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We moved from Canada to Atlanta in 1999. It’s hard to believe that of the nearly 25 years that my husband and I have been married, Georgia has been our home for more than 17 of them.

And home it is.

As much as I have a deep love for “my country” – and miss my family (and, well,  Tim Hortons coffee…) — when you move to another place, you have no choice but to make it “home.” Sooner or later, even if you’re fighting it, your life starts to morph and mold around this new place. Not just the geography of it – the entireness of it. Things sound different. Smell different. Feel different. Are different.

And you become…well, just a little different. You settle into what becomes your new normal.

The grocery stores that I visited at “home” were Loblaws, No Frills and A & P. Here, I shop for groceries at Publix and Kroger. The Mac’s Milk variety stores don’t exist here. If I have a hankering for a Coffee Crisp or a scratch ticket, I head over to the 7-Eleven or RaceTrac. Oh, no, wait… no Coffee Crisp bars here. Those chocolate bars (aka candy bars) don’t make their way this far south of the border.

And don’t even get me started on the fact that I’ve had to wean myself off my double-doubles.

The hydro bill is…I quickly learned, called a power bill here. And while I’m on this rant, I want to make a note that a toboggan is not a hat, people. It’s a sled. You slide down snowy hills on it.

You can imagine how surprised I was to find out you bought beer at the grocery store, not the beer store. And there are no two-fours to be found anywhere, by the way.

My point is this: We adjusted to our new home, rather quickly, really. I don’t think I have said “eh” in a dozen years or more and my sister still laughs when I say “y’all” — ’cause, yes, I do. And it doesn’t feel weird.

As tough as it is to write this, when I visit family in Canada, I am a visitor. Sure the surroundings are familiar, and I feel this whoosh of nostalgia as soon as we cross the border–but, even in the familiar places, I know that I am not home.

If I were home, I would know where my sisters’ keep their coffee cups or what brand of shampoo they would want me to pick up for them at Shoppers Drug Mart. But I am not part of the conversation anymore. I’m out of sync. The easy rhythm they fall into when they see each other isn’t there for me. I am the outsider – unaware of the upcoming sale at Sears or what time the kids get out of school. And even though I know that I am always welcome, I’m not home.

The reality that my children have truly left home hit me big time just last week. It’s not that I haven’t adjusted to their absence, but I guess I still thought of our home as their home. The place where they still felt that feeling…

Our youngest son, who moved to Alabama earlier this year, was visiting. We had a great time. He saw family. Played with his nieces. Slept in his old room. And I was in heaven. He was home. All felt right in my world. And the morning after he left to drive back to Mobile, I woke to this text message on my phone:

“I’m home.”

And my first thought was, “No you’re not! Your home is here.” (Insert selfish motherhood moment)

Obviously that’s the denial kicking back in, but, yes, he was home. All four of them are home – building their lives.

So, what is home, really? Well, even if it is a place – a house, a camper, a cabin in the woods — it’s so much more than that.

I think home is where you feel the most like you. You at that very moment in time. Where your current life — whatever stage or age — makes the most sense.

Home is that feeling that you are right where you belong.

And if you’re lucky, you’ll find (your) home no matter where you are.