I've been having a bit of a throwback week. The other night I listened to the Matthew Good Band album 'Underdogs' which was my favourite album in grade 8/9. MGB has a song (off a later album) called Running For Home. I've always loved it. It's the chapter-soundtrack to a chapter in one of my stories. I associate it with that feeling you get every so often, that painful need to be home that instant even if you don't want to go. I keep thinking that someday I'll get my baby grand piano back and learn how to play the song.
I came back to Ottawa with the intention of it being a stop-over point on my way to my ultimate destination (Montreal). I was going to do the social rounds, empty out my storage locker, get rid of a lot of old stuff and then keep heading east to Montreal. Instead I've realize I need to stay for a while. This decision is not made without some serious hesitation. Ottawa is not an easy place for me. I left for a reason. I left because this is where I grew up, and because that life, that family, that person I once was doesn't exist anymore. I can't see this place with the kind of fondness some of my friends must. It is not that safe harbour in the storm. It is not the place you go back to at Christmas. I have not spent a Christmas here since 2005, and that was a wretched experience I have no wish to relive or repeat.
But I need to be here right now. There are people here who I love and who I have missed with all my heart and I am not ready to leave again. I was shocked to hear myself say this last night. I was talking with my father's wife, trying to figure out why I've been stalling finding a job and a place to live in Montreal. I honestly wasn't sure what the hold-up was. I like Montreal. It's a great city. I feel natural as breathing there. Only... I keep holing up in my father's basement ripping apart old dolls clothes to make a quilt instead of looking for a new job or a new apartment in Montreal. I thought I'd want out of here after a week or two, but I don't. That comes as a shock to more that just me.
My papa and I have had a rocky relationship. That tends to happen when your collective world implodes and both of you fall apart, and in falling apart, fall apart. Apart, into pieces, and apart, away from each other. I've only just got him back, and I don't want to leave that. It's embarrassing how much I've missed him, how much I've missed having a parent. I don't want to move away somewhere inaccessible again so soon. I want to hang out with him, have dinner with him a few times a week, just see him.
And my cousin. I love my cousin, K, so much, and I have missed her so much. Even after not having seen her regularly for what has to be something like 8 years, she and I have fallen into a strange routine of hanging out and talking shop (she's a writer, too) and watching dumb/awesome/silly movies and TV shows. I've missed my family, how we all have strange things in common. Maybe it's genetics, maybe it's just learned behaviour. I don't know if it matters.
There are so many others who I've missed, people I ran away from years ago because I just didn't know how to process their love, because it wasn't the love I needed, the love I'd lost. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the effort, I just didn't know what to do with it. So I ran west, as far west as I could go without hopping on a boat.
Running away never solves anything. It makes it easier to let go though. What no one tells you is how it feels to come home again, once you've spent enough time away. It's not as hard as I imagined. I don't hate it here. I don't love it here, either, but I don't hate it. It doesn't hurt like I thought it might. That's what I was running from, after all. Pain is never fun, but it's worse when it's everywhere, blanketing a city like permafrost. You can't get warm and fuzzy and feel safe in a place like that. So you run. You run all the way to the ocean, hoping it will be far enough. Maybe it was far enough, but eventually, you get sick of salt water and, like a little salmon, you need to head home to the rivers where you were born.
I'm back, and it feels weird. I'm going to stay a while though. I don't have the heart to leave, even if it does hurt to be back. At least the pain is bearable now, now that I've grown used to the cold.
So here I am, running for home.