Like many recent graduates, I have been at university for the past four months. However, I was in Fredericton, thousands of kilometres away, on the opposite side of the country.
Four whole months. It doesn’t seem like a very long time when you count it out: one, two, three, four … But it feels as though I’ve been away from Maple Ridge for a hundred years.
I love Fredericton, and I love university. But one thing is for sure: there’s no place like home for the holidays.
Yes, that’s right, the holidays have been my homecoming. As I drove from the airport, I felt as though home was coming to me: as I neared the bridge from Port Coquitlam to Pitt Meadows, I was overwhelmed by an almost physical feeling of, well – home.
I came through Pitt Meadows and into Maple Ridge, and as I approached the town centre, I was greeted by bright bells and other holiday decorations and I felt as though could have been driving down the same street in late December, but in my childhood. It wasn’t 2018, almost 2019 anymore. It was timeless.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve been catching up with my connection to Maple Ridge. I caught up with friends, with family, with the land. The mountains have been missing from my life. New Brunswick is beautiful, the Maritimes are beautiful– but there are no mountains there, not mountains like ours. I took a long walk and reacquainted myself with Kanaka Creek. I spent a few minutes standing on Rainbow Bridge, just taking everything in. It’s beautiful here. There is no place I would rather spend my winter holidays.
I stood on that bridge and looked down at the ducks and the salmon, and up at Thornhill, and I knew that Maple Ridge would always be special to me, no matter how much time I spent away from it. The land is beautiful and so are the people.
Each person has places that will always feel eternal. Maple Ridge is one of those places for me. It wasn’t where I was born, it wasn’t even the first place I lived, but I was raised here. I lived in Kanaka and Albion since I was three years old. I remember having my third birthday party at Marina’s Gelato. I can remember when Maple Ridge formally became a city.
Maple Ridge and I have grown up together, come of age together. The sign coming into the city says, “Deeper Roots, Greater Heights.” I never had any idea what that was supposed to mean, and I still don’t know what it was supposed to mean– but it means something to me.
Maple Ridge is a place where I feel deeply rooted, where I am grounded and connected to everything. I cross the city line and something deep in my chest reconnects.
I’ve never been away from that connection for four months before, and this time, that reconnect had an audible click, like a long-distance phone call finally being put through.
I drove downtown in the rain, in the middle of the night, because I’d come in on a late flight, but I felt the click. No matter how much time I spend away, Maple Ridge will always be home.
Marlowe Evans is a student at the University of New Brunswick from Maple Ridge who writes about youth issues.