On Home and Goodbyes
I'm no stranger to goodbyes.
I moved for the first time when I was 3, from Regina to Saskatoon. I don't remember it, but I do remember the long list of goodbyes that concluded every Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving when we would return home to visit extended family for the holidays.
It took much less than 15 years for Saskatoon to become my home, but that's when I first said goodbye to it.
It was just after high school graduation and I was starting my job as a counsellor at Camp Kinasao, 200km North of Saskatoon. Though it doesn't seem like much now, at the time that distance was great (great as in really big, not really awesome). My 10 week contract there came and went and my fellow staff members who became like family were all off to pursue school or work in various cities.
I went back to Saskatoon long enough to say goodbye again to my high school friends and join my parents on their move East, to Southern Ontario. I spent 3 weeks in their new home there before hopping on a plane to Madrid, Spain where I would be the nanny of three young Spanish children. I didn't know the language, let alone a single person on the continent, but Madrid quickly found a big place in my heart.
9 months and countless goodbyes later I was back on a flight to Toronto. I touched down for less than 24 hours to unpack and repack my suitcase and headed back to camp in Saskatchewan for a summer of old friends, new family, and even more goodbyes.
Returning to the GTA, I graced my parents with my presence for a few days and found myself back in Spain before I could say "hasta luego" in a madrileño accent. 3 months later when it was time to say adios for good it was hard to believe how much this once foreign country had become home to me. I had found a great community in Madrid and going back to my parents house and an unknown future was far less exciting. Living in Europe gave me opportunities to travel and photograph like never before and I was surely going to miss it.
Christmas was spent with family in Regina while I attempted to reacclimate to winter on the prairies before moving back to my parents'. I worked at a portrait studio and figured out what I was going to do about that whole education thing 20 year-olds are supposed to do. As soon as my enrolment in the Photography Program at Algonquin College in Ottawa was established I headed back West for a third summer at Kinasao.
As expected, August ended with goodbye, goodbye, goodbye and all of a sudden I was in another new city where I knew nobody. Although this time it was the capital of Canada rather than Spain. The year went fast and I'm not going to lie, the goodbyes that followed were easier than ones previous. Maybe I had gotten used to it, or maybe I had kept myself from making real roots, knowing that their upheaval would be inevitable. Either way, I slipped away from Ottawa that spring with great adventure ahead and the knowledge that I would be back.
First stop? Orange County, California. Though my experiences all prove it so, it's hard to believe what great friendships can be built in such little time. I was in OC for a 3 week work placement with Closer To Love Photography, but they took me in like family and it felt more like a vacation that unfortunately had to come to an end.
I spent the remainder of that summer where I've come to accept as my favourite place on earth (despite having only been to a sliver of the places that exist on earth). Like clockwork, summer number 4 at camp came and went and goodbyes were along for the ride.
I went into my second year of school a little differently than my first. My goal, or prayer rather, was to leave behind my inhibitions and actually plant some roots in Ottawa. I wanted that same sense of community that I had while I was living in Madrid, and once I put in a little effort it didn't take long to establish. Those roots grew deep, and for the first time I started to think they might actually be stronger than the ones pulling me back to Saskatchewan each June.
My Christmas break, which was spent split between Saskatoon, Toronto, and Ottawa, was a period of great internal debate. I was entering my final semester of college and needed to make a decision about where I would live following graduation. I was long tired of goodbye after goodbye and knew it was time to be settled somewhere. Though I couldn't decide where that somewhere should be. I had had so many homes in the past 4 years, I wasn't sure which was actually my home, and more importantly, where I wanted to call home.
My answer came with a job offer as a year round staff member at Camp Kinasao. The one place which despite all the goodbyes I returned to year after year. It had been one of the only constants in my life while I was constantly on the move. There was no question in my mind that God was calling me back there. Home there. I didn't realize it at the time, but in the midst of all of my wandering, if ever asked where home was, my heart always went straight back to camp.
I'm currently in Ottawa finishing my diploma and preparing for what's to come. I'm fearful of the goodbyes because I know they will hurt, but I've come to learn that the more life I want to experience the more goodbyes I have to say. The more people I want to love, the more people I have to say goodbye to. I'm trying my best to live in the moment; to be present and invested where I am. The future will come and I'll be home soon. There will always be a time for goodbyes, but right now, the least I can do is say hello.