Appreciating Home

(and building a new one)...

So, I've finally settled in (mostly) to my new apartment and am currently boiling in the heat like the rest of the province. Now, this is a story I've thought about over and over again the past year or so and finally felt was the time to put it out there.

If you don't know me or haven't checked out my "About Me" section, you may not know I'm from Ucluelet, B.C. A quaint fishing town with a drinking problem, which was home for a long time. The first time around I did this ~leaving to university~ thing I left with an anticipation that had been building up for literal years- maybe even a decade. From elementary school I knew as soon as I graduated high school I would dip from this small town and move to Vancouver. Arguably not the best mindset but I was young and naive and hadn't learned any life lessons yet.

This is where the "First Year Disaster" comes into play- a time that was a perfect whirlwind of aimless fun, stress and a few character building life lessons. The delight of being in a city where no one knew me and I had a fresh new start had me realize just how little I knew. So, this second time around, I'm committed to having a healthier and more stable outlook to life in the city.

"Yeah, you're starting a new chapter but you'll always have it to look back on and open again.." - A friend and former co-worker

Being Idiot Squad member #1 and a teen with a bad attitude had me thinking, "ah, yeah, I don't think so. If I ever land my ass back here I'll be an idiot." Of course, in reality, I nodded and agreed. Young'in Aly did not realize just how perfect a way that would be to phrase things. Life is insane, so I've noticed and am starting to cherish in a way that I appreciate how it tests my resilence and adaptability. But, simply, I landed my ass back home and everything makes sense in hindsight.

Due to COVID, like many other things, life as I knew it was displaced. I was in the city studying for midterms then all of a sudden I was back at home, in my basement, studying for finals with the absence of my friends and knowledge of where my stuff was. Now, my saving grace as I saw it at the time was that I had an apartment in Vancouver I could soon move in to. Spoiler alert, this was also part of my lingering bad attitude toward home.

Life in Ukee was simple, it was chill, and most importantly there was a sense of community I hadn't stopped to appreciate in the 18 years I was there. But as the weeks turned into months and I realized I wasn't going back to the city for a hot minute and I knew I didn't have the mental will power to do university online while living at home, I began to contemplate. Now, I hate when people get philosophical and shit but, my god is self growth a thing and I have way more problems than previously believed.

Here are five things I realized I missed:

1. The West Coast.

I know Vancouver is on the west coast, but that's a different west coast. I'm vibe checking ya'll hard and you're not passing. The west coast of the island is one of the most beautiful places in the world (subjectively).

2. The Beach

Is minutes away, or 15, and instantly makes me feel like I'm home when I'm wading in the waves or just staring from the shore. Or body surfing with my cousin. #1 feeling in the world. If I could encapsulate home, it would be there.

P.S. It's closed right now because of construction but the Kwisitis Visitor Centre at Wickaninnish Beach has a beautiful reading room and viewing deck- especially in the evening when there's no tourists.

3. The Harbour

That glassy look the water gets in the early morning or evening is PERFECT. With the fish plants in the background making the air smell salty, fishy and seaweed-y. Not to mention Mt. Ozzard looking surreal. The. Best.

4. The Highway

An absolute nightmare in the summer and a moment and a half for tourists but goddamn, highway 4 has my heart. I love speeding on that road and the views are absolutely gorgeous. You could show me a picture from that highway and I'd know exactly where it was. The best: doing 110km/h, passing sprout lake on the way to Ukee, absolute beauty. I want that tattooed on me for life.

5. The Community!

Now, I know the thought of knowing everyone and all their business as well as the fact they know all your business sounds like it sucks. But, give me a chance here. Probably my most profound discovery is that: there's a community of people out there that have known me for my entire life, supported and watched me grow for YEARS. That ask me how university was, or about my dog or family or just talk about some town drama and smile at you when you pass them. I thought I loved not knowing anyone in the city but, I feel like really I've been deprived of connection and care to the community I'm in. Like, max 10 people know who I even am. Three people would notice if I were dead or missing and I know for a fact I am truly on my own in the city.

I feel like I didn't have to put it in the Top 5, but my family is up there. They're not too bad once you get to know them and quarantine bonding was a moment.

The Question: Why would I leave again?

This, this simple question, has had me thinking a lot about how I orient myself and choose my goals moving into the future. Initally, I left town to see the world, experience independence, escape to find new friends and build my life. To never see the old again. This time around I'm trying something different because ukee is a chapter in my life which is so central to my values and goals which can't be forgotten.

My life has no guider, there is no one telling me, "Do this! or do that! Or move home and leave the city!" There is literally nothing stopping me from grounding my roots in Ukee and carrying out my life there. Why would I leave? Opportunities? definitely. Freedom? a main factor. Meet new people? hell yeah. Experience the things I've never been able to? Grow into who I'm supposed to become? Sounds reasonable.

In my year away from home I achieved some of my objectives but I never felt "at home." There was always some ideology that I conformed to that I felt was what everyone needed to succeed- or to get ahead. I had never been in an environment so focused on skills, being the best or pleasing people who I can't say I could even respect. And it killed me on the inside. Yet I pushed along because I didn't see another way to compete.

Truth is: I'm too full hearted to not care about home and too driven to stay there. I know that if I'm ever going to do something that creates an impact, I have to force myself out of comfortable situations and learn lessons that will guide me and test my values. I wish I had some awesome life lesson at this point but-that's kind of just where I'm at.

In conclusion, dear reader,

Living in Vancouver, studying at SFU, making some of the best friends I've met in my life has been the greatest opportunity I could've asked for. I can't even begin to express how lucky I feel to be in this position. Now that I'm back, with the life I dreamed of, now what? The Ukee chapter has once again been closed but this time I see it as more of the building blocks of the book. I want to look at the new scenery I have, join the community and be happy. I sure as hell may not fit in to the highest of people around here but I just can't afford to lose the pride and values I've grown being from the middle of nowhere. I look forward to enjoying what I've been given and hopefully, just be me and get somewhere that pays the bills that way.

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