Jennifer Hillier

There’s no place like home

Jun 1, 2009 | Uncategorized

I’ve been fortunate to spend the past few days with family and friends in my hometown of Toronto.  Mainly family.  And while the circumstances are incredibly sad – coming home for a funeral isn’t like coming home for a wedding – there is still so much joy to be had in seeing the faces of the people I’ve grown up with, who know me best.  There’s nothing quite like sitting in the middle of a room full of folks who look just like me, who know who I am and don’t expect anything from me other than a smile and a warm hug.  I’ve laughed and cried more in the past three days than I have in the past year, and there have been so many moments where I’ve asked myself, “What the hell am I doing in Seattle?”

Don’t get me wrong, life in Seattle is wonderful and one of the best parts about living twenty-five hundred miles away from where I grew up is the peace and quiet.  Seattle, for me, is free of distraction and obligation, which is great for writing.  My life is drama free.  And I’ve come to really like it that way.   It’s almost jarring to come home and be surrounded by family.  Because my family – like every family – is loud, hilarious, gossipy, loving, politically incorrect, nurturing, intrusive and, yeah, even annoying.  They’re not afraid to “go there”.  They’ll ask me anything, because they can, and the top four questions I get are:

“What’s it like living in the States?”

“What are you doing for work?”

“When are you having kids?”


“When are you moving back home?”

My answers, in order, are Good, I’m writing, Eventually, and I have no idea.

Their responses to my responses, in order, are Seriously?, Seriously?, Hurry up!, and Seriously?

I didn’t realize how much my life has changed in the past two years until I saw it reflected on their faces.  And it makes me wonder – could I do what I’m doing if I was still living in Toronto?  Would I have had the courage to quit my job and write two novels (and start a third) if I hadn’t moved to a new country and been stuck with no work permit for months and months?  Would I be as happy with my life in Toronto as I am with my life in Seattle?

The best answers I can come up with, in order, are I don’t think so, Definitely not, and I guess I’ll never know.

What I do know is that I wouldn’t change a thing about my life right now.  Seattle is good for me.  But the past few days have made me realize that I need to make it a priority to get back to Toronto more often.  Because nothing really beats the laughter shared between cousins who once shared the same pajamas, the stories aunts and uncles tell about every funny thing I ever said as a kid, and friends who can describe in detail every single bad hairstyle I had in high school.

There’s no place to like home to remind me how loved I am, and how far I’ve come.