This piece first appeared in Issue Zero of our print magazine, April 2016.
I like moving around. Maybe it’s my introverted personality that craves sneaking in and out of cities and towns before I get too attached to the people and places within them. It could be the thrill of starting fresh and wiping the slate clean for new opportunities and experiences. Maybe I just never found the right place to call home.
I’m a pretty easy-going, not too demanding kind of person. But when it comes to choosing a place to live, my list of must-haves is pretty long. Growing up in a family that planted deep and meaningful roots in the spot they called home, I had some pretty high expectations of what home was going to mean for my family and me.
It took 10 years of living on the West Coast for me to stop referring to Ontario as home. My husband and I have strong ties there. We (mostly me) were still clinging to an identity that I had outgrown and roots that were no longer connected to the person I am now. I was craving a place to call my own. I was looking for a community to raise my kids in, a place that reflected who we are as a family and a place that inspired me to actively engage in its growth and development.
To be honest, New Westminster was a place we could afford. I think I cried a little the day we moved into our little bungalow in Glenbrook North. It wasn’t quite what I had in mind. But, there was no turning back. The papers were signed. It was a done deal. It was exciting to be homeowners, but I was terrified that New West was the wrong fit. I knew nothing about this city. I felt no attachment to its history and I was totally oblivious to the vision running across and up and down its streets.
There is a sense of place here. I was quickly wrapped up in the city’s intrinsic character and fell in love with its unassuming confidence and passion for new ideas and purposeful changes. Though our physical identity is shifting, the heart of this city runs deep.
Wendell Berry famously said ‘If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are’. I know where I am and I love it. Living in New Westminster these past four years has solidified my family. This is our home. This is where we live and this is where we are setting roots and seeking out meaningful and fulfilling relationships and experiences of our own.
Every once in awhile I still get the itch to pack up and move somewhere new. But the pull to stay put is stronger–for now.