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Written on February 12, 2009:
Each Chapter Builds New Life
Eight o’clock in the morning on December 12, 1999. A plough growls as it shoves a dense pile of snow towards the curb outside 18 St. Hildas Ave. in Toronto. As the sun’s rays creep through cotton ball clouds I find myself staring out of the bay window in the living room where I’ve spent the past eight and a half years of my life.
I can make out the slight reflection of the room behind me in the window panes. The room is empty, except for a few garment boxes strewn about the dark hard wood floor. My dad cautiously approaches as he firmly grasps my shoulder. “You ready to go monkey?” he asks. A deep breath exudes from my 13-year-old frame as I take one last look at my childhood. “It’s a bit too late to back down now, eh?” I sigh, knowing that it’s time.
My move from Toronto to Chicago was not the first in my life and it certainly wouldn’t be the last, although, in many ways it was the most meaningful. While it was difficult to leave the house I grew up in, the family that surrounded me and the friendships that I cherished, moving to the quiet city-side suburb of River Forest, Illinois was more of a migration in my mind. I always knew I would come back.
Similarly to the two and a half years I spent as a toddler living in Braunschweig, Germany, my stint in Chicago lasted about as long before making my comeback to Hogtown, not withstanding a one year term in Montreal. My extended vacation, as I like to call it, was more than a scene change, however, it began a new chapter in my life.
My dad always told me that moving around “builds character”. Easy enough for him to say considering it was his job choices that kept the handles on our luggage constantly warm. Yet, as I look back on the years I spent living away from Toronto—the city I will always consider to be my home—I feel as though I am genuinely fortunate for the opportunity I have had to build strength in my own character.
From a conniving little buck-toothed 13-year-old in 1999 to a relatively mature, straight-toothed 21-year-old in 2009, the decade that was has determined what is.
A Chinese proverb once wrote: “Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”
Throughout my travels I have learned to better understand difference, both in perspective and personality. I have learned the importance of surrounding yourself with people who you can learn from and grow with. I have learned that in order to live a full life you have to be prepared to let yourself live. Most of all, I have learned how important it is to embrace change, while never forgetting what has brought you to that point.
I have written several new chapters for myself since the winter of 1999. Each of them is richer in content, as the context in which I live my life is progressively shaped through my experiences.
While my drive has not yet peaked to discover new ways to build my character, I know that no matter where I choose to go in life, I will always come home.