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The Ruttle Report - Memories of home are good and plentiful

I loved where I grew up, but life just has to move on for everyone.
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For the most part, I'd say that Brendon and I are pretty well moved in over here in Outlook at our apartment.

I mean, sure, there's the odd trip back to the house in Conquest for this or that, but at this point it's safe to say that we're all moved out.

It's been about a week and change or so, but I guess that I'm still getting used to the break in my routine. See, the routine used to go as such:

Finish work at 4:30.
Kill time for half an hour.
Pick Brendon up from his work at 5:00.
Drive home to Conquest.

But now, there really is no routine. I don't have to go and pick him up anymore as he's got his bike over here and he enjoys riding that to and from work. When 4:30 arrives at my office, I can just, you know, go home, I guess. It just feels different, and I'm just not used to not having that same feeling anymore. This 'break' is still going to take some getting used to, in my book.

And since we're now moved over to Outlook, I can't help but look back on all the memories that I have of good old Conquest. I know that it must seem a little bit strange to be talking about a little town that's just 10-12 minutes away on the other side of the South Saskatchewan River. But it's so much more than that, you know? Sure, Outlook's always been close and it's been the town where I and countless others went to school, and it's been the town where I've worked for over 15 years, but actually taking the plunge and moving over here just has a different feel to it. A different rhyme, I guess.

Let's be honest here, too. I think that even if you were simply moving to another house or location within the same town or community, you'd have the same kind of feelings that I'm going through. That's because outside of the memories you may have of the town you grew up in, you have more memories of the home that you lived in. You see what I mean? That's very much the case with the house in Conquest. Our family moved in there in 1988, and aside from the eight months I spent out in Victoria from 2005/2006 going to film school, that house in Conquest was always my home, and that home was nestled smack dab in the middle of a place that holds so many cherished memories for me.

I remember hanging out with my friends, biking around town and seeing what kind of trouble we could stir up. Hey, we were small towners, we had to make our own fun. We hung out at the Elks Park, or else we biked around the track located behind it. There was also the old Pioneer elevator, where my dad worked for 28 years. That was always a good hangout spot, and I can remember looking up and seeing the brightest full moons on some nights and a sky full of stars on others. On some nights, we just watched the sky and didn't say a word. The low winds would kick up on the grass and we'd just watch it all unfold above our heads.

I remember epic nights down at the Conquest rink during some legendary Merchants games. That familiar waft of the kitchen that hit your nostrils as soon as you entered the building, bringing together images of mouth-watering burgers (my mom's recipe!), onion rings and chicken fingers to your head. The smells of coffee, the sounds of anticipation, the roar of the crowd on every Conquest goal; that was basically the soundtrack to life in Conquest in the winter.

I remember the freedoms that we had as kids growing up in the 90's. Get home from school, make sure you've got no homework, eat supper, then call your friends for a meetup at that go-to place where you always met before. The night is yours! See ya, Mom and Dad! I'm so happy that I grew up in those years before technology basically took over and inspired parents to become watchdogs. There were certain things done in those years that wouldn't fly in 2022, I'll leave it at that.

I remember so many joyful and happy moments in that house growing up. There were so many fun nights spent around the bonfire in the backyard, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and Mom inviting the neighbours over for a cup of coffee. Or so many birthday parties for any of us three Ruttle kids in which all the Conquest kids would come over to the house for a big party, including multiple parents. Or family reunions on either the Ruttle or Dallas side in which the backyard would become full of every kind of aunt, uncle, and cousin from here, there and everywhere else. Or the thousand or so Christmas memories that hold so dear to my heart; Dad spoiling a gift that would be coming in the mail for me because I didn't have anything to open from a relative one year, or the year that I got my drum set, or the year that the Ruttle kids got a Nintendo, or the year that we made Mom's dream come true and packed everything up and headed to Candle Lake.

I have so, so, so many memories in that house. But if I'm being perhaps brutally honest, that's all that the building has become in my eyes and in my heart - a place that holds memories. When Mom died in March 2021, that for me was the cutoff point; a time when the house I grew up in became just another house. It was my mother's home, and my mother isn't here anymore. Sure, I like to think that we all contributed to the household, but at the end of the day, it was Lynda Ruttle's home and she was absolutely welcome to do whatever she liked with it.

I will carry the memories that I made in that house with me wherever I go in my life. They're memories that I hold dear and helped shape me into the person that I am today. But on the flip side of that coin, in the aftermath of my mom's passing early last year, it was apparent to me almost right away that I had to get out of there. It just wasn't doing anything good to me from both a mental and emotional standpoint.

I loved Conquest. I loved that house. But it was the people who were once here that made it all what it once was.

At least I'll have the memories.

For this week, that's been the Ruttle Report.