Feeling Ahead

This weekend is our last one in the USofA this season. After three+ months, we are going home. But here’s the thing: After three months or so, year after year, I am already *at* home.

At home with differences in English spelling: color, not colour; center, not centre. At home with differences in English usage: soda, not pop; sack, not bag; napkin, not serviette. At home with the occasional cunning required to hunt down tasty bread, as well as with the everyday access to properly fried foods. At home with wonderful service in restaurants and stores, and with friendly interactions with strangers. At home with seeing mystery plants in passing on the highway: What *is* that thing that from a distance looks like a lilac, but is not?

I am at home with feeling at home in a place that is not my home.

Decades ago, someone told me that the challenge of thinking was to hold opposing ideas in a creative tension: in effect, to sit with opposing ideas without trying to argue one away, to see what might come of that. I would now add: “and to sit with opposing feelings without trying to suppress one, to see what might come of that.”

And so this weekend–Easter weekend, by chance–I look at the week ahead and feel both regret and anticipation. I am at home, and I am going home.


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10 Responses to Feeling Ahead

  1. Nicely said, Isabel. From having spent half my growing-up years, the first four years of my marriage, and other significant chunks of times in the US, not to overlook our children and grandchildren and the other relatives and friends who live there, I have similar feelings about the US. I like your quotes from Willimon and Washburne, as they speak specifically to the social divisions in the US at present that are so worrisome. Congratulations on timing your return to Canada during the week that spring weather arrives. I can see only one large patch of snow left, in the trough of road near the top of the hill behind the house. It has the shape of an enormous, ghostly alligator that will shrink away over night, only to haunt our dreams. Safe travels and happy landings!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – So sorry for evoking the snowy alligator, but at least it’s on its inevitable way out. I find at-home-ness in many parts of the USA, for sure, and also in some parts of Scotland and Ireland, although less strongly (due, I think, to having spent so much less time there). Maybe we can all be at home pretty much any/everywhere if we just give it a chance.

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Someone (even Google doesn’t seem to know who) said that truth is found only in paradox. Someone else (not Isaac Newton) declared that for every truth there is an equal and opposite truth. Every metaphor consists of both a truth and an untruth. Didn’t your mother say something about holding two opposites in your mind at once? So yes, you can be at home, and not be at home.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – I don’t *think* that Mom was the source of that idea for me, but she would have bought into it, I’m pretty sure. 🙂

  3. barbara carlson says:

    Home(s). Moveable feasts — but in Ottawa it won’t be SO hard to find decent bread.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – 🙂 I think that’s right. But very hard to find “tamed” pickled jalapeno slices and dilled okra.

  4. Ken from Kenora says:

    After being away ourselves for four and a half months I’ve been asked ‘how was your holiday?’, prompting a quizzical look, and relating how we don’t think of it as a holiday. It’s merely a change of address for a while. And a few inward smiles when you hear your fellow Canadians and their overuse of ‘eh’ rather than the local ‘huh’.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Ken – 🙂 I have had that same interaction. People ask what we do, and I say, we do what we always do, but without the snow.

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