Bike rides to the playground, tackle football in the field after school, catching frogs at the lake and night games when we were supposed to be sleeping in the tent in the backyard. That was my childhood and teen years in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada. I have these vivid memories or riding my bike to my buddy Randy’s house. Playing Super Nintendo and drinking our Crystal Pepsi. Hours and Hours of Kings Quest (when we got stuck we would ride our bikes to the computer store to sneak a peek at the game guide for tips, this was before the internet). My friend Daniel and I would ride our bikes to the lake and spend ours climbing around the trees and reeds at the waters edge catching frogs. Usually stop for a treat at the Shell station and then play meet up with everyone to play at the old wooden (amazing) playground. As we got older we would gather to play Magic the Gathering and go ride our bikes over to the playground or lake for more adventures. Junior High weekends were spent sleeping over at my Best Friend Tyler’s house often. His parents let us have the run of the basement and we often set up a tent. We got up to a lot of nothing good but they are my best memories. Growing up.
We all grew up and moved on in life. I love that social media has allowed me to keep up to date but it isn’t the same. I have not been back to Grande Prairie in many years, probably 4…It isn’t home anymore. The economic down turn has lead to many problems. My once safe town that I could ride bikes until 3 in the morning (did it many times) or walk to the 24 hour grocery store to buy junk food and rent moves after midnight (such rebels) is not as safe. It makes me sad knowing that my nieces that live there will not have the freedoms to be silly kids that go all over town without checking in, that they won’t be able to walk along the paths I grew up playing in with my friends because things change and home isn’t “home” anymore.
Home now is a little town that I never would have thought I would live in. Where to get to anything you have to drive 30 minutes. Where the kids play like I did in my city growing up, where you catch frogs and crayfish in the pond in the summer and everyone waves as you walk your dog down the middle of the too wide streets. Where sidewalk are less common than horses in backyards and I can hear kids playing at the park in the summer 3 blocks away.
Home changes as we grow but what has made a place home seems to have stayed the same.