Where the Heart Is: Finally seeing Surrey as home

I have a complicated indifference toward Surrey.

I never gave much thought to the name on the map. I only ever saw Surrey as a place where my house is, where my school was, where the majority of my family lives. Ironically, everything that typically makes a 'home.' Somehow only recently as I have left the city limits, it feels like the lines on the maps have strung together tying me closer to home.

It’s odd because I never wanted to leave home, but I have wanted to leave my hometown for ages.

The lines I pay attention to on maps are the train lines. They connect city to city, person to person and home — well, it allows me to move away from home. I experience the true depth of these train lines on my hour and a half’s journey to UBC, being reminded that I cannot carry everything with me as I move across the map. As I move in the lines I never fail to think of home. At every stop, at every *ding*, at every interruption of my seasonal playlist, I think of home:

*Ding* This is the Expo Line train to… “When did I last see my friends? It’s been too long, we need to meet up soon.”

*Ding* This is the Expo Line train to… “Mama and I gotta go to the shops, we haven’t done that in a bit”

*Ding* This is the Expo Line train to… “I want soup, I’ll make soup for everyone… soon — do I have time?”

*Ding* This is the Expo Line train to…

*Ding* This is the Expo Line train to…

*Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding…*

Surrey never comes to mind.

Nearly everything I love so dearly has been nurtured by Surrey, it has been kept and protected by this place – so how could I have such a lack of care then? How could I be so ungrateful to a place that has contributed to building everything I call home, to a place I should be calling “home” first; to a place I have wanted to leave for so long and yet wish to stay even more?

*Ding, ding, ding* and all these questions I cannot understand.

So, I get off the train, I hop on the bus, I bag a window seat, and sometimes something shifts.

Driving past various parts of Vancouver in an overheated bus that is probably going a touch too fast on the construction-riddled roads, I start missing the name on the map too. I am very aware I do not live that far away, despite people’s shock every time I tell them my commute route. My home is close. In leaving just a smidge beyond the city lines on the map through the train lines that cross it, I begin to see the beauty to be sought in Surrey. I begin to understand that the expansive farmlands, generic suburban grocery stores, South Asian shops dotted between the streets and endless British Columbian seas and skies living in the breath of the city, have quietly lived in my heart because they have kept the people I love and the things I love. And now I’m beginning to leave it.

As I see Vancouver zip past me I understand the tightness of home more than ever. I never want to leave and come back a stranger. You have to leave home to miss home. You have to leave home to appreciate home and know home.

When that bus ride ends and I can finally escape the incessant heat to step off at UBC, I can feel the complicated, indifferent yet passionate, quiet love, I have for home.