I was born in the Grace Hospital in Ottawa (a hospital that no longer exists), grew up in a suburb in the West End of Ottawa, and lived in the same house for almost 18 years (I moved once, when I was about 1, so I don’t really remember it). Ottawa is my hometown.
But for the past 6 years, I have been living in Kingston for university. Translation: away from home. Six years is a long time, especially in your early 20s!
I don’t know if I knew that I would be moving back to Ottawa after university. I never wanted to, nor did I not want to. But I knew it was always an option. In the September of my last year of university, J got a job in Ottawa, and that settled it for me. I moved back to Ottawa to be in the same city as my boyfriend, and because it made sense financially, I moved back in with my parents.
The city has changed, and so have I.
I used to always think that Ottawa was a boring city. It’s filled with civil servants, and it can’t quite decide if it’s a big city, or a small town. But in reality, Ottawa hits the sweet spot. It’s a city, with small town charm. Much of what I love about small towns (like Kingston), can be found in one way or another in Ottawa, too.
Growing up, I used to go shopping at the mall near my house, go to the park or to the local pool. And if I went to explore, I would go downtown to parliament, and to the Market.
Now, I’m interested in getting to know more of Ottawa. In 2016, my personal fun goal is to explore more local coffee shops. It’s a challenge that has many purposes, really. I love coffee, I like coffee shops with nice decor, I like meeting friends at coffee shops, I can also meet clients at coffee shops, and finding new coffee shops gives me an excuse to leave the house and explore my city.
Since moving back to Ottawa, I also started getting involved in the creative scene. There are some seriously cool makers and artists in the Ottawa area! (Personal plug: come visit me and all the other cool Ottawa makers at some upcoming craft shows!)
Ottawa is not as boring as I thought it was. Some things are new, and some things have always been around and I just haven’t noticed them. Since I left Ottawa, my interests have changed, too. So I’m starting to find new exciting things to do, and places to see.
My parents have changed, and so have I.
Moving back home has been an interesting challenge for both me and for my parents.
It has been frustrating at times, getting into each other’s spaces. We squabble over silly, yet important things, like doing the dishes, leaving the lights on, and using the car. My parents are used to the peace that comes with an empty nest, and I’m used to the freedom of doing the dishes whenever I feel like it. So I continue to pray for peace and humility among us, especially in acknowledging when I’m in the wrong.
I am thankful that my parents have welcomed me back (and still pay for lots of things- thank you parents!), and for the friendship and company they provide, too. At the end of the day, family is family. But they are also people. And people change over time. So it is my job to be patient, and flexible, and loving.
My friends have changed, and so have I.
Most of my high school friends have left Ottawa. Of my closest friends when I was in high school, most are now in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver. Only a handful are still in Ottawa. And if they went to university in Ottawa, they have new friend groups, too. There’s no going back in life, only forward.
I have met a lot of new people at church, and at work. And I continue to meet people through my interests, too. It’s the wildest thing to meet someone who knows you firstly from Instagram! But that is the wonder of this online, social world we now live in. As the song goes, make new friends, but keep the old!
Finding my new normal
I’ve been back in Ottawa for about 4 months now, and I’m now finding my new normal.
I go to work, I go home, I do calligraphy, I help out my church’s youth fellowship, I go to church, I go to small group, and I hang out with Jethro. Somewhere in all of that, I hang out with, joke with, and disagree with my parents. And that’s our normal.
I’m sure this experience is a common experience for many people who leave for university, and then return home. It’s a common experience for a number of people in my church small group, so maybe it is for you, too.
If you moved back to your hometown too, let me know what shocked you the most about moving back home!