They say home is where the heart is. I don’t know who “they” are, but I’m not sure I fully agree with them. It is logical that where you find love, ultimately you should be content. However, I don’t believe that finding the object of your heart’s great love in a place necessarily creates an undeniable impression of “home”.
I grew up in the Toronto area, so technically speaking, it is home. It was my birthplace, is the area where my family resides, and I have many memories there. In 2007, I decided to go on an adventure and take a job on Vancouver Island. I had always felt an innate attraction to BC. Having always had a bit of a hippie side, this wasn’t a surprise to most. I left Ontario in January 2007 and within days of landing on the Island, I felt as though I’d found home.
Jumping over the years between then and now, here I sit, writing this post from a table overlooking the ocean; the Straight of Georgia to be exact. I’m back in the Comox Valley for just a visit, and yet I feel like I’ve returned home.
I used to have a major fear of flying. I never let it stop me from travelling, but I had my share of anxiety attacks before takeoff, during turbulence and landing. At some point I started drinking a glass of wine or two before a flight and found that did the trick. For a business trip from Comox to Phoenix, Arizona, my employer booked my flight from Comox to Vancouver on Coast Mountain Air. CMA runs small planes: Beech 1900D, twin-engine turbroprops. They are 18-seaters, so for someone who does not like to fly, they are terrifying. You can feel every bump, see into the cockpit, and view the runway through the windshield as it approaches. That day I flew at 8am, so I certainly didn’t have any opportunity to drink beforehand. I woke up in the morning in a complete panic, refusing to go. I did get on that plane, and I didn’t enjoy a single moment of it.
Friday, we flew from Toronto to Vancouver first. My two year old son Elijah was an absolute angel the entire 5 hour flight, enjoying the trip quietly and enthusiastically. I marveled at his joy and complete lack of fear about anything out of his control. Fellow passengers commented about his good behavior and humour and the ease with which he slipped into a deep sleep in the seat that was so oversized for him. He found creative ways to play in his seat with his matchbox cars and tank engines, snacked on cashews and dried fruit, and didn’t even watch a movie. I did fine too, having lately found myself worrying very little and letting go more of circumstances beyond my control.
In Vancouver, we waited for our CMA flight to Comox; the one I had personally booked for us months before, long enough before the trip that I could ignore my fear. This was the real test. The butterflies congregated in my belly, flying around and making me feel nauseous. Perhaps my newfound confidence was really just a hoax – of course I could manage a turbulence-free flight on an Airbus 320. We boarded the turboprop and little Elijah sat in his own seat, happily eating apple chips. I felt ok. We took off and were up to cruising altitude in no time for the short jaunt. I watched as my little boy placed his chin on the windowsill and silently, maturely watched the world below.
And me? As we crossed the straight below, I pressed my face against the window like a child, sat in peace and cried. No fear, no nervousness, just awe. This place is simply marvelous; the vast cobalt waters and emerald inlets, the snow-covered mountaintops and glacier, the huge groves of evergreens and the sheer breadth of wild, raw beauty. I can’t accurately express what the West Coast does to me – shivers travel down my spine, goosebumps cover my arms, a warm glow fills my heart. I have been in every province from New Brunswick, west (except the Yukon and Northwest Territories), and I do hear about the loveliness of the East Coast, but to me the West holds some of the greatest natural treasures to be found in Canada, and in the World. My worries and anxiety were absent, perhaps vanished forever, as I gazed out and down and absorbed the majesty of my destination. I was filled to the brim with love, joy and peace in those moments, irrespective the somewhat challenging nature of my life at present.
I may never live here again; I don’t know where life will take me and I’m open to adventures of all kinds. True, I don’t actually live here, but for this week in actuality, and for the rest of my life in spirit, it is here that I am home.
[….I wasn’t intending to write about this trip but I have a feeling, as we enjoy home and travel up to the Yukon next week, there is more to come. ]