that I am a citizen and lived there for a long enough period of time. Trying to time all of this while finding a job that would help me prove domicile at the same time as Kristi’s interview just started to feel exhausting.
I’m already exhausted most of the time with four kids and a busy job. I started to feel too tired to take this on. But something else was in the way – something wasn’t feeling right. When I really want something, being tired doesn’t stop me. I am usually energized by a big decision and then I attack it with obsession. Even though it all felt so right after returning from our trip, something was petering out. The drive I normally feel to follow through on this type of change wasn’t there and it was feeling like walking through quicksand on top of the hurculean task it proved to be.
I eventually concluded it wasn’t the time. I should have said we wanted to try and get it done in the next year. So I decided that we would more slowly get done what we need to get done and maybe try and make this happen within the next 5 years. The other complicating factor is Kristi is preparing to go to university to either become a nurse or midwife. We are both very excited about this and it’s an important priority. Again, timing wasn’t the best. So we started to let that dream die a slow death. It had felt so right that our family needed a change, a new adventure. But ultimately I think some part of us called out that we just didn’t have the energy for adventure just yet. It was either that, or it was God or whatever Truth shows up when trying to make decisions.
And since that time, I feel like I have been slowly allowing roots to grow through me and down into the soil of this place. I was surprised and still am. This may just be a season of my life but it is interesting nonetheless. We visited Vancouver Island in September and I love the coast. We lived on the coast for 6 months in a town that was too small and isolated for us, but I still enjoyed many elements of coast living. It has a soul, a mystique, a spirituality to it that makes me feel connected. This contributes to my enjoyment of BC. I’ve also been to Vancouver twice in the past couple months for work and that too has contributed. I’ve been finding a desire within me to do more outdoors, to explore the natural beauty around me, to connect with my home.
We also started looking at houses to rent and that also helped me see what a more settled life could feel like. We are still living in a duplex that we moved in quickly upon returning from living on the coast that was only meant to be temporary. It just doesn’t feel like a settled home, a place where we want to stay and raise our kids. I feel like I’ve been waiting a long time to be somewhere that feels right for our family. I feel like we have been waiting to finally start living a normal life, not a temporary one. For some reason I think I’ve lived in Kelowna, BC Canada for 12 years, resistant to grow roots. Initially I had no intention of moving back east but I think some part of me wanted it before I was conscious of it, and that part didn’t let me settle down. I think I thought we would eventually move.
I think the most interesting thing about all of this is I didn’t consciously set out to feel more grounded here, to accept that this is where we will raise our family, to feel that Canada has become more my home than the US, to appreciate the natural beauty here. I now want to live on some farm on the outskirts of town so the kids can run around wherever, I can chop wood and go for hikes, and our dogs can scour the woods – to create our own little community of people and animals, and a place where I can deepen my soul and my spiritual life. But this has all just been happening in me. Is it me? Is it life? Is it God? It feels like an answer to a prayer I’ve never prayed.
Lastly, nothing in my life has changed from a day to day basis. I don’t actually hike or do anything different with this area, and our family still feels aimless in our pursuit of meaningful activity in Kelowna. I still don’t really know how to live here as a father of four kids. But I have more hope that we will start committing to things. I keep waiting for something to change that will help us move forward but I realize we just have to start living differently. It has been hard to do until now. As the kids grow older I’m sure it will get easier. I actually look forward to a busier family life. At the same time I will appreciate our slow weekends as well.
Life is an interesting endeavor with many twists and turns. I am one who loves change and adventure, but maybe in my later years what I need is a deepening into the place where I am, to see my current reality with fresh eyes, to develop a life discipline that will allow me to travel away from but always return to. Home.