What is the difference between a house and a home? A quick glance at any dictionary suggests that the two words can be used interchangeably. And while this is technically correct, I can’t help but feel that these terms describe concepts that are at their core different. To me, a house is a concrete structure, a roof over my head that at minimum satisfies my biological urge to find refuge and thus avoid the dangers of the outside world. A house is where I sleep and where I store those possessions I cannot carry, whereas as a home to me refers to an emotional state, a sense of love and belonging that permeates a particular physical space because of the many important and positive memories one has attached to it. With this distinction in mind, let me end this first paragraph by stating that after living in Prince George for one and a half years, I can honestly and proudly say that Prince George is my home.
Arriving in Prince George
This wasn’t always the case of course. When I first entered my apartment in the College Heights neighbourhood, I was exhausted. It was late in the day, close to midnight, and the only furnishing I had was a rolled-up mattress I had ordered previously through the internet and had delivered to arrive before I did. I remember taking the mattress out of its packaging (how they stuff these things in there I will never know) and watching it expand quickly before collapsing to the ground. Without sheets or pillows, I tossed myself on it and improvised a blanket from an assortment of clothes in my suitcase. I cut a pathetic figure, alone, wondering what on earth I had done moving from Texas to a town in North Central British Columbia with my wife and two young children.
Feeling at home in nature
But very quickly I tell you, my mood altered, not only because of the natural beauty of the surrounding land, but more importantly because of the amazing generosity and friendliness that locals showed me. People I met at work swiftly integrated me into their social circles. They invited me into their homes for dinner and coffee. People were interested in getting to know me, learning about my background, and providing advice about how to find happiness in the community. One of my favourite earliest memories of Prince George involved a walk through the woods of Cottonwood Island Nature Park with my good friend Lisa. If you get the chance, follow the trails along the banks of the Nechako River and pay close attention to the trees where you’re likely to see one of many impressive carvings created by local artist Elmer Gunderson. Lisa also introduced me to LC Gunn Park where one can easily access a beautiful vista of downtown Prince George.
Discovering the local food scene
But the amenities of Prince George go beyond nature. They also include a thriving indie food scene. With friends, I visited a number of local spots and treated my taste buds to a variety of delicious meals. If you like Italian, you can’t go wrong with Cimo Mediterranean Grill (I highly recommend their Chorizo Penne, a pasta dish that combines spicy Italian sausage with a rich chili-spiced tomato sauce). Barring that, I suggest you become friends with the owners of the College Heights Veterinary Clinic. They have a wood-burning oven in their backyard where my friend Ricardo cranks out an array of bread-based treats. How do I know this? I was introduced to them through a friend of a friend who knew we shared a common cultural heritage (our families have roots in Argentina). As a result, I now have a reliable supply to free restaurant-quality pizzas and Mendoza-style empanadas. I know it’s not always healthy to equate food with happiness, but having access to good food sure helps.
Giving back to the community
But for me, one of the highlights of the year has to be the annual Spring Arts Bazaar & Chili Cookoff when various non-profit organizations form teams and compete to see which can produce the best possible chili. Members of the public purchase handmade clay bowls created by local artists, which in turn grant them access to sample the variety of chilis on offer and the opportunity to vote for their favourite meaty creation via secret ballot. Funds collected through the event go to support the Community Arts Council and the Prince George Potters’ Guild. It was my honour to represent the Friends of the Prince George Public Library and submit my interpretation of a classic Texas dish, Frito Pie, which I’m happy to say stole the show. Yours truly has bragging rights until at least next June when the event takes place again. Be sure to visit our booth. I’ll be happy to introduce myself and let you know why you should give Prince George a shot at being your next home. You won’t regret it.
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