I was born in Quebec, and grew up in the Montreal area. All of my early years, through high school, and a couple of years of college were spent there before moving out west 35 years ago. I had always intended to go back to visit, but somehow just never got around to it. As is often the case, life happens.

I’ve spent my entire adult life here in BC, almost twice as many years as I spent there, and so many key moments in my life have been here. And yet there was always a little part of me that still felt like Quebec, and the Montreal area in particular, was still sort of “home”.

When planning our main trip this year, we settled on Quebec. A significant chunk was to be spent in and around Montreal, experiencing the city (once again for me, her for the first time) and visiting many of my old haunts, riding the Métro, seeing the sights, and eating familiar foods. Once we arrived, despite many changes the years seemed to fall away. My French, terribly rusty after three decades of disuse, came creaking and stumbling back into some semblance of fluency. Like riding a bike, the rhythms of the subway found their way back into my feet.

It was all wonderful, but also more emotional – and in different ways – than I had expected, seeing these places that had been such a part of my life, some barely recognizable, many others almost eerily unchanged after all this time.

Comfortingly familiar places and things, memories of old joys, of past friendships, more poignant memories of time spent with people now gone — friends, neighbours, my dad. All seen through the lens of enough time and maturity to peer beneath the rosy veneer of nostalgia.

I’m extraordinarily grateful that I finally had the chance to go back… but by the time we left, I wasn’t unhappy to go. I wouldn’t have minded a few more days to explore, but I was content.

And now after a week back I’m doubly glad we made the trip, because I feel like I can once and for all mark that part of my life as done. Never forgotten, of course, and I’ll always look back on it with fondness, but done. There’s a good chance I may never go back again, but that’s ok: I no longer feel any need to — no unfinished emotional business, as it were.

Here is where my life is now and — most importantly — this is where all the people I care most about are.

I’m home.