I am about to leave home. I am moving from my home in Vancouver to my home in Phoenix where I will spend the next four months of winter. Each time I move back and forth, it’s a transition, a marker that signals not only a change of place but a change of who I am.
When I am here, I fully belong to my home, my family, my life. I am dug into my place here. When I am in Phoenix, I am a foreigner, a ‘snowbird’, living outside my natural habitat and awaiting friends from other places to visit and provide me company. It would be easy to say one is better than the other but that wouldn’t be true. It is good to feel at home, to be attached and belong. It is also good to detach, to feel less comfortable, uprooted, more alert to differences.
These differences are subtle – it’s not like I’m moving halfway around the world, or speaking a foreign language. I’m going to a home away from home. But still, the change is there and it feels important to notice my own sense of self and how it is shaped by these two places.
I feel more alone, quieter, when I am in my home away from home. I am healthier, more fit because I am outside a lot of the time. Although I am familiar with the house and the neighbourhood, I am an outsider. I feel like something of a recluse. And there is also something about that I find exciting. As I anticipate the next several months, I feel a buzz of enthusiasm for what is to come.
I am reminded of the hero’s journey and the necessity of answering the call to adventure before the journey can begin. In my case, responding to the call, noticing the changes, actually creates the sense of adventure – it’s not going to be more of the same… anything could happen. In choosing to look at it in this way, I am committing to seeing it as an adventure. It challenges me to pay attention. To be someone on the move, even in this small way, to be more alive.