When I think of the word “home”, I still visualize Montreal. Well, sometimes I do. I certainly did right after having a late typical Canadian breakfast with two of my high school friends last week. God bless maple syrup. No matter where I’ve been, my heart ultimately belongs to this Canadian city.
Nevertheless, at times, it doesn’t. The typical conundrum of those who live far from their hometown for long periods of time. When I travel for even a few days, I tend to miss Dubai and my cozy apartment overlooking the water, and especially my little monster Jiggy. While I was in Canada the past two weeks, Dubai felt so very far away, and my heart was aching to go back to my daily routine and my friends there.
It’s a weird feeling when you leave the place you grew up in and live abroad, and then “abroad” suddenly turns into your new home. I recently read an article on Elite Daily that was circulating on Facebook titled “What it’s like when your hometown no longer feels like it’s home”. It immediately struck a cord with me because that’s how I really felt and viewed things at that moment. But now that I’ve just returned from Montreal, I must say there are a few things I look at differently.
What being back home feels like to me:
I’m utterly grateful for my upbringing in this wonderful city and for my fantastic education. The Canadian education system is not only practically free (after you take into account half your salary going to taxes) but it’s of excellent quality. Not only does it rank in the world’s top 10 education systems, but Canada has one of the world’s highest college graduation rates. And having McGill University on my resume certainly didn’t hurt all these years when looking for jobs.
Although I may not have many things in common with most of my childhood friends, there are a handful of them that I reconnect with the instant I see them. We pick up right where we left off years ago. And that’s how it felt when I met my friends for that delicious breakfast.
I’m thankful for my worldly experience. I do genuinely feel that I would have been limited in my hometown. Not only have I had the chance to live in various cities, and I’m not saying the experience was always pleasant or easy, but I also got to meet people from around the world and discover various cultures.
I realize how wonderful it would have been to grow up with security and family all around. It’s tough when you wake up in the middle of the night, sick as a dog, and there’s no one there to hold your hair back while you throw up. Sometimes I cry for my mom, but I end up calling a friend instead to come and help me. It does make you feel like a burden to these incredibly sweet friends you have, but whom you’ve only known for a couple of years.
I’m not as impressed with the hot spots back home and the social scene. They actually start to seem meaningless at one point. Who cares if you’ve hit the new hip joint and who you run into? I’ve seen it all, and it all looks the same to me, whichever city you may be in.
I’ve turned into a snob. Yes, I’ll gladly admit it. I criticize things a lot more. Living in various countries makes you differentiate between many systems, whether educational, medical etc. I’m actually disappointed with certain standards of living. I was outraged that my father had to get out of the car to pump his own gas into the car. Has anyone ever heard of job creation?
I definitely feel like I’m on vacation. I know my stay is temporary. I have fun while in Montreal, but real life is back in Dubai.
Would I ever move back? Maybe. I’ll always have a special place for Montreal in my heart. Home is where the heart is, right? And my heart lies with my parents and a couple of childhood friends. And they’re in Montreal. For now.
“You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.”
– Maya Angelou