James and I like to joke that we grew-up on opposite sides of the tracks because, well, we did. We see eye-to-eye on nearly everything (faith, finances, parenting, our relationship, etc.) but it’s interesting how different the paths were that lead us to this point.
James grew-up in Elmwood right on Bronx in a tiny little house. He attended a community elementary school (Prince Edward) with some fairly underprivileged kids. I, on the other hand, grew-up in Charleswood and attended a private school for my entire education. My family regularly went on vacations to places like Mexico and spent every summer in Penticton, B.C. stuffing our faces with fresh peaches, learning how to work a pottery wheel with my Grandmother and slowly slipping down the canal on an inner-tube. James can count on one hand how many times he’s been on an air plane, I think I lost count when I was 7. He grew-up listening to his dad play cheesy old gospel records while Mozart and Vivaldi were common morning tunes floating around our home. My parents loved to entertain and would often have nice dinner parties with people who, from my 4 foot perspective, must have been very important decked-out in their stylish 80’s sequins, shoulder pads and fur coats. There’s a story that one of my mom’s friends tells about how my sister and I were over playing with her kids one day when we were asked what we’d like to have to drink. She was expecting an answer like “milk”, or “water” but instead one of us politely chirped-up and said, “Perrier and orange juice please”. There also a story that my mother-in-law tells about how a she let a construction worker take little Jamie for a ride in his front-end loader to 7-11 for a slurpee.
James learned how to fish in a canoe on the rivers of Manitoba and I learned how to sail a boat in the British Virgin Islands. Two polar opposite upbringings (one not better than the other) and yet, by God’s grace, we’ve somehow come together and met in the middle to forge our own way of life with this family that we’ve been given.
I suppose that I’m thinking about all of this because we’ve moved back into Elmwood after having looked at buying houses in River Heights (and, quite honestly, we were hoping to find one simply to keep our kids at the school they were attending).
Our first morning back I woke-up before everyone else and rummaged through a few boxes to find our coffee pot not realizing that we hadn’t picked-up cream for a few days. I quietly stole out of the house and made my way to the corner store to buy some when I was struck by how happy I was to be back in this neighbourhood. The sun was poking through the houses, the grass was glistening with the new dew, birds were flitting around and the streets were a familiar sight. I knew that this person lived there, that house had a friendly shaggy dog, that other house always gets decked-out for Halloween, that guy walks his dog between 7 and 8pm every day. After being in a community for, going on, 5 years you get to know the little quirks and nuances of it’s residents and it’s rhythm. You know what each changing season brings to life in your little corner of the world. I was surprised by how at-home I felt. I let out a deep-sigh of relief, allowed the months of stress to slip off my back and thought to myself, “Ah, we’re back. All is well.”
Growing-up I would never have driven down in this part of our city and thought that one day I would be happy to raise my kids on the streets of Elmwood, but it’s where I find myself today. I’m glad to be back here, it feels like this is the side of the tracks that we are supposed to be on for this stage of our lives.