Saturday, October 30, 2010

What's In A Home? part two: more on the present and looking to the future

"[Lansing's] fine, but it ain't home; [Hamilton's] home, but it ain't mine no more"--Neil Diamond, paraphrased for my purposes.

In my former post, I began to talk about the need to feel at home.  This led me to talk about my move to East Lansing 7.5 years ago.  Actually, what brought me to this city was the job I have in radio.  It's been a slow climb, but I've been able to stake something of a reputation for myself here, a very meager one, but nice nonetheless. 

But I've always been hesitant to put down roots here because I always figured it'd be temporary.  Boy, was the joke on me there.  Even to older people, three-quarters of a decade really no longer constitutes "temporary."  But I didn't want to think of myself as being from the Lansing area.  I didn't change my driver's license to list East Lansing as my home city until I was coerced to do so.  I didn't want to transfer my church membership to the CRC church in East Lansing, and only did so when the home church in Hamilton said they were going to lapse my membership there since I was no longer attending their services.  Really, what I was waiting for was a full-time employment to be my anchor, that which would make it worth my while to plant myself firmly in one particular place and spur me on to start becoming a more contributing member of the community.

Boy, was I looking in the wrong place, in more than one way.

It sort of came out of nowhere, and certainly caught me off-guard.  Put simply, I fell in love with a girl from the Vancouver area.  Vancouver?!  Three time zones away... more than a full day's travel, even if I had a 300 gallon gas tank and didn't need sleep, it'd take about a day and half to drive to her.  Hard to say how I know she's "the one", but I know.  Correction: hard to say how I know she's "the one" without having you wonder if I've started drinking cleaner fluid again.  But she is.  And that officially makes her the first permanent root  of my post-collegiate life, the first firm anchor that I want in place for the rest of my life.

If you know anything about Canadians, unless they're in the entertainment industry, it's pretty difficult to get them to agree to move to the U.S., and even if they are entertainers, it's usually decided by a losing coin toss.  Point being, it's gonna be me who moves to be with her.  (Okay, other factors are involved besides nativism, but whatever).  I spent a week this month with her, and I mused over what moving to British Columbia is going to mean for me, and why I'm going to hate it.

-In addition to being a complete uprooting, I'm moving to a place where being an American is a strike against you. 
-I'm moving to a big city.  Even with the capital of the state next door to me, I've never really felt like I was living in a metropolis.  But this means going from a farm town, to a medium sized city, to a huge metropolis, and I've never liked big cities.  The family trip to D.C. when I was a kid kinda freaked me out.  Being serenaded to sleep by police sirens will do that to you, you know. 
-This is also a city that relies heavily on public transportation.  I hate public transport.  I genuinely enjoy driving.  Having to focus on the road helps you forget about your troubles, and if you're lucky enough to find your jam on the radio, that's a bonus.  Oh sure, I could still drive, but there's a reason Vancouver is so big on the public option, and it's not just because of the green factor.  Traffic is horrendous here.
-And if you know anything about Vancouver in particular... not an agricultural epicenter, but they are famous for one particular crop... one that's still widely illegal.  I've never even smoked a cigarette.
-The mountains here are actually quite lovely, but he cityscape is butt ugly.  Seriously, the buildings are just EYESORES!  They look like they're supposed to be collapsible for easy relocation.  And the colors.. .ugh.
-Train station performers.  Ben E. King is rolling over in his grave, and he's not even dead yet.
-Pacific northwest.... it rains a lot there.  And snows, too.  I do not look forward to driving in the snow in that hilly area. 
-I don't care if I am moving to Canuck country... I'll always root for the Red Wings.  Deal with it.
-Cost of living there... much higher.
-I believe I said something about possibly working in radio there... at a station where over a third of your playlist MUST be Canadian artists.  I hate this policy for so many reasons.  Let me just say this: there's a reason no self-respecting lite rock station in the States plays the Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had A Million Dollars."  Somehow, I feel that sums it up succinctly.

I don't remember everything I said about how I'd be an ill-fit for the territory.  Maybe if my woman wants to remind me of everything I said to her about it, I can extend the list.  But you get the basic idea.  I'd have to be nuts to want to move there.

But the truth is that, as they say, home is where the heart is.  So that means, that woman--who is everything I've ever wanted in a woman but was told I was naive and foolish for wanting or believing I could actually find--is my home.  I don't even feel comfortable at her house, but when we're snuggled up together... I am at home.  I feel a contentment within me that harkens back to the afternoons in high school when I'd come home and take a nap, and wake up just in time for dinner, knowing I'd still be able to get all my homework done by ten and that I'd still be able to fall asleep before eleven.

So I'll be moving to Vancouver sometime next year.  Whatever worries and anxieties lie in wait for the chance to haunt me upon my arrival, I'll move there to feel the embrace of an absolutely wonderful woman, an embrace that tacitly proclaims, "Welcome home."


  1. Hey Phil, it's Kristen (Erica's friend from church). I promise I'm not creeping, I just like reading people's blogs.

    It's really awesome that you're moving to be close to Erica and sacrificing everything you have already in East Lansing (even though it might not be "home", it's certainly somewhere you've been for a while).

    Also, yes, we Canadians are fairly attached to our awesome homeland. Not that the US is bad, but we do love it here (awful-smelling weed and all...also, it's not like you can ALWAYS smell it. Mostly in certain neighbourhoods and usually at concerts.).
    I've never felt that Vancouver had the typical metropolis-city type feel like a Toronto or New York. Likely that's due to the west coast culture of being more laid-back and relaxed. But yes, it's still a big city.
    There are plenty of people who live in Vancouver who don't cheer for the Canucks. We politely accept it since you're not from Vancouver, but may secretly try to convert you. Just so you know. :P
    And there are plenty of good Canadian artists as well - RUSH, Arcade Fire (well, partly), Bryan Adams, etc. There are of course some that aren't as good, but you'll get that with all groups of artists, I think.

  2. Hey Kristen. Feel free to follow and comment on the blog anytime. I had some unfortunate early encounters with Canadians when I was a teen... at a Christian convention, no less! Having to listen about everything they prefer about their home country... just came off as condescending. As far as Canadian artists... it's not that there aren't good ones, it's that the radio deck is purposely stacked in their favor, and it does have negative consequences on programming quality, imo. I do like the Diamonds, Guess Who, BTO, Four Lads, Crew Cuts, the Band, Steppenwolf... and the BNL when they're not trying to be funny.

    But I'm sure I'll love it eventually. I have had happy Canadian experiences, like the theater field trip to Stratford my junior year.

    But I'll always root for the Tigers, Lions, Pistons, and Red Wings. That's one thing you'll never take away from me. And the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy will always be more important than the battle between SFU and UBC. lol

  3. Wow, that sucks about the Canadians at the convention!! I mean, I love Canada a lot, but being condescending about it is not cool at all. I'm glad you have a few happy Canadian experiences! Stratford is great. :D

    Oh and yeah...the BNL are great if I'm in a goofy mood. =D I think, though, one of the reasons you have to play so much Canadian content is because not everyone really knows who they are. It does get a bit repetitive sometimes, though.