This feels strange. Surreal. There’s an innate familiarity that’s unshakable, but with an indefinable distance. I’m home, but my core understanding of what home means has changed, so my parameters are having trouble adjusting. If home means Toronto, then what is Auckland? It’s as if my brain at some root level can’t understand the concept beyond simple binaries. Clearly I should’ve spent more time learning about quantum physics.
The best explanation of how it feels to be home is as if I’m in a simulation. I know what the simulation of Auckland is like, but every time I see something new it feels like a glitch. That’s supposed to be a hair salon, not an antiques shop, my brain will say. How it’s that oblivious to the passing of time, yet survived travel through time zones without unraveling, is a question for the ages. I woke up early and took a jog through my childhood neighbourhood. A stroll down memory lane at an accelerated pace. So much was familiar, a feeling that seemed almost physical. Then I’d jog past a park that no longer had the same playground and I’d feel deeply unsettled. Strange, but also comforting in a number of ways.
As I was jogging, I thought to myself about my relationship with Auckland. While I was chomping at the bit to leave, it’s undeniable that I have so much affection for the city in which I was raised. The level of attachment I have to random buildings or inanimate structures is bizarre. Jogging under the bridge to the lookout point I felt stirrings of something emotional deep inside. Pangs that I’d never felt. I wasn’t sure what to make of them.
I thought about that sensation more as I jogged and realised something. This reaction had a direct correlation to my own actions. I decided at some stage, knowing that I’d be away from home for some large period of time, to quash stirrings of homesickness or affection for Aotearoa. I knew I wouldn’t be back for many a day, so how would sadness over distance serve me? They were pointless emotions, so I pushed them down far beyond my acknowledgement. As I ran I let these feelings resurface, wash over me. Why be stoic? Why not soak in all I could while I could?
I thought back to the simulation notion, the glitches of unfamiliarity. I thought about how I imagined these surroundings as fulfilling a certain purpose, how they were no longer that one thing I knew them as. I thought more and realised that drawing a dichotomy between what was and what they’ve become is ridiculous. There’s far more nuance and a multitude of layers I never considered. The neighbourhood I grew up was not just a physical place, it was a bastion of memories spread across time. The run down to Fisherman’s Wharf was not merely the place where I ran before heading up to the bridge. I remembered fishing there, walks I’d taken with friends and conversations we’d had there. The Masonic Temple wasn’t just the place I went to vote once, it was also where I found $70 on the sidewalk. I jogged past old friends’ houses, up hills that used to be too steep for me to walk, let alone run. I saw my childhood house, remembered the basketball hoop in the driveway, still sans net. I cast my mind back to the lilac next to the front porch. The bees that used to swarm around.
It’s odd having a sense of comfort and wellbeing just existing in a certain space. It’s strange to be behind the wheel of a vehicle once more, but even stranger how easy it was to drive once more. It’s peculiar feeling reassured sitting on the toilet at my parents’ place, knowing how much has remained the same. I keep throwing these ambiguous modifiers in front of everything. “It’s odd, strange, peculiar”, but that doesn’t quite cover it. You know what? It’s good. Simple, but true.
It’s good to be home.