It’s strange to think this trip is almost over. I still feel like I’ve barely skimmed the surface of this city. But Toronto is home, and I’m excited to go back. I didn’t think I would miss my home so much after only two weeks, but I do. It’s more than the place, the familiar, the little things. It’s more than the bus system, the freedom that comes with my bike, and training at my dojo. It’s the people I miss. Home is where your friends, family, and partner are. It’s where you feel a sense of connection and belonging and a kind of love that I don’t think I’d be able to adequately describe here. It finally hit me a few days ago — this is why people come back to Nola and the St. Bernard Parish. This is home. This is were they feel the most themselves — it’s so deeply connected with their identities. It’s where many of their grandparents and parents grew up, maybe even where they watched their own kids and grandkids grow up. I know some people think it’s odd to keep coming back to a place where severe storms are common, and before this trip — despite what I had read — I sometimes wondered why people would choose to put themselves at risk like this too. But after missing the place I call home, and seeing the smiles of the people whose houses and lives we’ve helped to rebuild, I’m starting to understand.

Lori Dagenais