On my way to get a haircut today, I rode my bike on some backstreets of a neighbourhood to avoid traffic. I happened to pass a house that had just been sold. A house that I’ve never been in but one that I’ve been aware of for most of my life. When my parents were newly married, my father’s mother and her four youngest children were suffering through some tough times. My grandfather came and went and I can’t keep track of when he was around but I think my parents helped find my grandmother and my youngest uncles and aunts this place to live. The details are sketchy but I believe the five of them lived on the top floor of this house. A few years later, when I was born, my mother and father and I and the five of them all lived in another small rented house. Eight of us in a semi-detached. My mother was twenty-three and my father was twenty-five.
I don’t know who bought this house on Barrette Street. Perhaps it was a young family or a professional or a flipper. Who knows? But it occurred to me that anyone buying an old house, a house with history, has no idea what joy and misery may have unfolded within the walls that they will call home. Every time I drive down that street, I look to that house and try to recall a memory I don’t have. To remember some of the tough times some people I love had to endure.
Where we live shapes us in ways we may not understand for decades, if ever. I went to kindergarten in the suburbs of Montreal. Had my parents stayed together, my life there may have unfolded entirely differently. That my mother chose one rental in one neighbourhood when I was eight years old determined who my friends were going to be. My best friends to this day. It is all so random.
If I didn’t get my first restaurant job where I did, I wouldn’t have met the fellow who I formed a band with and I wouldn’t have had the club gig the night I met my wife.
My hairdresser today was a twenty-five year old woman who came to Canada from Yemen as a five month old because her father was a persecuted journalist. There were a thousand variables that brought me to her chair to cut my hair today. And it was a pretty good haircut so I’m thankful for that random luck. But almost nothing seems like it should have happened. Almost every connection we have seems like the most unlikely of outcomes.
I finished up my ride at the liquor store, buying a bottle of wine for our spaghetti and meatballs tonight. And on the piped in music was a song sung by someone who I’ve met. Written about someone who is a friend of mine. It was one of those moments when you feel like you are home. However unlikely it seems that you’ve arrived where you are.