There are some things in life that make us feel like were home. Perhaps it’s the smell of your mother’s home cooking or the sight of your old neighbourhood. For me, on this particular day, it was the sound of voices I had not heard in forty-eight years.
There are a lot of negative aspects to social media. I’m not going to argue against those. However, I’m definitely going to argue that social media can also be a place for good. Since I first entered the social media world back in 2007 I’ve always focused on the positive side. I view it as an opportunity be part of a movement of people advocating for making the world better. I also see it as a way of connecting with family and friends. Recently I joined a Facebook group for my elementary school, Ecole Notre-Dame. It’s been great sharing old class pictures and reconnecting with old friends.
A few months ago, during lockdown, a handful of us from my class started getting together on Zoom. It was great reminiscing with schoolmates I had not seen in decades. There was a deep sense of connection from the moment we started the video meetings. Three of them had remained friends over the years. I had one friend from my class I had remained close friends with. Other than a few minor interactions with a couple of them in my late teen years, I had not seen or spoken with them since our grade eight graduation.
Thankfully the lockdown ended and we were able to have an in-person reunion when we gathered for a barbeque. I put together a trivia game based on stories from our shared school years. We laughed. And we laughed some more.
Around midnight my friends headed home. It had been a memorable day.
As we gathered during the day to reminisce it hit me that their voices, though I had not heard them in decades, were so familiar to me. It’s as if I had been hearing them all this time.
Their voices, their smiles, their laughter warmed my heart.
I’ve always worked hard at appreciating the blessings in my life. On this day I felt a connection to my old classmates that reached into the core of my being.
I was home.
That may sound strange to some. But for me, coming home to these friends was important. I didn’t set out to “come home”. It just happened.
I started to think about why I felt this way. I realized it had to do with the special bond our time at school created. We were in the same classes from kindergarten through grade eight. These are formative years in a person’s life. But there was more than that bonding us. We had another shared experience. We were all part of the French-Canadian community in an anglophone city in the midst of a time when tensions between French-Canadians and the rest of Canada were high. Our time together as schoolmates at the height of the times that led to, and after, the FLQ Crisis had a significant impact on our lives. We don’t experience such tensions between the French-Canadian community and the rest of Canada today, but in those years, it was all too real. I was on the receiving end of the ethnic slurs against us. I recall us pushing back by appropriating one of those slurs by claiming Frog Power. Frog Power had been a galvanizing element that encouraged thousands to fill the large city arena for the big game when our school hockey team went on to win the city championship.
As students we were bused in from all parts of the city to the only French-Canadian school, one our parents and leaders had fought hard to establish. We were part of the inaugural years. We all had our neighbourhood friends, but at school we were united as French-Canadians, not just classmates.
When it was time to go on to high school, for a myriad of reasons my closest friends and I chose to go to our local high schools rather than go to the only high school that offered a French program that would give us an opportunity continue our education in French. An official French-Canadian school had yet to be established. The majority of my classmates did choose to go to the high school that offered the French program. In their second year there the French high school, George P. Vanier, was established from within this program. I considered returning to join my classmates at that time, but unfortunately, I didn’t carry through with it.
Years later I regretted not rejoining my elementary school friends.
When I was able to hear their voices again I was home.
I missed them.