Is home where you were born? Or is where your parents live? Maybe it’s where you own a house?
I grew up 2 oceans over on the East Coast of Kenya in a small town called Mombasa. Having lived in Dundas,Toronto, Hamilton, Uxbridge, Milwaukee, San Jose and now Burlington, my definition of home is maybe a little skewed. All of those places were home at some point. Can you have two places you call home? My parents still live in the house I grew up in, in Mombasa, a little island off the East Coast of Kenya and when I was Skyping with them about what home is, they were mildly offended that I didn’t resoundingly say Mombasa is home to me.
I have lived in Burlington for over 8 years now, Burlington is home to me. But Mombasa is home also. There are some definite similarities in both places. Mombasa spans 82 sq miles and Burlington 72 sq miles. Burlington has 4 seasons and so does Mombasa ( hot, hotter, hottest and rain) . The Indian Ocean view I had on my frequent drives around the island is now substituted by Lake Ontario and instead of the car sized potholes bothering the drivers, we have construction to contend with. Maybe I am making up the similarities to feel some sort of childhood connection to Burlington that I missed?! Both places are just as dear to me and I truly can say I have two places that I call home.
Why? Because home for me is where you have the meaningful, relevant relationships that define who you are and what you do, and make home a place you want to return to when you are away. Downtown Burlington is one of those places where meaningful relationships are easy to create. Every time I have walked into a store, someone always talks with me and educates me about their product or service. Oftentimes it is the owner themselves and the act of taking the time to spend with me makes me feel special and valued. You get that feeling at home. Seeing the community come together and have fun during the Amazing Bed Race or Lobster Fiesta instills a deep sense of satisfaction that you are where you belong. That is what home feels like.
Running a business and tending to the needs of my family I often get caught up in the whirlwind that is life. Well maybe it’s more like a monsoon! Is it convenient for me to shop at a big box store? Of course it is, but the monsoon doesn’t stop when you enter a store with 20 checkout lines of which 6 are open and all are packed 5 people deep. In fact the monsoon may escalate, especially if you went in for a couple of items and are stuck behind people with carts full of stuff in the express lane! But when you enter the doors of Tamp, Anise, Saigon, The Gym on Pearl, Joelle’s, Saltridges, Fairhome, or any downtown business, the conversations start and the monsoon is gone. That is home.