This blog post is dedicated to all of my Kitchener family and friends.
When I get the question “where are you from?” I don’t know how to answer it. Does this person mean where I was born, where I grew up, what city I lived in the longest, what city I lived in before moving to Glendon? Because all of those are very different questions.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve moved alot in my life time. Due to that, I’ve never really felt a strong connection to one place. Yes, I have fond memories of all the places I’ve lived; I have family still in Guatemala, I loved the hill behind my house in West Seneca, New York. Having lived in Toronto three times, it’s the city I’ve spent the most time in.
However, the city I have spent the most time in, consecutively, has been you: Kitchener, Ontario. From grade 7, right until grade 12, you are where I called home. You are the city where I really came into my own, and really started to form me into who I am today.
The more time I spend in Toronto, the more I become attached to this city. However it’s the memories and the people that are still there that keep me coming back to you, on weekends, for holidays, and why I still love you. You are the closest place to “home” I’ve ever felt. Why?
You are the last place where my entire family lived together; my sister now living in Houston with her husband, my brother living in Waterloo (same region, but still different city) and me having moved to Toronto for school (and due to how much I actually love this city, probably going to be here for a while), my family and I have all gone our own direction. My parents and my dog still live in Kitchener, so when I go home I love the time I spend there.
Of course my family and I still call each other, talk, text, Skype, Facebook and keep in contact, but you will always be the city where we last all were able to have a barbecue in the backyard, or watch a boxing match on a Saturday night (with wings of course). However, since my family has been in so many places together, I know that wherever we’ll be together will be amazing. We were the same family when we were in Houston for my sister’s wedding, and we’ll be the same family on Christmases that we’re together, or even when we Skype together.
Another reason I still have a connection with you is because of my friends there. As I said, I was able to spend all of high school in one place, with the same group of friends. For someone who went to four different elementary schools, that was a huge deal! And considering how high school is such a crucial and important part of a person’s life, St. Mary’s High School is a very important place in my life.
It’s the place where I found my passion for social justice and human rights. It’s where I first started growing and flourishing as a leader. It’s where I started finding out who I was, and who I wanted to be. It’s where the idea of me being teacher really solidified. It’s where I found a love and passion for French, which led me to Glendon.
And the friends. I met my best friends in Kitchener. Friends that saw me through super stressful times, friends who accepted me for all my faults and teenage hormonal times. Friends like Amber and Tim, who drove up here to Toronto this past Saturday to visit me. We stayed the entire day in residence, just talking, looking at my photo wall and reminiscing. We haven’t seen each other in a while, but it was just like it’s always been.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, even though I’m in Toronto now, I’ll still always keep those memories of Kitchener dear in my hear. Memories like being the first to get to school and last to leave (even before/after the teachers), or having the most intense workouts of my life in Karate class, or my Dad spontaneously deciding one day, that we were going to redo the floors in our house and install hardwood!
I was worried that I would get homesick moving here to Toronto and holding on too tightly to my memories. Or that I would fall so much in love with Toronto that I would forget Kitchener. However I just realized that the old saying “Home is where the heart is” doesn’t really apply to me. My extended family is in Guatemala, my sister is in Houston, my parents, brother and dog in KW, my best friends all over- in Guelph, Toronto, London, KW, Mississauga, Europe, Asia- and my memories being scattered around the globe, my heart isn’t all in one place. I am a man from everywhere and nowhere.
I won’t say that Toronto is my “home” because I have just as many reasons to call you my home, as I do Toronto. However I will say thank you. Thank you for being a special part of my heart, for introducing to me to some of the greatest people I know, for bringing my family together, and for giving me some very special memories I’ll keep with me for the rest of my live, wherever I am.
Juan, a man born in Guatemala, who grew up in three countries and six cities, who has spent the most time in Toronto, and lived in Kitchener before I moved to Glendon.