People of Place

I’m about to finish my undergraduate degree and embark on a seven-week road trip into the heart of British Columbia, Canada. But this trip is more than just a right of passage, a graduation gift, or a holiday. For me, this trip is about self-discovery.

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I’ve lived in Victoria B.C. for as long as my mind can recall. My parents moved here when I was three years old to be closer to my grandparents. My parents met in Toronto, where they had my brother and I. But they had no ties to the city. They were completely free to resettle anywhere within a reasonable distance of my grandparents. So they did. Here, in Victoria, B.C.

And am I ever glad they did. Because there is no other place in the world that I feel so at home.

What is home? I’ve asked this question to a few wanderers I’ve met bouncing all over the globe. I’ve even asked people right here in Victoria. What I’ve noticed is that home can be an evasive concept. For some, it’s where family is, for others where your community is, where memories of curling up on the furnace in the early morning come from, wherever you plane lands, or it may even be a foreign concept altogether. For me, home is a feeling; a sense of belonging.

Every time I return to Victoria, I get that feeling. It’s like a hug, a warm familiar embrace with someone that’s nurtured and cared for me for a long time. It’s an unconditional type of love. A sort of, “no matter what you do, I’m going to be here” love. A “you may not like me all the time, in fact, you may hate me, but I’ll remain here,” sort of love. The sort of love that makes you feel whole. That’s the sort of belonging that I feel when I come home to Victoria.

There are many things that I love about this place; the size, the social & environmental focus, the fact that I’m never more than 20 minutes from the ocean, to name a few. I grew up swimming in that ocean, climbing in trees, and running around in a princess dress with dirty, bare feet. After 23 years of running around with bare feet, Victoria is literally a part of me.

A friend laughed a me the other day as we drove around town running errands. “This is my old stomping ground!” I would exclaim. “Everywhere is your old stomping ground,” he would groan back. I hate to say it, but it’s funny because it’s true. When I bus, walk, or catch a lift around town I can recall a memory in nearly every neighbourhood. Victoria is literally a part of me, and I am a part of Victoria.

I am a person of this place.

I always thought Victoria was my home. But maybe, I’m home to Victoria too. Victoria travels with me all around the world. It’s the part of me that argues that social and environmental sustainability is the future. It’s the part of me that gets excited when I meet someone from Vancouver in a different country. The person who gets so excited for arts and culture and cities with green spaces. The person who smiles when people complain about weather patterns with split personalities and responds, “it just like home”.

So now, Victoria is going to travel with me all the way around British Columbia on my seven week, 7,000 km journey. It’s going to colour my perspective, it’s going to help me stay open to different ways of life, and it’s going to help me notice what I share with the people who live in this province. Why? Because B.C. is the home to Victoria.

If B.C. was a body, Victoria would be it’s left arm. So, how can I know myself if I don’t know the rest of my own body? How can anyone know their home if they only know the front entrance? How could they know their community, if they don’t know any of their neighbours?

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How will I become acquainted with the rest of this home? Well, besides just using my own observations, I’m a big fan of face to face conversations about shared values. I like living stories and vibrant characters, don’t you? So, I’ll be asking people what it is about how their home that has shaped them. I’ll ask them how they are people of place in hopes of gaining better insight on how this entire body can function as a whole.

You can follow me on this blog as I search for a little bit of home in B.C. Stay tuned for the next blog as I share more motivations for this road trip & the process of preparation.


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