Walking home

So today I visited with my oldest friend. She and I have known each other since we were about three years old. Having lived on the same street for over twenty five years, it’s easy to keep in touch. Sure, we’ve both now moved away from the area – but so long as our parents remain here, our roots stay connected.

Anyhow, she and I had a nice outing which involved Starbucks –pumpkin spiced latte, hello! – followed by some Walmart browsing (flash back to age ten and us walking to the Hazeldean Mall for a first sans-parent shopping spree. We went to Zellers and tried on some mini-skirts, followed by the dollar bin where I bought cheap florescent red lipstick), and after Walmart she dropped me off at her house (instead of mine) so I could take my well-loved, fondly remembered ‘walk down the street’.

Walk down the street: How many times have I strolled home along this road? Many. Countless. Each time with my head in the clouds and some stupid grin on my face. Who knows why it makes me so happy. Maybe because of the houses.

Here is the two story red brick; that women in the window had breast cancer but it’s not like I’m going to ring her doorbell. Further along is the home of my first crush, another two story; I used to bike by his house and hope that he’d be watching. And that home with the tree fort  just by the path, they had a dog who kept getting loose. Over there with the fancy garden and dark windows, the dad here once gave me a music box and I still have it today (unfortunately, the mechanism broke). Next is the place with those little blond girls, and beside it the house of our neighbours, who always have a wine opener when we need one. And there is my house, single story – the place where so much has happened. It’s like being on a game show of ‘this is your life’ except it’s not only my life, it’s my community – these people are part of me in some weird way that almost no longer seems relevant, and yet is unforgettable. I love walking down this street. It always feels good.

Funny, eh. I look at the houses and the paintwork and the driveways and the snow soaked lawns . . . but forget home renovations, it’s the feelings that impress me –  I feel the memories.   Maybe that’s why I smile.

Sunshine sketches of a little town

Last night I savoured nostalgia the way you would a chocolate truffle that melts in your mouth. Taken from a box tied with a ribbon, made from butter thick cream and the darkest coco; it flowed over me.

I have never been so impressed with a final chapter. Stephen Leacock’s thin novel Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town stirs up memories of a home that I never had – Mariposa –  but can entirely relate to, even having been raised in the suburbs instead of a small town off a dirt road along winding river.

It’s deeply satisfying to read a well written piece of work. And just as he began to talk about home, and Home, and the place that is buried in the past, I knew this was going to something about which to write. He has you see the train that everyone has forgotten, the train that carries you back to that place you grew up, the place with all those sunny memories . . . and he has you take that train and watch it transform into everything good you know about those times.

It made me think of my home – not exactly the one in Kanata 2010, but more the one in my mind, the one I visit to watch giant snowflakes drift through the air, or the maple leaves turn yellow, or the sun that streaks with redness across the field, and I grew up in the suburbs, far less sentimental than a small town where everyone knows everyone, but nostalgia is a strong cocktail, I figure, no matter where you grew up.

Anyhow, having slowly plucked my way through the pages of this book and laughed along with the ridiculousness of the narrator and characters, it was a disarming to read Leacock sober up and take us on this sad journey into a place to which we can’t actually return.

I long for Christmas because it’s what I knew back when things were far, far easier. And I miss Canada because not only is it an excellent country, but it is Home, no matter where else I live – no matter where else I may go – it will always be Home. And funnily enough, I know that those feelings are placed back in time. This is now, this is my life now and it is a good one (a very good one).  Ten years into the future I’ll probably long for the time Zsolt and I lived in a one bedroom apartment along a busy street filled with students, and we’d walk to the green grocers to buy our vegetables.

Nostalgia is a funny thing. Being emotional lately I think it catches me more often, and yesterday’s final chapter (L’Envoi. The Train to Mariposa) caught me right up, wrapped me right up, and sent me to bed with dreams full of Young ponds, and popsicle outings, and sitting under my maple.

Nostalgia is a nice place to visit, though I certainly couldn’t live there. That would be too hard.  Instead I’ll go and give Zsolt a kiss on the cheek, make a cup of tea, and look out the window for something interesting. I love my life now: my independence, my husband, my friends, my family, my writing, my adventures – all despite this breast cancer blip. But it was nice to ride Leacock’s train, if only for the night. He is a talented writer, which is always a pleasure.