There are still nights when I get homesick.
When I was a teenager, back on the Island, I would wander the streets of Oak Bay. I would go for a walk at nine, ten o’clock at night, provided it wasn’t raining (it rains less in Victoria than on the mainland).
After I ran away from home in 1997, to downtown Victoria, just over eight years ago this spring, there were nights when I would wander through the streets of the city core itself, down around the Inner Harbor, by the sites of the old original homesteads. I would go out, and walk until I tired myself out, and then come home around the same time my then-boyfriend would drift in from his shift at Kabuki Kabs. And I’d pretend that I hadn’t been out, because I didn’t want to worry him.
The problem is, I’ve never felt unsafe drifting through the night, at least, until I came here. I would walk through Kitsilano, through UBC, at night. I have always walked at night, a drifting ghost. It is my time to be suspended in reality, to be just outside the actual continuum I inhabit. I’m invisible, I’m soundless, I can’t be found. I don’t exist in anyone’s perception but my own.
Now, I fly through Venice on my bike, but it isn’t the same. It isn’t home. I am never going to come around a corner in Los Angeles and see unbroken hills of grass sloping down to the sea. It’s the Victoria golf course during the day, but at night, in summer, with the butter scent of gorse in the air, it takes on the fantasia quality that I so love about my home town.
In Venice, I see other ghosts drifting through the streets, the homeless, the poor. I see the waiters from Casablanca walking home from work in starched white shirts. I see the homeless, unseen, pushing shopping carts. Occasionally, I see a teenager, out on the streets far too late – but this is Los Angeles. Teenagers have cars in my neighborhood.
I would give anything, tonight, to be walking through the streets of Oak Bay, along the Straits with the moon shining on them.
I get homesick – not like I did in Texas, but enough. I will never outgrow it. I simply spent too long in Victoria to ever call anyplace else home. Maybe that’s why I move so much – no place will ever really be home beyond the borders of the Island.
I dream of home, twelve hundred miles away from it, in a city different from anything I have every known.
I have eighteen days until I see it again.