"There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered." ‑Nelson Mandela
By Samantha Emann
Special to the Times-Herald
Sitting here on the couch on vacation surrounded by the familiar, frozen landscape that is Ontario, I find myself in a very sappy, nostalgic mood.
I started planning parties, lunch dates and scheduling visits for this trip, sometimes months in advance. My significant other quietly indulged me knowing that this is how I handle my impatience and since we are both from Toronto I think he was secretly thankful for my compulsive planning. We spent months waiting and saving up and finally we were celebrating Christmas and the new year with our family and friends. It would take more than an ice storm to dampen my excitement.
Although I have always loved the holiday season, I realized I was looking forward to this year in a way I never had before. I had not lived with either of my parents for a number of years but they were also within a couple hours travelling distance if I ever wanted to go see them. Of course, this year that was not possible since I took up residence two provinces away and I found all I wanted to do was see them. I also did not expect Ontario to be colder than Moose Jaw but the recent ice storm burst that bubble.
The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” was always too sentimental and cliché for my taste but this year I found the truth in the cliché. A year without seeing loved ones does not seem so bad until you`re hugging them until they have to pry you off.
After Christmas with my dad’s side of the family, which included delicious food, Jello shots and the annual Christmas poker game, it was off to spend time around horses. I could not go home and not spend some time in a barn. I have been involved with horses and the racing industry since I was a kid so it felt good to come into the house smelling like hay and horse again. Everyone has that one smell, food or sight that makes them feel at home and for me that is the smell of a barn.
New Year`s Eve was the time for the friends and the beers. What I love about my friends that I grew up with since high school, and even elementary school, is that we can act and talk like no time has passed and just be our laugh-filled, troublemaking selves. I can’t put a price on that feeling although I think my head did pay the price for my nostalgia on New Year’s Day.
Some say the first year away is the hardest and I believe it. But within a few hours of being home it was like I never left and I could not have been more content. I love the adventure and new experiences that Moose Jaw has brought into my life. Being at home makes me appreciate both home but also what being away can do for your perspective. As much as home sickness has plagued me it has made me appreciate the people and sense of home that I get being here.
I am finding that being away from home also helps me carve out my own identity and get out of my comfort zone. Adventure is not an adventure unless you`re at least a little uncomfortable. I think it strengthens you and whether you have to move away or you choose to, you are going to change. For me, change has to be abrupt and usually forced on me for me to fully accept it.
Part me of wants to plant my feet, cross my arms and pout until I can stay where everything is familiar and expected. But alas the demands of life and work will give me the swift kick in the pants I need to get back to reality.
I have dubbed 2013 the Year of the Moose. Although I have not yet found a name for 2014 I know it will be a year of more change and challenges. Perhaps it will be the year I finally get a driver`s license, lose the weight I need to lose, cure my arachnophobia, or better yet discover a way to stop losing my phone. With any or all as goals, I invoke a phrase coined by someone far more awesome than myself: Challenge accepted.
You can contact Samantha Emann at email@example.com.