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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

Atheist Life Hacks: How To Find Home

I always thought my future would be spread haphazardly across this beautiful globe. I thought I’d live out of suitcases and sail from port to port, exploring our world. I have always had an insatiable wanderlust, bubbling just beneath the surface, ready to boil over at any moment. When I see pictures of Europe or Australia or South America, my heart pounds and my chest gets tight and I want to reach out and be there. I want to experience it.

Me, 8, in Moorea, French Polynesia.

It happened sometime between the age of two weeks old and fifteen years. During this period of my life, I found myself in over 15 countries, dozens of states and provinces and spent a great deal of that time getting from one place to the next. The word “home” became unclear. When we arrived back in Canada for good, I quickly became restless. The dull, grey wet of Richmond, B.C. tortured me into full-blown hatred. The same old streets. The same old people. The same old traffic, expenses and incessant rain. It was killing me and I had to get out.

As an adult, I managed to calm the constant burn of my wanderlust with road trips to California, camping trips into the interior of B.C. I made it to Thailand and hopped down to Mexico a couple of times. After each trip, my unquenchable desire to travel would get quiet for a few weeks, when the familiar pull of other places would once again bubble up and interrupt my every thought.

I bounced around from rental to rental, no place ever really feeling like home. Richmond was clearly not home for me anymore, but I had no idea where “home” was exactly. In fact, I hadn’t really felt “home” since my parents sold the house I grew up in when I was 10.

I told my friends and family that I wanted to buy a sailboat and live on it, and that would be “home”. I’d be married on it and raise kids on it and educate them on world travel and exploration as we bounced from one stop to the next. I told them I hated life in Canada and I would never live out the rest of my years there, under any circumstances. Canada was no longer my home. I told them I needed warm climates, less rain and vast new lands to explore to be happy.

My parents and my brother felt the same way. You can only travel the world for so long before it becomes your norm and, like some sharks, if you stop moving, you die. So we moved to Mexico. All of us.

I loved it. I relished the heat and the beaches. I rode my bike through town, grinning from ear to ear. There was so much to explore, so many new places and people and cultures. I was fulfilled… but it still didn’t feel like home.

After my son was born, life in Mexico became difficult. We lived in a party town and our online work was suffering from the financial crisis in the U.S. so, shortly after my little guy turned one, we moved back to Canada.

We moved to Whalley, in Surrey, B.C. to be exact. For those who are not in the know, Whalley is like Surrey’s skid row. There are addicts begging for change and sex workers dotting the streets at night. Sirens never stop and the homeless population is out of control. At least, that’s how it was when we lived there, though a concerted effort has been made to clean the area up since then.

To me, though, it was new and it made me happy, but it still did not feel like “home”. I began to accept the idea that I may never feel like I have a home again. That my restlessness would condemn my family to a life of bouncing from one place to the next. I couldn’t seem to feel content in any place we ended up. We moved back to Richmond from Whalley and from Richmond to Delta and I felt like it would just never end. Our trail would never come to a head; we would never arrive home.

One day, in the midst of another move, I found out I won a trip for two to Kelowna, B.C. Kelowna was only four hours away and I’d been there dozens of times before, but Godless Dad and I graciously accepted the trip and made our way out there during a cold and wet January on the coast.

Winter in the Okanagan

When I woke up a few hours after arriving the night before, I looked out our hotel room window and I felt a wave of warmth flow through my body. I was looking out at the sun shining down on Okanagan Lake, the hills rising up behind it, all dusted with just a touch of snow and I stepped back and gasped. It was beautiful. I had to get out there and see it.

I jumped on the bed and woke up Godless Dad. We skipped breakfast to go walk along the lakeside and take it all in. The snow swirled at our feet as we walked past an outdoor ice rink, listening to the kids giggle and play and I could hardly contain the beauty I was surrounded by.

I realized I had never been to the Okanagan in the winter, only in the heat of the summer which went well into the high 30s, sometimes 40s (Celsius). I had this idea in my mind that winter meant wet and soggy and uncomfortably cold and grey. It was a time to stay inside. But here I was in Kelowna, in minus 4-degree weather, walking through dry, dusty snow and it felt warmer than 4 above in wet and grey Vancouver. People were outside and enjoying it. Kids were playing, couples walking hand in hand. And the sky was blue!


We packed up all our stuff and moved there the following winter. There’s a spot on the road to the Okanagan, where suddenly the lake comes into view. You come around the corner, and there it is in all its glory, hugged by the snow-dusted hills, reflecting the attentive Okanagan sun. As we drove around that corner, Blue Rodeo flowed from our speakers, “Hey, Hey I guess it hasn’t hit me yet…” and that’s when it hit me. That long lost feeling I thought I’d never know again. The feeling I’d given up on long ago. The feeling that I had finally arrived home. Four years later, I am still as in love with Summerland as I ever was. I’m home.

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I'm finally home

My view as I type this.


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