An update: I’m not leaving Toronto. Yet.
I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to Canada and expat life forever, but just as I was about to give up hope, to say that I’d waited long enough for opportunities to keep me here, when everything seemed to fall into place.
Begin by coming home to yourself
becoming present to yourself.
St. Augustine says we must return to self
to make of self
a stepping stone to God. –Anthony de Mello “The Return”
October has been so busy because in this process I’ve left two previous homes: my temporary home on Queen Street East and the house and city where I grew up, Austin, TX. Neither was as emotional of a transition as I expected. Still, I will take this moment to appreciate both places and what they have given me.
When my parents told me they were selling the house this summer, I freaked out a little bit. Not because I really wanted them to keep that house. I never saw myself going back to Austin long-term and since high school, I haven’t been able to create or produce much in that space. It’s like all the angst from my teenage years, all the anxiety that I have since named and accepted, clung to the city like a plaque that I couldn’t scrub away. It’s odd that in a city so many view as a sort of Mecca for artists, especially those interested in film and theatre, serves as a horrible artistic block for me. My family felt it, too; since my sister and I moved out, it’s like Austin was a weight grounding us all to one spot where we weren’t growing, changing, or moving.
Still, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go back to the house and visit, to commemorate those memories. Saying goodbye is an important step for me. I remember clearly saying goodbye to our houses in Nashville and Naperville, even our first family home in Columbia, Tennessee.
Just when I thought the house was sold and there was no chance to go back, a conference I had applied to before the move accepted my paper. Suddenly I had an opportunity to go back and have my goodbye.
It wasn’t like I planned. I didn’t get to help pack up the house or go to every important place and spend a moment of silence there. Yes, I did cry as the plane touched down at the Austin airport at the beginning of the week and when I walked down the gate to the plane that would take me back to Toronto at the end of the week. The Austin Bergstrom International airport smells like the city, it smells like home. We drove past the house once, just to prove that it hadn’t changed too much. But that was it.
It felt familiar. Driving down Bee Cave Road, meeting friends for a movie at the Hill Country Galleria, shopping with my mom at the Barton Creek Square mall–everything was just as it was when I was in high school and on breaks from Rice. But it also felt right that this would be the last time these things would happen for us in Austin. Every conversation revolved around future plans and each time my mom explained their move or I explained my life in far away, practically unimaginable Canada (to Texans who thought I would die up here in the cold), I received so much joy and encouragement.
I will miss the Tex Mex, the Texas stubbornness, the night sky unfolding in front of me as I drive up and down the hills of Bee Caves Road. I don’t know if I’ll find my way back to that road again, but for now, I’m more than okay away with the Lone Star State in my rearview mirror.