I have been on summer vacation for about 2 weeks now. I made the very long trek home to Canada with my 4 year old son. My husband stayed behind to supervise
our money being sucked out of our house the installation of a new air conditioning unit. I am not living in Little House on the Prairie. I need air conditioning.
So, over my vacation I have spent lots of time preparing for this trip home. It started with my son getting sick with a stomach bug. A really gross, really long stomach bug. Thankfully he was gracious enough not to puke or have diarrhea anywhere on public transportation. He kindly waited until we were at our final destination (my mother’s house). I felt so lucky I thought I should have bought a lottery ticket, but I digress. Thankfully he is over it.
I’ve also spent time this vacation with my 92 year old grandmother. I am very lucky to still have her. She is my only living grandparent. I love listening to her stories and savored the walks I got to take with her on the beach. I only get to see her once a year now that I live down South, and it pains me to see how much older she looks each time I’m home. I am thankful my son is getting to know her, after all she is his great grandmother.
The other thing I’ve done on my summer vacation is notice how much everything has changed in the town where I grew up. Of course, change is inevitable, but I’m not sure how I feel about this kind of change. Let me explain. I grew up in a tiny, liberal arts university town tucked safely away in Eastern Canada. My town was very Normal Rockwell. We had one traffic light. Need I say more? Each time I come home I recognize fewer and fewer people. A whole new generation of people have moved into the town, and the town itself has focused more and more on the artsy fartsy liberal arts university students. Of course, once upon a time I was one of those artsy fartsy liberal arts university students, but I was a chameleon. I was from the town, so I could play double agent; both student and town person. I think I was the only college student that could meet up with her dad on her way to the liquor store (under age of course). Yes, being a townie had some drawbacks.
Each time I’m home I sadly feel less and less conflicted about leaving my little Norman Rockwell town. For years, every time I had to leave to go back to the States I cried to the point of gagging. I plotted my escape back to Canada, but unfortunately for me, moving back was never an option. I started putting down roots south of the border, and well, life happens.
Now when I’m home I’m starting to think of ‘home’ as a place I visit, not a place I am invested in. And I’m not sure how I feel about that. In some ways I feel like a traitor. In other ways, I feel I’ve finally made peace with my decision to leave the motherland. It’s a battle of the heart strings I used to suffer greatly from, but it’s getting a little bit easier.
Something else I’ve done on my summer vacation was visit my dad’s grave. I am indifferent about it. I probably should be some blubbery, weepy mess, throwing myself at the foot of the gravestone in some dramatic fashion, but I simply stood there, pulled some weeds that had grown up around it, said a quick hello, turned and left. It’s still very surreal to me that my dad is a bunch of ashes in an urn, in a box below the ground. I know those are the facts, but somehow, as I look at his grave, it seems impossible that it is his name on the stone. It feels like I’m standing in a graveyard scene in a movie.
I’m spending time at my parents’ place at the beach. They have a seasonal place that has been in our family for over five decades. Unfortunately, the times, they are a changin’. What used to be our own little private Shangri-La with a private lane, private beach and only two neighbors is quickly becoming red neck central. Long story short, the field in back of our water front property does not belong to us. The owners have decided to turn their land into a campground. Yes, you read that correctly. A campground complete with over a dozen fifth wheel trailers, fire pits, yapping dogs, children running amuck and proprietors that, for lack of a better word, dislike us greatly. There are some on going “issues” between us and them and they simply do not care that they are turning a profit on the backs of others.
In short, our little slice of private beach paradise is being overrun by the Griswolds on their family vacation. And it sucks. Our childhood summer place has become infested with ignorami (is that a word? the plural of ignoramus?) whose noise, campfire smoke, barking dogs, and screaming children permeate every crevice of our territory. It puts us all in a bad mood no matter how hard we try to ignore it.
So what did I do on my summer vacation? I think I grew up a little. I think I cut a few ties with my past and I think I am beginning to accept the roots I’ve put down for myself.
I am trying to cherish what is left of my time here at home, but I’m really starting to realize that home is where you make it.