I grew up in Toronto in a beautiful white house with marble floors, tall ceilings, skylights, and beautiful woods in the backyard that lead to a ravine. For years, Toronto was all I knew. A big city, tall buildings, the constant noise of traffic, the constant bustle of people, it was like living in a never-ending movement. When grade 12 came around, it was time to choose where to go to university. I had applied all over Ontario, ranging from the University of Toronto to Queens, to where I ended up, the University of Ottawa. When I moved to Ottawa, my family moved houses in Toronto, away from the house I had grown up in and into a house that I didn’t even see until Christmas break when I went to visit my family.
Ottawa temporarily became my home. I got into a routine, I made great friends, I became comfortable.
When I returned to Toronto, it didn’t feel like I was returning home. It was strange living in a new house that felt so impersonal to me, but I wasn’t there for too long. The next year, I had applied and been accepted for a program with the Walt Disney World Company and when I finished my second year in Ottawa in April, I went straight off to Florida. While I was in Florida, my family moved again. When I returned from my summer abroad, I couldn’t process that we had moved (especially since I arrived back in Toronto in the middle of the night). I remember waking up disoriented and confused, where was I? Was this where we lived now? Was this what home was for me now?
I was only in Toronto for a couple of weeks before heading back to Ottawa where I was moving into a new apartment than the one I had lived in during my second year of school. If you’re losing count, I’m up to 5 different places I’ve lived in since my first year of university.
I’ve noticed in the past couple of years that there seems to be a lot of emphasis on where your “home” is. For some people, it’s the city they grew up in, or their family’s home – wherever they were born, but for some people (like me) home can be a lot of places and can constantly change month-by-month, year-by-year. During my summer in Florida, I felt like Florida was my home and leaving it was really, really hard, because I knew I couldn’t go hop on a train and visit whenever I wanted to like I could for Toronto.
For those who feel like they don’t have a stable place to call home, it is O.K. You may have heard that a house is not a home, and it’s true.
I’ve never found my “home” to be a structure, a building, an apartment or even a city. Home is wherever you choose it to be. I may have spent 18 years in Toronto, have gone to the same school from 1999 until 2013, but Toronto and my old white house is only one of my homes. As I get older, I’m realizing that home for me is wherever I want to be, and maybe one day that place will stay the same.
Photo Credit: Francesco Scaramella