I’ve been reading the blog Buggering Crap Monkies (which I started following mostly because of the name) and she did a few posts on her life in five places, so I started thinking about that. What five places have defined my life?
1) Rather than talk about my childhood home, I have to just say Old Ottawa South – that is, the part of Ottawa between the Bank St. Bridge and the Rideau River. I lived in three different houses in Old Ottawa South, My parents bought the house on Aylmer Ave, where my Dad still lives, before I was born. They moved there because it was close to Carleton University. When my parents separated Mom moved us literally around the corner, about a minute walk from the old house, onto Seneca St. – that was the house that I loved. We lived there until I was 12 and then we moved a bit further away – maybe a 7 minute walk to the Aylmer house.
I grew up riding my bike around that neighbourhood. My friends lived there. We had Brewer Pool, Brewer Arena and Brewer Park a short walk away, I went to Hopewell PS from junior kindergarten to Grade 8. I went to pre-school at Southminster United, at Bank and Aylmer, and the librarians at the south branch (now Sunnyside Branch) knew me on sight.
Joe and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood one day and laughed at me because I had memories connected to almost everything we passed. But the fact is that I do. I barely left that neighbourhood until I started high school, except for weekly trips to the Glebe. I still don’t know my way around downtown very well. We had everything we needed, and I had visions of my kids growing up there too, but I think it’s out of our price range at the moment.
2) Belleville and Loyalist College
When I finally moved away from home I went to school in Belleville, a town of about 40,000 people two and a half hours away. I was scared to leave home, I didn’t know if I could live alone and get myself to school and handle it all. But I loved it. Belleville was a good place to live, it was big enough for me to have access to pretty much everything I needed and I love my classes and classmates. I had a wonderful two years in Belleville and got some great opportunities and memories out of my time at Loyalist.
3) Carleton University
Though Carleton is about five minutes away from Old Ottawa South, I have to consider it a whole separate experience. Though I grew up spending rather more time at the university than most kids probably do (my Dad would take us to visit his classes, I went to basketball and football games with him) and I did a high school co-op in athletics there, Carleton wasn’t really MY place until I decided to go back to school for my degree when I was 23. I decided to take Political Science because it seemed to have to most courses with descriptions that interested me.
Once I started my degree and started really finding my own way around, I got a job at the student paper. Fair to say that job changed my life forever. The Editor in Chief is now my husband and the father of my child, I still consider most of the staff I worked with my good friends, and I grew more confidence as I worked and fit in there.
I have lived in two places far away from my home, St. Paul, Alberta and Fort Frances, Ontario. Both of these places were much, much smaller than anywhere else I’ve lived, and I found myself increasingly depressed while living in both places. These were the towns in which I worked as a reporter. In Fort Frances I was specifically a sports reporter, which is what I thought I wanted. Both of these places made me reconsider everything I thought I knew about myself.
When Joe and I went too see his family in Dryden we drove down to visit Fort Frances with the kid. Joe lived there with his family until he was about nine. It’s funny how it connects us that way.
5) Parliament Hill
My mother and my grandparents used to take us to visit Parliament Hill when I was a kid. I liked the lookout behind the Peace Tower and the old bell that fell off the original buildings during a fire. I love visiting the Hill on Canada Day and being with thousands of people who love this country like I do.
When I was in third year university an email came through from the Poli Sci department, an MP’s office was looking for a volunteer. I immediately expressed my interest and felt so lucky to be able to work in one of those grand old (freezing) offices.
Little did I know I would be working for Parliament full time a little over a year later.
I have a great deal of respect for our parliament and our systems and I feel a little bit in awe whenever I go up to Centre Block. Parliament had always been a special place in my life, and now even more so.