I’m going home today. I’m leaving from home to go to the airport to fly to Calgary to meet my brother and my mom and drive home from there. I think Red Deer will always be “home”, even though i’ve been away longer than I was there. And when i’m there i’m always amazed by how much it has changed. Home. It’s really now a place that lives only in my memories, eh. That home, that place where people rode horses along Fairway Ave; that place where we’d run our ski-doos out the back yard, across the street, past the church, across Kerry Wood Drive, down the hill to Great Chief Park and then onto the river (it froze in winter then, this is long before the dam was built–now it never freezes, the river); that place where the trains ran just down the street, behind Jensen’s house, next to the abandoned gravel pit, every night about 11 the train would whistle through town, and sometimes, often, i would wake up, stand on my bed to look out the window and see the light of the engine sweep the sky as the train went west, chasing the long-ago sun.That home is long gone. The farm from whence came the horseback people, that neat yellow house and the tidy barn–it was torn down in the 90s, I think, maybe the early 2000s. There’s a big fancy subdivision there now, with a man-made lake in the middle. The river still runs past, but no one pays attention to it. The trains don’t run through town anymore. Jensen’s old house was torn down a long time ago, the early 70s maybe. There’s nothing left of it. New houses where that farm house was, too. Sometimes the people living there will dig up an old horseshoe nail or even an arrowhead when they’re gardening.
Every time i go home, I am more of a stranger. But it is still more home than any other place will ever be. I am more of a ghost than a stranger, I guess.
I feel like a stranger in my home town too. Even though I’ve lived here my whole life.
I tend to feel that way about the whole world, now that I have spent too many decades in it.