Colour by Number

I moved to Montréal, Québec 4 years ago after marrying my husband, who is a born and bred Montréalais. I love this city. I love this province. I love this country. I have no regrets in immigrating here.

The hardest part of all this, however, was putting an international border between me and my young adult children. It might not seem like such big deal since we're just a drive away, but what it meant was that we would have to stop and seek permission coming and going from now on to be able to see each other in person. There was something about that, though it’s very unlikely that we would ever be prevented from crossing the border either way, that just feels wrong. We know, hypothetically speaking, we could be denied access.

Having crossed the border from US to Canada and back many times in my life with the kids when they were younger, I never realized this imaginary dividing line would have that kind of effect on me now. Then again, when they were little, I only had to show my driver's licence (and official custody papers if the kids were with me) to cross the border. If, in my memory, it seemed simpler, it’s because it was.

Add to the unpleasantness of crossing a border to see my children, a burgeoning empty nest syndrome. My missing my children’s younger selves swelled into an emotion very akin to grief. Just the sight of a curly-haired little girl with her mother or a wide-eyed little boy hanging on his mother’s arm and smiling from behind her skirt would toss me into a nostalgic longing and choked up with an ache for just one more day with 8 and 6-year-old Josh and Hannah, or 7 and 5, or 6 and 4, or 5 and 3 or…sigh.

Bringing my belongings was a slow, gradual process. I left parts of me, many of my favourite possessions, in various places for safekeeping while I got myself settled into my new surroundings. With each visit back, I returned with a few more parts of myself. Sometimes, I go psychoanalytical and think I did it this way as kind of a way slowly pull away from my children, while they were pulling away from me. It’s this funny thing to need to go in 2 directions as the same time, to stay in the lines, but not to be stifled on a colour by number page.

In the summer of 2015, I finally brought my remaining things left in my father's shed in Maine. I spent that afternoon back going through old boxes. There I was, sitting on the balcony, surrounded by so much of my history in boxes (now out of boxes, dusted off, wiped or sprayed with Lysol-after seeing mice in Dad's shed.) Some of the best things I found needed a good laundering. So, I washed them and hung them in the afternoon sun to dry. How quietly dreamy. How silently surreal. Nothing said. No sentimental tears. Just a lump in my throat while I stood and watched the tiny clothes of my now adult children dancing in the breeze.