Last week, the sale of my home at 344 Pommel Gate Crescent was finalized, and the new inhabitants assumed ownership. Though my seven years there were officially over, for another six days, I found myself crossing back and forth across the front lawn.
In spite of all my planning, an unexpected event had opened a six-day gap between the house closing and my relocation to Halifax. And for almost a week, I would be homeless.
Upon hearing this news, my nextdoor neighbour, Cari, offered up lodgings at her house, and the day after the close, the 344 lawn traipsing began in earnest.
Reasons for this included the fact that I was still rooting through stuff I had hastily stashed in Cari’s and Kellie’s (my other neighbour) garages on the day of close because, no matter how many boxes were packed and moved and rooms seemingly emptied, stuff magically reappeared out of nowhere, and I had to put it somewhere.
And then there was the issue with my dog, Bella, who kept trotting over to—then patiently waiting at—344’s front stoop to get into “her” house every time I put her out for a pee. The combination of stuff sorting and dog proximity were ample cause for continued traffic to and fro across 344’s lawn.
I was also temporarily fish sitting for other neighbours, who lived kitty corner to my former home. Each evening during the homeless period, as I waited for the shrimp concoction to thaw in order to feed the tropical fish swimming in a jumbo fish tank in the front room, I found myself standing at the bay window, transfixed by my odd detachment to the view of 344.
It looked different, and I did not think of it as home.
I began to let go of my hometown, Waterloo, months before the homeless week. Initially, it was a gentle pulling away—a nostalgia that swept over me when I drove around town, sometimes making me misty-eyed and sometimes, when powerful enough, causing tears to stream down my face. The goodbyes evolved into a perma state-of-mind, and though I felt the farewells every time I traversed the streets, sidewalks and pathways, I noticed the sadness getting nudged aside by something new.
Friends booked time to spend with me as the day my grand plan was to unfold got closer. I was lunched and dined to the tune of an extra seven pounds (or so my scale told me by the time moving day arrived). But I don’t think any of them really believed I would actually leave, and sometimes, neither did I.
For years, leaving my hometown, just hadn’t seemed possible. When the idea first tiptoed into my thoughts, I was firmly entrenched—planted—rooted by three sons whom, I believed, must grow up in one place, Waterloo.
Life filled in the short breaths between babies and toddlers with toys and camps, followed by the telltale timbre of cracking voices signifying movement from boy to man, onto real teenagers with poorly hidden beers clanking in knapsacks on the way out the door Friday nights, and then to the departures to schools and tentative beginnings of careers, until—all of a sudden and far too soon—I was an empty nest cliché. I lived in a house with a diminishing population of boys, mostly launched and not coming back to Waterloo.
In a heartbeat, the childrearing phase of “sage on the stage” was behind, and somehow, I had to ease into a new role as a “guide on the side.” And with no partner beside me to either ease the transition or distract me with all the things we could now do together, two words began to infiltrate every thinking moment: Now what?
I hyperventilated for two years. And then I decided to leave home.
So there I was, 54 years old, staring across at the physical representation of what I once believed was home, 344 Pommel Gate Crescent. And I finally understood. It looked different simply because I was different.
I have had a lifelong ache for “home.” Even as I raised my sons and carried on, I simultaneously sought out ways and things and people and situations that would make me feel inside that I was “home.” I absolutely had stuck myself in the ground in Waterloo to see if the idea of home might take.
But it was only through my homeless state, on the precipice of becoming unstuck, that I began to notice that the presence of home lived in my bones, in my skin, in my breath.
It was never a place or a house. It wasn’t a person. It wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t a job, money, a relationship or a situation. It wasn’t a hope or a dream or somewhere at the end of a rainbow. It was never anything outside of me.
The last morning of my homeless period, I woke early. The morning light had just barely taken over the night, and I felt the day calling. When I opened the door to my room, I was caught by the sight of two teeny, red, sparkly slippers, sitting outside the door as if Dorothy had just walked out of them and left them there for me.
I was reminded of something. Dorothy had figured it out, and finally, so had I.
There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.
Home was, is, and always will be inside me. I do not admonish myself for taking so long find my way home. I am just glad I finally found my way.
PS Hugs and kisses to all the Pommel Gate girls, Presley, Felicity, Carsen, Jorgia and of course, the mamas, Cari and Kellie.