Saturday, February 09, 2019

Fly away home (again)

Sacred ground
London, ON
February 2019
This photo originally shared on Instagram
A little over 22 years ago, I flew into London for the very first time, in an Air Ontario Dash 8 Series 100. I remember the moment vividly as the plane dropped out of the clouds and the landscape snapped into view, the seemingly endless carpet of green and grey squares looking and feeling nothing like the suburbs of Montreal where I grew up. It was a couple of months before we were scheduled to move here, relocated by my employer, and in that moment I wondered if plopping my family into a relatively small-ish city in the middle of Ontario's rich agricultural belt was a smart move.

Yesterday, on my way home from a successful conference in Orlando, I dropped out of the same clouds. This time I was on a newer version of that old Dash 8, the Q400, flown by the regional feeder airline, Air Canada Jazz, that swallowed Air Ontario up soon after we moved here. The ground looked much the same now as it did then: Endless squares, lying fallow, waiting for life to return in spring.

The only difference? I wasn't exploring some new land; I was coming home. These days, I know the landscape, the stories that make our corner of the planet unique, the people who make it a community. Our community. Somewhere under the clouds on the horizon was our home. My wife was waiting for me in the airport.

The snapshots may have indeed looked the same, but my connection to this place had become far tighter in the ensuing 22 years. Indeed, the concept of "home" had shifted. Those farms below my window were no longer strange-looking signatures of some faraway place, and I smiled to myself as I waited to meet my wife in the place we had painstakingly made our own.

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