According to a common adage, home is where you make it. That’s true because in this age of transience it’s a common life experience for many, whether it’s because of work, school or just the way life unfolds.
But when you have the chance to return to the place you really feel is home, it’s a different and much better experience.
That’s what my wife and I are feeling since coming back to Sarnia after being away for six years. For my wife, Michelle (some know her as Dorothy) it was home since she was born, raised and lived here her whole life except for the six years we were in Burlington.
For me, it’s a bit more complicated.
I came to Sarnia in November 1991 via a transfer to The Observer from Thunder Bay, where I had worked for 11 years as a reporter and editor. I was born in Fort William, which in 1970 along with Port Arthur, became Thunder Bay. At age 14, my family moved to Germany, which for my parents was home. Five years later, I returned home to Thunder Bay.
So you see, home is something to yearn for.
When I arrived in Sarnia, I didn’t know quite what to make of the city with its strange and scary petrochemical smells. But soon, I found Sarnians to be deeply involved in the wellbeing of their community. I made friends, including the close-knit group of people I worked with, and of course my future wife.
I came to love the beaches, the parks, the trips “across the river,” fries under the bridge, playing pickup hockey and so much more.
My wife and I lived in Petrolia for nine years, another wonderful town, but through work and other interests, we stayed connected to the city.
Sadly, the lack of work in my chosen field took us to Hamilton where I had a job and an apartment in nearby Burlington. Soon, I realized what I always hated about big cities: too much traffic, everybody in a hurry. Yes, there are some good things too, and there are good people I met, especially through work. But it never really felt like home.
Since returning, I haven’t been in gridlock once. I laugh when I remember Sarnians complaining about how long it took to leave the Lambton College parking lot after a Sting game. And then there is the comfort of actually bumping into somebody you know, which has happened twice.
As we sit on our balcony and watch ships glide into Lake Huron and hear the waves lap the shore at Canatara Park, it’s clear why Sarnia feels like home. How could it not?
Bruce Langer is a retired journalist who has worked in Sarnia, Hamilton and Thunder Bay. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org