There was a brief moment of thinking, I want to move back to Ireland. I pictured a mossy house and different kind of job and windy walks. I ignored the sadness of home and reasons for leaving, the smothering history, both personal and not. I told myself people earn more there and homes are cheaper now and a better life would be within my grasp. But I knew I was telling myself tall tales. I'm not a melancholic really and knew I would ride it out.
Maybe it was a desire for things to be non-arbitrary. When you're single and end up living in a place like Toronto, it's easy to feel unhooked. And if after seven years you haven't gathered meaning all around you, you can start to ask questions like, why the hell am I randomly here anyway? And floating and free-falling is all well and good when you're 20-something and there's a beauty to arbitrariness and ultimate freedom in not having anchors. But now I want anchors and hooks and reasons to be in the place I am.
And perhaps I always wanted that and I was fooling myself about how freewheeling I really was. Maybe I'm just more honest these days about what I really want. And I don't know what those hooks and anchors I crave look like and whether they're other people or moments in the world or feelings or all of that. But I read this poem by Margaret Atwood last night and thought there was something to it.
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.