Friday, October 27, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

Wednesday, October 17, 2006 ~ Toronto, Ontario

As I drive through the city to Hwy. 401, my route out of Toronto and eastward to Montreal, I gain a new understanding of the phrase,there's no place like home.

In The Wizard of Oz Dorothy repeats it three times and it takes her back to Kansas. It takes her home.

For Dorothy it's an acknowledgment that no place, even Oz, can match the magnetic pull of where she came from.

For me, after two and a half days in the metropolis that was my home for a dozen years, it's the final nail in the coffin of my old concept of home. There's no place anymore that is the kind of home I once knew: a place where I felt rooted, grounded and secure. A place I could nest into. A place I could be from.

My first response to Toronto after nearly a decade was that we'd grown apart, the city and I. As I drove in and, later, walked around -- rubbernecking all the way -- I felt that I could never live here.

Without warning, though, the strangeness morphed into a kind of familiarity, the familiarity into a kind of nostalgia.

At first I mistook it for an opening to return, to live here again. And why not? I loved being able to walk places, to be free of the car. I loved the diversity, the buzz. I loved being some place where my history spanned longer than a hotel night, where I had friends with whom I shared a common cultural vocabulary.

Yet all the while something nagged at me about those feelings. Something wasn't quite right. I just couldn't identify it.

Today, my time here complete, I realize that my nostalgia isn't for Toronto and my friends here. It's for a concept of home that once felt so comfortably familiar. That once felt so safe.

I realize that Toronto is the last place I felt at home in that way, perhaps the only place I ever felt at home in that way.

I realize that there's no place like that kind of home anymore. I've sensed it for some time. Today I feel it. Today I know it.

Today I shed it to make way for whatever my new concept of home will be.

I don't know yet what that is. It may not even be place-centered.

I do know that wherever I land, for however long that is, home will never be the same.

There's no place like home was. There is a place for what home is becoming.

Photo by Mark David Gerson: Toronto's CN Tower

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