Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Thoughts on Going Home

Somehow, I've managed to amass two homes (or possibly three).

We went home to Saskatchewan for the first time since moving to the UK at the end of June and stayed for two weeks.  We both wondered if it would feel strange to go "home" and see our families, friends, and old haunts again after having been in a different country for nine months.  For the first time, I really felt like an Adult Child, making the run back home.

Before moving over here, Tim and I been out of our respective familial nests for two years and had got pretty used to the weekly-ish Sunday dinner routine.  Going to my parents' involved dinner, dessert, and depending on the time of year Mad Men, Masterpiece Theatre, or Inspector Lewis.  (Also, Apollo 13, Remember the Titans, and The Bourne Identity, all of which Dad had practically memorized as they played disproportionately on TV.)  Dinners at Tim's parents' sometimes involved backyard fires.

But we had never left for an extended period of time and come back again.  Surprisingly, this did not feel at all strange, except in its non-strangeness.  We spent a week with each set of parents (happily located in the same city), visited many friends and relatives and did "Saskatoon" things.

Wandering around the University of Saskatchewan campus, which always looks its best in the summer...

 Going to the Jazz Festival

 Popping in and out of shops on Broadway

And, a first for me, canoeing down the river.  NB: I did not in fact do any canoeing.  But I was in the canoe and had a great view of the river valley.

And it was while I was doing all these home things in Saskatoon that I realized Oxford has actually become "home" too.  I would catch myself saying, "At home, the undergraduates have left but the city has been flooded with tourists" or "At home, wine is incredibly cheap and housing is shockingly expensive."  It was strange to think that my hometown of 24 years and Oxford, where my residence is necessarily more transitory, are both home.

And then there is a third home, which isn't so easy to visit.  A lovely basement suite near the university that was home for two years but which we can't revisit, well, because different people live there now and a break and enter would probably have to be involved.  That home will always be special because it was the first one Tim and I shared together.  It was full of our furniture, our books; we were allowed to put pictures up on the walls.  When we first moved into our little university housing flat in Oxford, it had felt rather temporary and not quite ours.  I had forgotten that feeling until we got back from our trip home to Saskatchewan.  This flat will never feel as much like home as our last place.  Sadly, the best we can do to revisit that good old basement suite is watch the video we took before we moved and spy on the yard while driving slowly down the back alleyway (sadly, I don't think the garden's been kept up this year, though I did see that our chives were thriving!)

I discovered in the last days of our trip that two weeks wasn't quite enough and for one evening in particular, really felt quite sad to be going home to Oxford, especially since we don't have plans to go back home to Canada again for another year or so.  But now we're back and slowly getting over our post-travel jet lag (and accompanying flus), I'm happy to get back to work and to make the most of what Oxford and the UK have to offer.

So, two (or three) homes.  I'm sure we will rack up quite a few more before all of this is over, what with the academic life and all that.

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