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.