Here’s a funny story.
Just over a year ago, I was living in a big, beautiful house in a clean, safe neighborhood in the thriving suburbs of Vancouver, with my husband and two children. I drove a shiny new Jeep, I dressed in business suits and I spent my days getting paid to snoop around other people’s houses (I was a realtor). It was an enriched and fulfilled life and I had it made.
I hated it.
I longed for the day I could come back to the UK; to be with my parents and sisters; to once again live amongst the humour of the British people; to walk the streets of my beloved, vibrant hometown, Brighton; to feel that sense of belonging and acceptance. And so, one day, after 12 years of living in Canada, I bought myself a one way ticket to England. I sold my beautiful house, packed up, sold or gave away everything I owned, and I went home.
It’s not really a funny story; it’s a sad, pathetic one.
You see, I made a mistake. And now, a year later, I am living with a dark cloud hanging over me and a deep sense of regret that I cannot shake.
Now, I am living alone (the husband and kids quickly went back to Canada); in a rented house (don’t even ask) and I drive my sister’s dog’s car. Yes, that’s right; my sister’s dog has its own car.
It’s a long story (one that I will address in my book, which I have been writing for nine years, so don’t hold your breath) but this is the bottom line – and it’s a terrible cliché but it’s true: you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone. I have some other clichés too but I will refrain from using them, for now.
I spent The Canada Years bemoaning my life, always complaining, always slightly pissed off with the world, thinking – oh no, here’s another one – that the grass was always greener…. But now I have a taste of a different kind of life – the one I thought I wanted – and I realise – yep, you guessed it – the grass is actually kind of a rancid brown.
For now, I have to be here, even though my instinct is to jump on the next plane to Vancouver. But it’s hard; my life feels like it belongs to someone else. Naturally I miss my husband (we are still happily married, if 5000 miles apart) and my kids, and my house, cat and friends. But, shockingly (for me), it turns out I also really miss Canada. I miss its dramatic beauty, its wide open spaces, its cleanliness, and its people. Who knew?
All this makes me wonder if choosing to be an immigrant is in fact choosing, and accepting, a life-long struggle with the concept of “home”.
After all, home is where the heart is, and all that.
Article by Juliet Sullivan