My mother referred to her hometown in Ontario as “home.” As in, “when we are home
next week, we’re going to visit your drunken grandfather.” I resented this reference;
home should be where we lived – her husband and daughters. It’s easy to see now that I was being
overly sensitive, but I’m also certain that she likely persisted with that reference knowing it hurt my feelings,
and Kathy’s as well. As for my father, tough to say.
And yet, I now find myself using the word “home” when planning a trip to Oswego, and it startles me.
I grew up there, went to the schools, lived in the house where my mother still lives.
I had friends, fell in love (more than once), had an apartment and a job. And after I left, I’ve always
gone back. I very much miss my friends there, and those whom I love. Yet despite all of that, it never felt
Maybe it was because of the gray skies, the everlasting winters and 20-minute summers. Or maybe it was
how I saw the Lake – vast and icy cold, the rocks slippery with moss – intimidating and a
I knew I had to leave, like the town itself wanted to eject me. I wasn’t close to my parents or even my sister then; there wasn’t enough there to construct a shelter, much less a home. And I always held back;
I never gave all of me to anyone or anything, much less any place. My friend James dubbed me
“aloof” when I was 14, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a compliment.
I often think it took me a ridiculously long time to grow up. Sometimes I'm not sure I'm
there yet. But I do, finally, feel at home – wherever I am.
I was born in Oswego, NY,
"I had always wanted to be a writer, but was impeded by the belief that to be a writer one had to be extraordinary, and I knew I wasn't. By the time I was ready to give up my academic career I had realized that while books are extraordinary, writers themselves are no more or less special than anyone else." The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield