I just got the requisite "snowdrop/crocus in February" photo montage from my Vancouver relatives. It's an annual tradition, made to taunt ex-pats still shivering in mid-winter across the country. It's pretty funny.
There are things you don’t know you know until you are about to leave them. Before I left Vancouver at 13, I didn’t know how good the city smelled, that the line of the mountains was more familiar to me than the curve of my own arm.
When we moved to Toronto, the pollution made my lungs tight, the landscape made me frantic. I scanned the horizon daily, looking for some far point– no, not the CN tower – something vast but knowable, that would root me in my spot on earth.
But after a year or more I adjusted my vision to become more myopic. I learned to focus on the basket curve of the chestnut branches outside my window or the steep angle of Victorian rowhouse rooftops. I knew this place. But I also had a new power – I had learned that you could know just about any place with time.
I learned to be open to the intricacies of probably a dozen more landscapes in different neighbourhoods, countries and climates, pining for each one as I left it, but excited to map the new place ahead. But lately, it seems that the older I get, the harder it gets for me to let go of the points that anchor me here.
Maybe it’s that I’ve become stubborn with motherhood, but I this month we learned we need to find a new apartment, and it’s a bit mind-boggling to imagine the transplant this time. There’s still that echo of excitement about finding a new space and making it our own, but there is so much to root us right here.
G. was born here. There are neighbourhood kids that he has known since his first year. The collective of lovely neighbours. The honey locust tree outside our bedroom window that is the last to lose its leaves in fall. And of course, there are the pragmatic choices dictated by the child - issues like school districts and work commutes and whether we want to become “car people” for the fist time.
When did I learn to become so attached? Go for a walk some time with a 3 year-old, and it’s all about owning the minutiae of his landscape. Every crack on the sidewalk. Every raised curb used for balance. Every boulder he can climb on. He doesn’t know it yet, but he knows this place.