Sometimes the places we expect to love, we don’t. And sometimes, without warning, we fall in love places we didn’t expect.
September, Gabriola Island
In September, we flew up to Victoria, rented a car, drove up to Nainamo BC, and stayed the night there, before heading over on a small ferry to the small island of Gabriola. The very tiny island is relatively cool and wet like Portland. We were there to bury the ashes of Jeremiah’s grandfather and step-grandma, years after they had passed. I had never met Priscilla, but the stories I have heard makes me think I would like her, and she would not very much like me. I often like the people most that don’t like me. I wish I had known her.
I had expected Gabriola Island to be filled with grumpy hermits who were upset that outsiders were visiting their island. What I found was an artsy island, with liberal viewpoints, and friendly people who served excellent pizza and beer. On that island, we had one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten. Food is important for me; some people say, “You should eat to live, not live to eat,” and I am staunchly in opposition to that. We only have one life, and I’m going to eat my way through it. Having said this, I also love vegetables so don’t start a war against my diet, please.
The island was a place I could see coming home to, despite it being so removed from the rest of the world. It is a heavily wooded area. The roads are curved, winding through acres of homes and strange pop-up art pieces. I know in my heart that I would become bored, but it had a magical quality about it, one that I hadn’t expected.
Jeremiah and I spent the afternoon after the burial on the rocky coast, the sunlight switching to rain. We drove the entirety of the island in about an hour. Every few hundred feet were signs warning of deer crossing. The island was covered in petite deer, “Careful, fawns,” the signs read.
When we left the next morning, we locked the strangely-fashioned, wooden gate of our AirBnB behind us so that the deer waiting directly beside the fence would not eat the vegetable garden behind us. I had been so excited to spend the next several days in Victoria, but I had not expected to love Gabriola so much. It was hard to leave; I felt home.
Family: Home is where the heart is
Jeremiah’s family is one that has taken me in as a member of it’s own. His uncles and aunts are kind and warm and funny, and I feel like his parents are my second set.
Two years ago Sue painstakingly hemmed a three-layer dress for me for a wedding I was in. I stood on the dining room table in wedge heels, trying not to move, for hours. The generosity of someone to do that (FOR FREE! SERIOUSLY!) is beyond what I think I could ever provide. Ross, Jeremiah’s dad, is someone I talk more on the phone with than anyone else, excluding maybe my own parents. We chat about bees, gardens, Mexican beaches, and I listen to his outrageous stories repeatedly. It’s what you do when you’re family.
By the time we laid to rest Jeremiah’s grandparents at that tiny cemetery on Gabriola Island, I had fallen in love with the Island, but part of that was that the people I care so much about were there with me as well.
Seekers of warm weather
Sometimes, it’s hard to pinpoint why we love a location so much. Other times it’s obvious.
When Jeremiah fell in love with Padre Island Seashore, I could see why. We had left Western Oregon nearly two months earlier and it had been rainy and cold, the bone-wetting weather setting in already. Padre Island seashore was warm and sunny, albeit a bit windy. The sand was hot on our bare feet in late December, and even I put on a pair of shorts. Often, when I think of beaches, I think of tiny bugs biting at my legs, but at Padre Island, there were none. A hundred yards down from where we camped, people flew a kite as the wind swept it over the ocean waves. When I expressed my concern for not having a proper sparkly-tree Christmas, Jeremiah disagreed that this wasn’t magical. Here we were, sitting outside our home on wheels, drinking a beer in swimsuits directly by the ocean.
“This is magical.” He told me, “It’s adult magic.”
Some places do not steal our hearts
We were in Louisiana a short few weeks ago, sitting along the East Cote Blanche Bay at Burns Point Park. There were aspects that we both loved: the ocean, the warmth, the lush greenery that surrounded us, the potential to see an alligator, the sunsets over the gulf.
But our hearts weren’t there.
It doesn’t feel like a potential home. I’m fairly sure the bugs have extra teeth for biting there, the ticks are incredibly gregarious (they all want to be blood brothers with Bernadette) and Bernadette killed a huge snake in Louisiana. I thought I would love the Louisiana coast, but I don’t. It’s not my place.
Home is where we park it
Part of the reason we are on this journey is to find a place to eventually call, “Home.” We’re not any where nearer to that than six months ago when we hit the road. Hell, maybe we’ve already found it and we just don’t know it yet.
For now, we’re going to keep traveling to find places we love more than we expected, and others that just don’t steal our hearts. It’s a journey after all, not a single destination. Home is where we park it.
Where are the places you’ve fallen in love with that you didn’t expect? What places did you expect to love, and realize it just wasn’t for you?