Thursday, June 14, 2012

Breaking the Silence

I have been “quiet” for the past couple of weeks. No blog posts. Limited tweeting. Minimal Facebook activity. There are times in life, in my life, when it is necessary to, in a way, cut the cord disconnect from society, change up my routine. For me, it is a good way to get back to myself and hear myself think.

There have been times in the last year when I have mused “publicly” (on social media) about whether or not I will stay in Sherbrooke, whether this is home. And like the ebb and flow of the tide, my opinion has switched back and forth between staying and going. One day I’m staying, hoping to blossom where I am planted. The next day I am ready to pack it all in, move and start again somewhere new. Today? Hmm …

Last week I drove down to Halifax (Nova Scotia) to spend some time with my sister and her family. I hadn’t seen my nephews two-year-old twins since Christmas. It was great to see my family, wind up my nephews, and then hand them back over to my sister and her husband. Oh, the joy of being an uncle!

It took me eleven hours (stops included) to drive from Sherbrooke to Halifax, and another eleven hours to drive from Halifax to Sherbrooke. That was a lot of time sitting, keeping my eye on the lookout for the police as I sped along. It was a lot of time to think and be at one with myself.

I left Halifax, “for good,” in August 1999. I left because I didn’t feel at home there, that I couldn’t be me. It was like I was playing a part. I didn’t feel connected — not to my family, not to myself. Thirteen years after my departure, I still don’t feel that I belong there, despite the fact that my sister is there and that our family history runs deep. It was an odd feeling, as much as it was a relief, to be sitting around with my mother’s brothers and sisters and cousins, and to realize that this place was in fact not my home. It was the place where I was born, but I don’t live there anymore. It was a foreign place. Maybe it wasn’t foreign but that, more to the point, I was the foreigner. Conversations felt forced, like we were searching for some tiny thread to keep us connected.

I’m not saying that life in Sherbrooke is perfect. It’s been difficult “putting down roots,” as they say, creating a circle of friends. But here, there is no part to play, no one looking through me instead of at me. Do you know what I mean? There is, quite simply, no pretending.

Despite what I sometimes think, I have made a home for myself here in Sherbrooke. I’m greeted warmly by the owner and staff at the neighbourhood coffeehouse, Le Tassé, where I’m a regular wall fixture. The elderly couple who live a few blocks away always stop what they’re doing and say hello to me. There’s the woman at the end of my street who smiles and offers a generous, “Bonjour,” as she walks her German shepherd. These are a few of the imprints of home, or perhaps more accurately, the foundation stone of the home I am slowly building.

That is why, as Maya Angelou said, “I long, as every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.”

1 comment:

  1. Merci de ta visite! Je suis si contente que tu sois chez toi a Sherbrooke. Tu nous manques!