I grew up in Ottawa. I was born here and I didn’t leave until I was 20. I’ve moved away five times and it never stuck. The closest I came to home outside of Ottawa was when I went to college in Belleville.
When I was a kid I had big dreams of traveling around the world, having adventures in foreign lands, but a part of me always wanted to own a house in Old Ottawa South that I could go back to. I lived in that neighbourhood through my entire childhood, in three difference houses, each only a few blocks from the next. My father still lives in our first house, walking distance from my preschool, my elementary school, the park I played in, the pool I swam in, the rink I skated at, the dead end where I used to ride my bike, the hill I used to sled down…
Joe and I went for a walk through the neighbourhood shortly after we started dating and he was both fascinated and amused by the fact that we were never far away from some location that had a memory for me. When he was growing up, he lived in three difference provinces. I went to the same school with the same people for 10 years.
We’ve discussed in the past how to find a happy medium for our daughter. Joe had some great experiences seeing the country and having different experiences with different people. I built a lot of great memories in a great community.
Right now we’re living in Ottawa and we can have days like today – going to visit the animals at the Experimental Farm just like I did when I was a kid. We took her to the garden and got pictures of her with the flowers, just like the pictures in my baby book.
Last winter we took her out on the canal, we’ve visited Almonte, we’ve explored Parliament Hill and the Byward Market, before she was a month old she had been to the Chinese restaurant I grew up eating at and the mall I’ve always shopped at. I know these experiences are more for me than for her, things that I now share with my mother rather than things the baby girl shares with me, but I like that I can have these experiences.
But we can’t live in Old Ottawa South (no way I’m paying that much for a house), and she won’t go to the same schools that I went to, and she won’t swim and skate and play where I did, and that’s for the best. I don’t want her to have the same life that I did and I don’t want her to feel any pressure in that direction, but I do want her to grow up in a neighbourhood. I want her to be able to walk to school and play nearby and be able to ride her bike around and have adventures.
I grew up in a neighbourhood with sidewalks. Right now I can’t say the same for my daughter. We live in a part of the city that was a suburb when it was built and apparently city planners decided that everyone would be driving everywhere so you can be walking along and have the sidewalk just stop in front of you. I hate it.
There are a lot of things I’m growing to hate about this city. The council, the public transit (keep raising prices and reducing services, see how that goes), the weather… It’s getting harder and harder to reconcile all the things that are difficult to deal with and the good things.
We have friends here, we both have good jobs, I know the city well (which is a huge plus for someone who is terrible with directions), and I have memories, but at some point I’d like to experiment with the idea that while Ottawa always seemed like home when that’s where my family was, now I get to move my family with me wherever I go.