You know the classic picture painted by the words of C.S. Lewis: Lucy hides in the wardrobe during hide and seek, but as she tries to get to the back of the wardrobe, she suddenly finds herself in… NARNIA.
Two parallel worlds, where time and space don’t intersect. That was what it was like for the children in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to be in Narnia, and that was what it was like for me both times that I went home this month.
In a word, it was weird. When I’m in one place, it feels like everything in the other place is paused, in the same way that the kids could spend years in Narnia and come back to the same moment that they left in the real (or “real”) world. But that’s not how it works, and really realizing that feels incredibly weird. Talking to people you haven’t seen in a while means trying to go back in your mind to when you last met. Even if that’s only been a month or two, it usually feels like forever. I would have to go into my memory and filter out everything that’s happened since I came to Canada at the end of August. Believe me, that’s not as easy as it seems, especially when you consider the fact that for the last month I’ve basically been an exam zombie. You know, the same glazed look in the eyes and instead of saying “Braaaiiiinnssss” you yell “Sleeeeeeep”. It was Halloween all month for university students, don’t you think?
Even so, my normality (or lack thereof) was not the only thing that made going home seem weird. Being in my house instead of my dorm room created the illusion of being back home before I had even left for university. Both times I had gone home for some sort of festival (and my birthday, the first weekend I was back 🙂 ), and when you combine that with the feeling of being home during the summer, you get a brain that is 100% on vacation. I would forget to check my email for a day or two and trying to make my brain focus long enough to study a bit was like trying to teach a squirrel how to do backflips through a hoop – it just wasn’t happening. I just wanted to be home on break, especially the second time, because my flight home was a few hours after my last midterm and I really just wanted university life to fade away for a few days. And it did, but that could have been a problem if I wasn’t lucky enough to be home on weekends with a lighter load of homework. Kudos to all you commuters out there, because I don’t know if I could balance home and university if I were in your place. Being on rez and living away from your family may be stressful and downright sad sometimes, but it has a lot of positive aspects, too, and one of those aspects is that being on rez allows my life to revolve entirely around the university experience (studying, taking responsibility for myself, going to events around campus, etc.). As much as I miss everyone at home, I also don’t have to worry about going home after class and figuring out when to study amidst other commitments. Even more respect to those of you who can add working one or more jobs to that mix. Seriously.
After the weird experience of being back home, I was transported back to Canada and student life, by that magical contraption commonly known as an airplane (not a wardrobe). Back to a world that had seen many events while I was gone, though those events never really happened for me. To my mind, there’s just an empty space where there would have been the events of those weekends if I had stayed in Canada.
So what is going home like?