I always feel proud when I tell people that I’m from one of the most beautiful parts of Canada. When I go back to visit, I want to smack myself for ever leaving. If you held up a picture of the Okanagan and DFW, you’d be able to see why. Oh, hey, this is 2013. Let’s go ahead and do that!
The Okanagan Valley
See? Now of course there are pretty parts of DFW, and ugly parts of the Okanagan, but just look at how pretty that lake is! Every time I drove down the hill and across the bridge to go into town, I was stunned by the beauty.
As a teenager, I always wanted to get out of Kelowna as fast as I could. In fact when I was fourteen I began working at camp all summer long to escape the town and whatever it was that I felt was killing me slowly from the inside out (I was a bit dramatic.). On the weekends during camp, we had about 18 hours of free time in which a lot of people would choose to drive an hour into Kelowna to go shopping or just hang out. I always refused. I came to camp to get away and I didn’t want to go back until I had to, at the very end of August, just days before school started up again.
As an adult, married with kids, I have wondered what it was that made me want to get out of dodge as quickly as possible. My husband wonders that too because the stark contrast between the cement that surrounds us in DFW and the natural beauty that overwhelms us in Canada is simply breathtaking. Why would I ever want to leave such a place?
Well, you all know the journey I’ve been on lately, walking through major healing, breaking down lies and root systems from the past that have eaten away at me for years. This was my first trip back to Canada since I’d begun applying the principles of Robin Pasley’s “The Healing Path” to my life, and it was as if I was seeing my hometown through new lenses.
Coupled with the irritating self-image issues I experienced on a massive scale while I was there, I also saw things about my town that I’d never recognized before. For the right demographic, Kelowna is a super fun place to live. Night life is huge, there are plenty of beaches and restaurants, live music in City Park in the summer evenings, and Kelly O’Bryan’s which serves a delicacy known as Pacho’s — waffle french fries served like nachos with cheese and chives and their exclusive pacho sauce — to die for; I had them twice in three days (but yes, it was definitely the mirror lying to me about the size of my thighs . . .).
But on a deeper level, I saw some things that spoke to the struggles I had as a teenager trying to discover my true identity. I saw that identity struggle all over the city and even though the Okanagan is drastically different from DFW, there are similar forces at work in the spirit world such as envy, greed, insecurity, materialism etc. For the first time since I’ve come back as an adult, I didn’t have any desire to return. I didn’t feel the need to get out like I used to though, maybe that’s because I knew I wasn’t staying.
On one of my last nights there, my friend and I were hanging out in City Park, looking out over the lake and the beautiful mountains behind it. My friend said to me, “Julie, I wish you guys lived here, but at the same time, I wouldn’t ever wish living here on you guys. It’s so hard to be here.”
I know every city has it’s struggles, and maybe deep down, they’re all the same, and as residents, we’re all dealing with the same crap as everyone else, but this was my first time being given eyes to see what is real in my hometown, and that certain things I’d romanticized, even relationships that I’d elevated in my life are not what they have appeared to be.
The upside is that I did get to be with some of my best friends in the world, and I got to hear about the amazing things the Lord is doing in their lives and fellowships, and I am excited that there are pockets of people who are rising above the generic strongholds there. Hearing those stories gave me hope, and those were the moments that I experienced that momentary twinge of “I wish we could be a part of that.”
Kelowna will always be special to me, and as long as there are family and friends there, we will always visit, but that old adage, “You can never go home again,” has really begun to ring true for me. I don’t think I could ever go back there permanently. But then again, what do I know? 😉
How do you feel when you return to your hometown, or to a place you visited frequently as a child? What is the most significant difference you see in those places as an adult verses how you saw things when you were a child?