The definition of 'home' has been problematic for me. Much of that I attribute to a lot of wandering. My father has been an industrial electrician for most of his life. As such, my childhood has been one of constant relocation, moving from one project to the next, rarely spending more than a year in any one place.
And those places? They consist of pretty much every one horse town in central British Columbia and a few beyond. Perhaps part of the reason I took to the small living space of my flat in the UK so readily is because much of my childhood was spent living in trailers (larger caravans, for you Brits), mobile homes, townhouses, and even hotel rooms. I don't remember exactly when we actually moved into my parents' home in Prince George. I think it may have been when I was around 10 or so. However, we never stayed in it much, as Dad's job kept pulling us elsewhere and everywhere. The house served more as a 'base camp' to which we would return to on weekends and between jobs. It was only after my first year of high school (a psychologically disastrous one for me) that my mother insisted that she, my brother and I had to remain in PG.
Few of my memories of any of these places are at all fond. As the perpetual new kid, along with sporting glasses and being a butterball, I quickly developed a strong distaste for local populations of rednecks early on in my schooling. By the time we truly settled in PG, what social development I had was pretty much stunted by nearly a decade of intense bullying. I may have spent more of my life there than in any other one location, and, indeed, it is even the city of my birth, but it ceased being 'home' for me long ago and, instead, became a prison from which to escape.
That escape took place in my early twenties when I left for Victoria, BC, to attend art school. Victoria was a whole new world for me, filled with wonder, beauty, and culture. Surrounded by Mother Ocean and filled with many hidden treasures, I felt an immediate and deep connection to this place. The move to Victoria reflected more than just a change of geography, it also marked my transformation from bitter ex-Catholic to a life-reaffirming Wiccan, as well as the first steps towards becoming a teacher. It was Victorian soil that saw me blossom spiritually, educationally and socially.
In part, being separated from the only place I ever truly considered 'home' was one of the reasons why my first year teaching in the UK was so traumatic. (Of course, the sheer wretchedness of my first pupils played a MUCH greater part.) The irony that I was moving from place to place following the work, as my father had done (and still does), did not escape me.
For all the trials of teaching here, all the tears, all the trauma, the UK has seen a lot of my development, professionally, emotionally, and even physically, albeit much of that in a 'sink or swim' capacity. I've even come to enjoy the last year of my existence in my cozy little flat, the only place I've ever occupied entirely by myself. I will miss it, and the farms, and the trails along which I run. I will also miss the wonders of London and other amazing parts of Britain that I have, and yet to have, explored.
I'm certain my journey through life will take me through many other incredible places. Aside from the UK, it has already seen both coasts of Canada, a couple of stays in Toronto, visits to Washington State and California, and even two months in South Australia. Along the way, my fascination with problem of personal connection to space has manifested in an astounding collection of photos, some of which are the only thing that can say "I have been here." I'm certain I will add many, many more photos to that collection (and to that of my heart shaped stones) before I finally come to 'home.'