Sept 22, 2016
I’m home. In fact, I’ve been home for almost one month now. People keep asking me if I’m settled. Yes, I’m settled. The adjustment period actually wasn’t that bad. Home is home. I’ve lived here for 23 years and 14 months away is not enough time to wipe out my memory. Though certainly some things that used to be second-nature now seem undeniably strange to me. Were our toonies always so thin? Why do we eat dinner so early? You mean I have to start calling it the “skytrain” instead of the metro again? I completely forgot about the colour of Canadian bills (the $20 bill looked an unnaturally vivid shade of green to me when I first saw it). I JUST got used to calling money “euros” and now I have to start calling it “dollars” again. The knob on my shower felt strange too. So did opening our front door. (We got a new knob while I was away). We actually got a few new things while I was away. Items were rearranged and replaced. I kept discovering them with time and each time I exclaimed “Oh! This is new!”I was told that actually it was already considered old.
During my first couple nights at home, I would wake up at 4:01 (on the dot) and be starving. So I would creep down to the kitchen and eat a Portuguese cake. The very first morning that I woke up in my bed, I had a mild panic attack and had to blink several times trying to decipher where I was. I also had to open up a few cupboards in the kitchen until I found what I was looking for. Now it feels like I never even left. If it were not for my art work hanging on the wall directly opposite my bed, reminding me that I did go to all these places, I probably would never believe it happened.
I still dream about Europe constantly. Some days I can’t even look at photos from my trip or listen to certain songs without feeling a physical pain in my heart. There’s an intense longing or pull. It sort of feels like I scattered my heart all over the continent, leaving little pieces here and there and so in a way, it feels like my heart is broken. It feels like it’s come back not quite whole. Rakel told me it’s Europe homesickness. She said it’s normal I should feel homesickness for Europe instead of for Canada because I always knew I would come back to Canada but I don’t know when I’ll go back to Europe. I guess that makes sense.
Since I’ve been home, I’ve gone on a few hikes, went to the cottage (and fell completely in love with it), had a wisdom tooth pulled, got told by the eye doctor that I have to wear glasses for at least two months because my eyes don’t look 24 years old (I blame the dry weather and smoky atmosphere of Europe), and applied for some jobs. The first commute back to work was a rather depressing one because the weather was rainy and I was surrounded by a lot of sorry looking people. It made me sad because I couldn’t even be bothered to look out the window. In Europe, the dirtiest street was spectacular to me. I could never stop looking out the window. Now I’m back to reading other people’s stories on buses again instead of living my own. That’s a big exaggeration but do you know what I mean? It just felt sad to be sitting in Vancouver reading a book set in Paris and wishing I was there instead.
I want to feel excited about Vancouver again. On the plane ride home (which was long and horrible because they didn’t offer free food or in-flight entertainment) I kept waiting for that moment of uncontrollable excitement. Mostly, I just felt dazed (it was a collective 19 hour journey from Athens to Malta to London to Home) and I was sleep-deprived and hungry. I made friends with the Irish guy sitting next to me and we kept ourselves entertained by playing word games while his friends behind us played Monopoly. (Oh, old fashioned fun!) Anyway, it was ironic that he was at the very beginning of his 2 year adventure and I was at the end of mine. What a mysterious world we live in. My moment of uncontrollable excitement came when we were landing and all I saw was mountains — so many mountains! — and then I realized I was only a few minutes away from being reunited with my family. Luckily I didn’t have to wait around for my luggage because they were able to send it directly home. I sped-walked to the arrivals. We had a family dinner that night. I went to pick up Omi from her new place and when I met her at the door, her eyes opened in disbelief and then she hugged me with trembling hands and started crying and then I started crying a bit too.
I do love home. I do. But I’m 24 years old and I don’t want to live at home anymore. Especially not now that I’ve had my first real taste of independence. No actually, not just a taste: a whole feast of independence. I’m not sure what will happen with my dreams to see Asia and South America. I guess we’ll see. Some parts about being home are wonderful. I like having proper meals again. I like having my bookshelf again. I like laughing with Krystyna so hard that my mom tell us too much silliness is going on but we keep on laughing anyway. Yes, I do love home. I just think I’ve grown a lot this year and maybe I don’t quite fit here anymore.
You know, I was looking out my bedroom window and I saw the familiar, old, black crow on the tree. He’s still there…old faithful.
It’s the first day of fall today. Today is actually pretty hot too — I was sitting outside wearing a tank top. I’m glad it’s sunny now because during my first week back, it rained every day. You have no idea how depressing that was to return to after eternal sunshine in Greece. I’m excited for a crisp fall this year. Last year in November, I was still wearing short sleeves to the park so I’m rather looking forward to sweaters and golden leaves. It’s funny…I used to be so afraid of change. Now I’m looking forward to it. I think that’s the best way to illustrate how much I’ve grown.