go home again

When I was young, there were a number of key phrases that my dad would remind me of:

On patience: “A watched pot never boils, Ali”

On commitment: “Once you’ve made your bed, you lie in it, Ali”

And throughout, these stuck with me. The patience thing gets me every time I look for abs after planks in yoga, end up eating under-cooked pasta, or check my watch for the hundredth time in a day.

The commitment thing- about making my bed and lying in it – was my frank Irish father’s reminder that if you do something, you see it through. Commitment, integrity.

Unfortunately, there was never an epilogue to that phrase. The clause that gets you out of bed should the circumstances be unfortunate. Or any sort of guide as to what circumstances warrant getting out of bed versus staying in it. What is commitment, what is self-harm.

We moved to the east end of the city over a year ago- it was partly a knee jerk reaction, partly a desire to level our living circumstances up. We left our apartment with the panoramic views of the city, trading it for residential life. We got a few more inches of space, along with the trappings of a house- snow to shovel, garbage to cart to the curb, street-level neighbour action.

That year was a lot of growing. I started my business, cultivated my client list, created an office to work out of. We weathered a lot of storms of life and death, cried, fought, fell deeper in love. We committed to honest and truth telling (a phrase often uttered, ironically, as “#truthtelling”). Somewhere along the way, between the pothead neighbours, rampant wildlife and street politics, we realized that we had made a bed that we did not want to lie in.

We tried everything to make things work, but location, location, location was not going to make the cut. When we would cruise by our old place, we would sit in our little jeep, mourning that “old life” and the fun we had.

Finally, it was time to go- our lease was coming to an end, and we had decided to climb out of this bed we had made. Many nights discussing why we had been so happy in the west, what had been slowly killing us in the east, mapping out what we wanted in a new home, selecting what to keep and what to sell- we were ready.

On a whim, I suggested we call up our old building- we liked the specs, the high-rise life, the security and the view.

You know the phrase, “You can never go home again?”

Doesn’t apply here, friends. Our exact unit was available- the one we had left in a knee-jerk flurry, the one with the panoramic view, the one that was in the heart of everything we loved. We moved back, the decision made in an instant. We hired the same moving company, who sent the same mover.

That mover scratched his head when we told him where we were going, just over year after he schlepped us across the city.

“Much better place, mate”

We told our parents our plan, and were met with a collective sigh of relief that came crackling across phone lines and through facetime.

“We knew you weren’t happy there. So glad you’re moving back.”

We ran into our old barista and told him we were back, just down the street.

“About time! Where the hell have you been?”

And now we are broadcasting out of our new-old place. The neighbours give us a second look, unsure as to whether we are coming or going. We settled back into the old-new life, chalking up our east end experience to a bit of a growth vacation. It had to happen, it taught us a lot, and brought us home again, connected and wiser.



alex kelly

public health + personal wellness