It’s a summer tradition. Every summer I open the doors to the little balcony in the front of our house and let the breeze blow in. It usually takes a few days before the winds get strong enough, but they inevitably blow my papers all over my room and I have to sort them out again. The first time it happened I might have been a little annoyed, bit I found it funny. Now it’s something that reminds me spring is here. There’s something about being able to open the house so that the outdoors and the indoors intermingle and become one that’s freeing. The cat and dog are free to roam onto the little spits of outside that are the two balconies of our house, and every once in a while we humans decide to roam out there too.
Maybe it’s just me, but I can smell salt in the air. And whether it comes from the melting snow, which is finally giving in to months of bombardment with slurries and brines of varying salty compositions, or from the St. Lawrence river – a body of somewhat brackish water, which is only a few kilometers away – it feels refreshing. This is why I love summer in Montreal. Summer is a time of life and celebration life. There is no stifling heat, there is no freezing cold; there are only cool nights and plenty of festivals. And even though there are so many places to go and things to see in the city and around the Old Port, I think my balcony is my favorite. There’s hardly enough room to hold the small metal table and two tiny chairs that my parents put on it, but it’s a place where I’ve spent hours over the three years that I’ve been here sitting, writing, thinking, or just soaking up the cool, fresh air. I look forward all year to the first night that I get to sit out on in the air and feel at home.
It’s taken me nearly three years to learn just how important it is to have somewhere to call home. And the strange thing is that you don’t get to pick your home. Your home is where you go when you have nothing else to do; the place you feel comfortable to be happy, to be sad, or to just exist. You can have multiple homes – when I lived in Chapel Hill I had no less than three – but I’ve found that home isn’t always your house or even the place where you live; sometimes your home is simply the place where you feel alive.
An aside: My writing process tonight has been: 1) type some words, 2) hear enormous gust of wind, 3) grab laptop and beer; hold tightly, 4) repeat. Optional step: shiver (it’s gotten a wee bit chilly!)