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In: Vancouver, Canada

Feels most at home: in a room in his home

I feel most at home here in a room that faces a sports field, on a park. Today there is sunshine on the grass, a clear and optimistic light. On other days it can be cloudy or rainy. It doesn’t matter to me a lot. 


Next to me is a wall of books. Most of them have been there for a long time, including classics from past centuries. But there are always some that I’ve acquired recently, that are fresher and that I’m more likely to go to  today. They aren’t really in any order. 


The park is usually peaceful, especially now on an early Sunday morning. Sometimes there will be teams showing up to play soccer or rugby or softball, and for a couple of hours there is action, energy, even excitement. After they’ve gone the space is owned again by a few people throwing a disc, or kicking a ball, or by people walking around in ones or twos. On some days we get bedraggled seagulls presumably taking refuge from a windy beach a couple of miles away. Just this year we had Canada geese arriving at the end of an evening, chatting to each other for a while and then going off somewhere else more interesting. 


I walk every day for twenty minutes, noticing the gardens, hearing the birds, and trying to think of nothing. The park is the same every day but equally there are small changes in light, in temperature, in vegetation. People coming in the opposite direction nod, smile, wave  or say hi. If someone doesn’t, it’s unusual. At the height of Covid, we all got into the habit of giving people more space, stepping off the path to make room, and people still do that. 


We’ve lived in this house for a long time, close to forty years. Around us? A few empty nest couples like us; families with older teenagers; and one house that is empty, home to no one, for sale for a long time. Out of ten houses on the block, there is usually one that is empty. The population has dropped by a few per cent, and this is a manifestation of that. 


During Covid so many people have improved their gardens, which means beauty and color and also a lot of vans belonging to landscapers and gardeners.


Around the corner is a playground where children play, where daily a group of nannies meet with their charges, chatting to each other. At other times there are families there, and in the summer people come to lie in the sun. The park is quieter than it used to be because the population is older, but somehow families move in despite the prices. 


There are two grocery stores I can walk to, plus cafes, drugstore, and the elementary school where our kids went. I’ve spent many days living totally within a few miles of this place. 


My favourite chair is big, comfortable, reclining, though I don’t recline very often. It was made by a company called Simply Amish. They sell everything with a lifetime guarantee. If the chair breaks before I die, I can get another one or it will be repaired. 


This place where I feel most at home is a place of privilege. A few miles away is the downtown east side, where people who are largely  indigenous live in mainly distressing conditions. We have  tree cover that mitigates the increasing heat in the summer.  In the height of Covid the park never felt crowded. I am peaceful here. 


As I get older I appreciate that more, even though I know it’s something of an illusion as our planet suffers, as politics gets more polarized, and we lose connection with each other. But physically, it is peaceful and I like that. 


I get my optimism from younger people - their energy, their visions, their understanding of others. But I find my home in a quiet space that those younger people clearly  don’t really aspire to, my family included. 


A paradox….

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