I was raised in a small community called Havelock, New Brunswick, Canada. I’ve lived here, in the same house, for eighteen years of my life. I’ve gone to school here, I spent my childhood here, I experienced life here; this is my home.
I went to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. I’ve lived here, in the same house, for four years of my life. I learned to love here, I learned to be independent here, I experienced life here; this is my home.
I moved to the countryside to be an Au Pair in County Kildare, Ireland. I’ve lived here, in the same house, for a year of my life. I became fearless here, I grew up here, I experienced life here; this is my home.
From country to city, starring different people and chapters of my life, these three places have all given me such a dynamic view of the world. The one thing they have in common is that each one of them is a home to me; they are a part of me. Being away from any of these places, I find myself longing for them. I feel comforted and uplifted whenever I am with them, and a bit saddened and lost whenever I’m away from them.
How is it that I can have three homes? To understand how this feeling, how this international hominess can exist, is to understand identity. Think about it: wherever we are, wherever we come from, each one of us brings with us unique memories of living from around the globe. These memories modify and transform as we settle into unfamiliar landscapes. The identities that we form in these places link the processes through which people are made collective, as well as how people develop as distinct individuals. Identities are forged, not engrained, and are constantly changing depending on where we go and what we expose ourselves to.
Identities are constructed through places, and places are constructed through identities.
The Havelockian Gina is different from the Haligonian Gina, which is different from the Irish Gina; but together, they influence and shape my one true self. People do not have single essential identities, and places don’t have one either. The uniqueness of a place is constructed from particular interactions, experiences and understandings. For example, when you think of Canada, what do you see? Do you see one distinctive culture that emerges prominently above all others? Or do you see a melding of cultures that have given a transnational identity to the country, with no distinction whatsoever? Our identity is, and seems to have always been, the fact that we have no “true identity”, but in fact we have many identities from many different places that creatively combine to make what we know as Canada. So many homes and cultures have made this country, just as so many homes and cultures have also made me, me.
What’s really great about having so many places to call home is knowing that each one of these places have grown and transformed because I have become a part of them just as they have become a part of me. My identity has been moulded by Havelock, Halifax and Ireland, but these places have, in turn, been moulded by me. What they are, and what they become, is directly influenced by my being there. When you interact in any place, within any space, you leave a part of yourself behind while taking a piece of it with you. The reason you can have so many places to call home is because you have spent enough significant time and energy in such a place that both you and the space you inhabit have altered in some way. It has changed you and you have changed it. These places won’t ever be the same as before you arrived, and you won’t ever be the same after you leave.
It’s a paradox that can help us to relate to other places and spaces beyond what we know to be our own. The people are what make the place, and the place are what make the people, and so to travel and experience such places so intimately, and connect with them so passionately, is to set down new roots, build a lasting relationship of shared knowledge through its people, and, consequently, give yourself another place to call home. My heart beats vibrantly to the rhythms of Havelock, Halifax and Ireland in perfect harmony; I am a product of their environment, and they are a product of me.