THE PLACE CALL HOME

I think too much. Today, I’m thinking about the place call home. Where is it for me – the China where I was born, Maidstone, Saskatchewan where I took grade 1-12 or here, in Saskatoon, where I have lived since?

Was it Thomas Wolfe who said you can never go home again?  It’s true. On a trip to Hong Kong, I tried to speak Chinese to the store merchants while shopping for souvenirs. They could not understand me. My travel mates told me to speak English for heaven’s sake. I was crushed. On another trip to China, I tried to find my way back to my home village. No luck for various reasons. On my return home, my mother informed me that our cousin laughed about my clumsy Chinese when I tried to talk to her on the phone. More crushing. It’s not for lack of trying but lack of appreciation by others that I couldn’t find home.

Is home a place then? I spent most of my formative years (12) in Maidstone. I always refer it as my hometown. But is it home? We owned the house we lived in. My father and his cousin owned the Rex Cafe they operated together. I knew the teachers and most of the kids in school. The year I finished grade 12, my family moved to NYC. But even before the move, I sensed that we were really not part of the fabric. We were one of the 3 Chinese families in town. We had the cafe.

My parents didn’t belong/participate in any community groups or activities. My mother had only a spattering of English. I had never felt the aloneness and separation of homelessness till that end of that summer. I came back to Maidstone to pack up for going to university in Saskatoon. We had not yet all moved. My father was still in the process of finalizing the sale of the house and cafe. My grandparents were still in the house. But already I was feeling gone and invisible. It was as if the town had shifted and filled in the spaces we once occupied.

For me then, home is not so much a place as the warmth of feelings, the rushing arms of a welcoming. Home is the moment that Sheba runs out the door, tail wagging and squealing with delight after just a couple of days away. She gallops back and forth, unable to contain her happiness at seeing us. We watch her antics, misty-eyed and hearts full – owners and dog sitter. We were all home in the moment of pure love.

About hafong

Hello! My name is (Leung) Hafong alias Lily Leung. You always say the last name first….that is the Chinese way. That is my partner lurking behind me. Since this is my blog, I won’t mention his name. But this is a rather cool picture. You see me and yet you don’t…sort of the way I feel about myself most of my life. So this blog is a self-exploration, an archeology dig of some sort. My tools…..words of a thousand or so at a sitting. I will try for that.
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6 Responses to THE PLACE CALL HOME

  1. When I was in my 30’s my husband and I moved to a community, I won’t say where, but we had hoped to live there. We never fit in. After four years, we realized we never would fit in. We left. It wasn’t your situation but I have felt some of what you felt. I sometimes wonder…if we had tried harder..if we had done this, or done that. I don’t know why, over 30 years later, it still matters.

    • hafong says:

      Somehow, those feelings of not fitting and accepted always matter. The sting fades but never disappears for me. It’s a comfort someone else experiences the same. Thanks for coming by.

      Lily

  2. Even though I was born in this country, I have never been able to go back to any of the houses where I’ve lived and feel it’s home. We still own the last home we lived in and the one before that. What makes a place home is being with those you love and where you keep anything personally important to you. Whether it’s your address or your town, it never seems to be the same unless the same people you loved when you left are still there.

  3. Martha DeMeo says:

    How great to learn a bit about you. I love the last paragraph….not a place but warm feelings. You have found your home!

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