Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Heart and Home in Nova Scotia

Arriving in Nova Scotia in May 2002. In the photo album, I wrote "Finally!"

Tuesday morning, after I'd dropped Mother off at the airport in Moncton, I popped in a CD of music and headed right back to Nova Scotia. It was just before eleven o'clock and the sun was high and bright after so many days of grey November skies.
The road spilled out in front of me, a smooth ribbon of asphalt, and I turned on the cruise control and relaxed.

I don't often drive by myself in a vehicle these days; usually I'm with Mother or Dwayne so this was a rare treat. It reminded me I used to do this all the time, drive long distances by myself and have hours (even days) alone with my thoughts. Some people dread that; I'd forgotten how essential this quiet time is. So many ideas percolated, so many problems resolved. You don't get this while travelling with someone.

There's a particular point on the TransCanada Highway before you reach Sackville where, when you look ahead and if there isn't much traffic and you aren't involved in a conversation, you see the highway undulating a long way into the distance through those northern Appalachian hills. When I looked ahead and saw this empty stretch of road, I suddenly had this strong surge of feeling. Like a body-sized tidal bore washing through me.

The feeling of going home.

I've lived in rural Nova Scotia for over 12 years yet when I saw that view on Tuesday morning, I felt the same way I did 17 years ago when I drove to Nova Scotia after more than ten years away. After five years in Vancouver and a yoga instructor saying "Make this the year you go towards what makes you happy." After a two-week drive across the country to get where I wanted to be.

Where I needed to be.

I needed to be with my parents as it turned out, but also the East Coast. It seems I planted the seed of my true heart in Nova Scotia's red soil with our first family visit in 1979 and it simply kept growing, waiting for me to return.

Where I needed to be then and now.

Even though I was born and raised in Ontario, even though my best friends live there and I visit at least once a year, that feeling of "coming home" to Nova Scotia is still as strong in me as it was in 2002, and then again in 2007 when I drove down to start my life with Dwayne. Permanent residency, after all those years of driving away.

Maybe because it's been such a difficult summer and fall, maybe because I'm living with the uncertainty of work, maybe because we are adjusting to the impact of Dwayne's stroke has had on our life together, for all of those reasons, perhaps I needed to remember:
Nova Scotia is home to me. Not an address home but a rooted home, a spiritual home, a place-where-I-belong home.

It goes beyond being married to a Nova Scotia country boy, it goes beyond my mother living with us, it goes beyond the field and the woods and the water. It even goes beyond my worries about what I'll do if something happens to Dwayne (you know - something).
It's a twist on the cliche "Home is where the heart is" because it simply feels like this is where my heart planted itself (knowing itself better than I've ever known it), where it lives and thrives. This is where I find my inspiration, my courage, my joy, my peace, and my hope.

Yes. And just now, a memory: Telling Dwayne at the end of the summer we met and fell in love that if I was to get a tattoo, I'd get two of them on the tops of my feet so I'd see them every time I did yoga. One would say Peace and the other Hope.
"Because that is what I found this summer here in Nova Scotia and with you."

So for everyone feeling adrift and alone, scared and scattered, like you just don't fit in anywhere, home doesn't have to be where you were born or where your family lives. Sure, those places can be home, but home is where your heart feels brave and safe, content and loved and supported. Home is where you can breathe and be free, where you are a bulb planted deep in the soil believing that at the right time, your roots will dive down and your heart will reach up until you burst into the life you are meant to live. No matter what happens in that life, when and why, you will have reached what makes you happy.

Forty years.
Seventeen years.
Twelve years.
15 months.
One hour.
How ever long it takes,
you arrive.

Stella and I arriving in March 2007. In that photo album, I wrote, "Home."

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