five and six way back in the day
one of the agents in my office has a daughter who recently bought a home in waterdown, ontario, a few kilometers away from where my mom lives. actually, i more or less grew up in waterdown even though i never actually lived there. my mom was raised there and her father was one of the only two police officers the small village had while she was growing up, and her connections to the town never faded away. her high school was torn down to make room for condos and the fields where she used to lie down and watch fireworks became complex twists of tree-lined, suburban streets.yet she kept our family doctor there, we did our grocery shopping there, we got DQ there and we went to memorial park, without fail, every year to watch the victoria day sky magic.
i’ve lived in something like 15 houses and apartments throughout my life, and none of them have been in waterdown, but for some reason my most vivid childhood memories take me back there. my earliest experiences of teenage rebellion (think: 12, 13, 14) involved that safe little town in the middle of the night. i had to move on to the city for any real teenage fun, but waterdown held its own and was a good staging ground for what would later come to be :)
back in the day there weren’t any cement slab plants or industrial parks in our backyard. there were endless fields and flat miles of tan rock lying alongside the trickle of a creek that branched off from somewhere along the escarpment. there were tunnels under highways, and the roar of 18-wheelers overhead is one of the sounds that resonates in my memory. no one worried that we’d get lost out there, or hurt, or that we’d manage to kill ourselves walking along the highway into town. we just went.
hwy #6 southbound down the cut
i love ottawa, but there’s something to be said for the tangled industrial-countryside web that makes up hamilton. even when you’re out in the middle of nowhere out there, you’re still connected to what that city is. grit lit, doors in the core. people i’ve met in ottawa have told me they’ve driven through hamilton and never wanted to stay. i don’t know about that. there’s something about it. when i was there, i did want to get out. but that’s its charm, i think.
that’s what keeps us there and that’s what brings us back.