Sitting outside a coffee shop in downtown of the city I once called home. Sipping slowly on hot tea during the cold, yet sunny, late March afternoon. An unexpected waiting period between a conference that brought me to this moment, but I don’t mind one bit – it was a good moment to take in my surroundings that I’ve missed so much. Looking around at the hustle and bustle of cars/buses driving by, the few people walking on the streets wearing their winter toques and oversized coats, while others in trench coats being confused by the ever-changing temperature from day-to-day, and the many local shops of antiques, electronics, and restaurants aligned down the street.
I breathe in. A sublte and distinct smell/taste of Lakeshore near by touches my senses and brings with it endless memories of my early adolescence. All the times I used to come down here to reflect on life, to volunteer at summer fests, to celebrate birthdays and other occasions, to come specifically for Burrito Boyz and have a walk by the lake, to drive by after classes just to take 5 minutes out of the day and enjoy the mix of nature and city life…
I breathe out. A foggy breath escapes from my mouth, making it visible in the cold. I’ve spent 15 years in this city, growing up with this city. I went to high school and university for my undergrad here. I took my first transit here, learned how to drive my first car, and even learned to ride a bike for the first time. I was involved in local events, volunteering with local non-profits, and taking part in the city’s development. How is this not home anymore…?
Breathe in. Breathe out. Sip tea.
Then a thought hit me – it wasn’t actually about the city in itself, that’s not what made it home. What made it home was the fact that I lived there: I lived in it, with it, and around it. I grew physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in this place so much, simultaneously as the city developed and grew too. It wasn’t so much about the place that made it unique and comfortable; it was about me leaving my mark here for 15 years.
What I put out to make it my home, I was now feeling it come around – the city giving it back to me. It was home because it was a reflection of who I am. I found myself being reflected back in the community I was once a part of. I found myself on the streets again where I once walked regularly. I found myself in the nature, in the animals, in the lake where I spent random days collecting my thoughts and writing in my journal. I found myself in the place I once called home because I had made it my home. I guess they’re right about the famous saying:
“Home is where the heart is.”
My heart was always present here, and still is. But my heart is always with me as well where ever I go, and perhaps it’s time to make a new home now.
Dedicated to the city of Mississauga, ON. Inspired by a recent visit to Port Credit, Lakeshore in Mississauga.