In my cellphone, my parents’ number is still stored as “home” even though it’s been years since I lived there.
Practically speaking, this is because my actual home does not have a landline, so I never bothered to change it. But more than that, it’s because home is, still, exactly how I think of the place my parents live.
It’s the place I lived until I moved away for school; and the place I moved back to on a few occasions – first at 22 when school was done and I was living off the last remaining pennies of my student loan, and briefly again at 23 after escaping the biting cold of northern Alberta for a job here at the Peace Arch News seven years ago.
That house, which my parents built in Langley in 1985 and have lived in ever since, has always been a safety net of sorts, a familiar place with familiar people where, no matter what, you could find a warm bed, good (free) food and the opportunity to “just throw a few things” into somebody else’s laundry, thus avoiding having to do it yourself – a trick I’ve carried over to my new living arrangement, which I can assure you, my girlfriend adores.
It’s those things – along with the Canadian Football League wallpaper on one wall of my old bedroom that I stubbornly refused to tear down even as I grew up – that never changed, even as the rest of the house, and the people inside, changed around it.
There were countless Christmas dinners and indoor hockey games (sorry about the closet door, Mom); screaming matches and parties that raged into the night (talk to your youngest son about that one, Dad); renovations – both planned and otherwise (that foot-shaped hole in the wall was an accident, really), and second and third mortgages just so two lucky kids could afford to play hockey and go to Disneyland.
Things are about to change now, though, those memories packed carefully away in boxes along with everything else.
My parents are moving – downsizing, as parents of adult children are apt to do, into a lovely new townhouse a few minutes up the road, where they’ll have no grass to mow, no garden to weed and, finally, a little financial freedom.
After 25-plus years sacrificing for the sake of their family, they are finally doing something for themselves.
Truthfully though, I’m thrilled for them, although I don’t doubt that it will be weird for me to drive by that house one day – my house – and realize that somebody else lives there now.
I was just four years old when we moved there and don’t remember much except that during a pre-move garage sale outside the little house we were leaving in White Rock, I cried when my parents sold an old typewriter I used to play with (crafting Pulitzer-worthy stories, I’m sure).
This move is different. It’s harder in some respects – I’ve never been good with change – but easier too, because I’m old enough now to realize that old typewriters aren’t that important, and the house itself is just that – a house. A concrete foundation with old wooden beams, shingles and laminate floors.
Home? Home is somewhere else for me now. I’m hopeful it will be my parents’ new place – knowing my parents, there’s no reason to suggest it won’t feel just as welcoming as the old place – but it is also my own house, where in the basement hangs a 12-by-16-inch framed rectangle of old, slightly-yellowing CFL wallpaper, a gift to me from my parents when they finally redecorated my old room before the for-sale sign went up in the yard.
May it hang as long there as it did in my old bedroom, on the wall opposite the closet door with a hole in it.
(Again, my apologies.)
Nick Greenizan is the sports reporter at the Peace Arch News.