You know what? For the past five years – ever since meeting my Hungarian husband and flying away from the country I love – for the past five years, I’ve been asking this difficult question: where do I belong? And it would keep me up at night. Honestly, I’d be awake trying to reason whether we should move somewhere in Europe, stay in the UK, go back to Canada, hijack things to Australia . . . when you’re in an international relationship, the concept of home and belonging are suddenly challenged. Growing up, I had no idea how much Ottawa was a part of my identity – and when taken away, there was this lingering question: Where do I belong?
This mini crisis peaked with the event of our wedding, one moment planned for Europe, the next moved to Canada . . . and still nothing was resolved in terms of the future. Zsolt and I had a dream: house, family, kids, day-to-day happiness and settlement. We wanted to settle. But where? I began to imagine myself behind a wooden counter in a kitchen, with a red and white chequered apron tied around my waist and a hot pie cooling on the window ledge, which looked out over a lovely green yard with tall, solid trees – and everything would be just right. From the tidiness, to the location, to our lives. Everything, one day, would be just right . . . eventually . . .
And then I got cancer.
Which isn’t to say the dream of a clean kitchen disappeared. I still dream of a clean kitchen. And it isn’t to say the crisis of ‘where to live’ was resolved. Because we’re moving to Canada, but will we stay there forever – who knows?
However, getting cancer (surviving cancer) did change an essential aspect of my life. I stopped asking: “Where do I belong?”
It suddenly felt like a stupid question.
Where do I belong? Duh. I belong right here – right now – in this moment. And what do I belong to? I belong to my passions, my writing, my Love, and myself.
It’s like a light was flipped on. In the past five years I’ve been hunting for my identity. It was challenged when I left Canada. It was challenged when I was married. It was challenged when I got cancer.
And so it was sharpened.
I am Catherine. I am a writer. I am a wife. I am a breast cancer survivor. And those are things that have no passport, no national identity, no alien status, and no dependence to anything beyond myself (and Zsolt, in terms of marriage). Where do I belong? Geez Louise, I belong within myself. Geography is a luxury, to be close to family a bonus, to have spectacular views, clean kitchens, pies on the windowsill – that’s all wonderful and welcome. But in this moment I’ve got my essentials. I’m where I belong, finally.
All right, today’s blog post is totally inwards, and so sorry for spilling this self-reflection all over the page. But it’s a good revelation, and nothing but experience could have brought me to this point. I suppose as things change, my identity will keep shifting and shaping, but at least right now, age 28, tipping over into 29 and feeling good, I’ve found myself. I’ve found my passion (writing, creating, doing). I’ve found the love of my life. And it all feels amazing.
PS. I might have found a sense of identity – but my apartment is still a mess! The other night – in the pitch black and total silence, there was a huge CRACK (I started screaming even before waking up from the shock of the noise and Zsolt had to settle me down). Turns out, my wardrobe collapsed onto the ground. Now there’s a pile of clothes tangled with hangers and shelving on the floor. What a way to get the moving purge started. I’ll need to pick through my clothes/tidy this mess and decide: Canada (to live), Hungary (to vacation), charity (to give me an excuse for more shopping). So, with a push from providence, the packing has begun!