Two smiling faces greeted us next to baggage claim, and we soon found ourselves pulled into hugs, talking about time spent apart, how the days between when we'd seen each other last and then had been. It was late, and the day of travelling had been long and fraught with delays, miscommunications, and turbulence, but it felt good to be back home. Back in Victoria.
No, you didn't read that wrong. I said Victoria, and I meant Victoria. Victoria is where home is.
Our friends, Pete and Kim, picked us up from the airport very late at night when Brad and I arrived home from our trip to Halifax for the holidays. It was so wonderful to see friendly faces after an absolutely bananas day of travelling, and comforting to be back in our city. The four of us talked of our Christmas holidays as they drove us to our home, and while some of the tales were bittersweet (my last Christmas in the house that I grew up in, Brad's grandparents not doing so fantastically health wise) it felt so good to be home.
Since I moved to Victoria two years ago, I've still thought of Halifax as home. That's where I was born and raised, that's where the majority of my family and a lot of my friends are, that's where I had a life for twenty-eight years. But after this particular trip to Halifax, I realized that it's not really my home anymore. Yes, it's still a wonderful place, yes, it's I was born and grew up, made a lot of memories with a lot of people that I care about, but it's not home.
While I was in Halifax, I missed Victoria a lot. I missed my friends here, I missed my home and bed, I missed the places that I go, I missed my life. Two weeks is a long time to basically put your life on hold. And while we were happy to do it, and happy to see friends and family and spend the holidays with them, something was nagging on me the entire time.
Brad and I didn't have a whole lot of time to ourselves. Most of our time was spent with family and a few outings with friends. And though we didn't run ourselves stupid like we did last year, we managed only one day where we went into Halifax proper to check out some of our old stomping grounds. During that time, I realized that I didn't really miss Halifax all that much. There were a lot of things about being there that bothered me - the state of the downtown core, the transit, the fact that so many of my friends are struggling to find work, or struggling in the work that they currently do. Quite frankly, being in Halifax for the holidays broke my heart a little. Had it always been like this and I'd just never realized? Had I become one of those people who went away and came back only to scoff at how different it all is? I think it's far to say, it's probably a bit of both. I never wanted to be one of those people who left and changed their attitude on the place that they grew up, but there's a reason that it happens. It would be foolish to assume that living somewhere else for a little bit wouldn't change someone's perspective. It's not necessarily a bad thing, it just shifts the way you think about your hometown - you look at it through different eyes. Sometimes you need to.
That's not to say that we didn't have fun the two weeks that we were in Halifax. My goodness, we had a blast! We spent a lot of time with our families, something that we didn't do much of last year because we were running around trying to see everyone. We took a more relaxed approach this year, and it paid off. We had nights out with some of our best friends, we went to a hockey game, we got to watch the nephew open gifts only to be more enthralled with the tissue paper, got to see some snow, and relaxed a lot. It was a wonderful holiday, and everything that I could've wanted.
Halifax had served its purpose in my life. And while I'll never say never, I don't see myself living there again anytime soon. I used to entertain the idea of it, but now I really can't see it happening. Aside from friends and family, there's not much there for me anymore. And there will soon be even less, with my parents and sister moving to PEI this coming summer.
I've felt ever since I moved to Victoria, that I fit in better here. Though I definitely feel like an East Coast girl most of the time (especially when West Coasters make fun of how I pronounce "bar"), I feel like right now in my life, Victoria is where I belong. Any place ends up being what you make of it, and almost despite myself, I've made Victoria home these past two years.
I miss the people, the music, and the potato skins, but I don't necessarily miss Halifax. I didn't cry at the airport when saying goodbye to my parents as we got in line for security. Though I chalk most of this up to the fact that I was far too stressed to be sad (the airport was an absolutely gong show that morning and we spent an hour in a line to confirm our booking after it had been changed that morning). I haven't had a massive bout of homesickness like I did this time last year, where I fell into a depressive episode and struggled to feel like myself again. I don't suspect that I will this year. The novelty of Halifax has worn off for me. And though I still miss my family and friends deeply, I am so excited for the life that I have in my new home.
I always worried that anywhere I lived other than Halifax would never quite feel right, or feel like home. But now I realize that any place is what you make of it, and I've made Victoria my home, so that's how it feels. It feels right here. It feels like home.
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