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Coming home to Whistler



Of the five weekends I have been out of town this year hanging out in big cities it has snowed in Whistler.

I’m trying not to get too paranoid about it but it seems that each time as I make my way back up the Sea to Sky highway the radio is reporting 15, 20 and even 30 cm of snow on the mountains. And I’ve missed it.

It hardly seems fair considering I was at home almost every weekend this time last year. I was here for the rain to the top of the mountain and the frigid cold afterwards.

All I can hope for now is that I’m not Whistler’s bad omen and that people won’t be looking to run me out of town in the hopes that it will snow again.

Because the thing is – I don’t want to leave.

It takes getting out of town for a while to realize that.

In my recent travels, which have included two weddings, the inevitable small talk question always comes up over a glass of wine as you shift from one foot to another to ease the unfamiliar pain of three inch high heels.

Where are you from?

"I live in Whistler."

Without fail the reaction is the always same – a smile, eyebrows slightly raised, an unconscious look up and down.

Everything they’ve ever heard about Whistler comes flooding back at once – one of the most expensive towns in Canada, a party town for the rich and famous, a place where hedonism is alive and well, where snowboarders are crammed seven to a room. I don’t at first glance seem like a likely candidate for a Whistler local. Sadly, I’m no longer young (I can’t actually believe I just wrote that), I’m not rich and I’m certainly not famous.

And so, their initial query is immediately followed with a question about what I do for a living, what is my job, am I taking a break from the "real world" they wonder, six months to find myself in the mountains snowboarding and partying until I settle down and get serious again.

I tell them my job.

This is met by some confusion. It takes a moment to understand that this is not just a six-month hiatus from the world, that this is what I do.

Whistler is my home I explain.

If the person is a skier, particularly someone who has been to Whistler or knows more about the resort than the sensational media reports, the reaction is a little different. They give you a knowing look, a look that says "you lucky bum, how the hell did you end up living and working in Whistler."

Sometimes I ask myself that same question. How did I end up here? How did I end calling Whistler my home?

Though I’ve lived here for four and a half years now I’ve only recently really started to think about Whistler being my "home." Subconsciously I’ve always called Toronto and my parents place "home" which is strange considering I haven’t actually lived at their home for any real length of time since I was 18 years old.

More recently however I’ve really started thinking of my parents place as a really nice place to visit, a place of endless cups of tea and entirely too much talking!

Perhaps it has something to do with my somewhat new house here in Whistler, which we bought a year ago and is finally now starting to look like a reasonable place to live after a year of never-ending drywall dust. Finally my books and our pictures are out of storage and scattered around the house making it feel that much more homey.

But deep down I think it’s my pending marriage that is making me think of things a little differently.

"Home" was always that place where I would walk in the front door and feel safe and welcomed, a place where I was loved even when I was doing my best to be unlovable. It was a place where I found solace on holidays, taking a respite from the trials and tribulations of university. It was a place where I always had a listening ear, a helping hand, and if I was being really nice, sometimes it was a place where I could get an extra $100 during the lean years!

On Monday afternoon I drove back up to Whistler from a whirlwind trip to Toronto.

I walked in my front door to find my fiancé working on our house and our dog sprawled out on the couch.

He lit a fire. The snow was falling outside, I believe just to spite me. We had a cup of tea before I had to head out to cover a council meeting.

"It’s so nice to finally be home," I told him, though I’d only been gone for five days.

The fact that our home just happens to be in Whistler makes it that much more sweet!