Posts Tagged “travel”

Home is Home

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.

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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.

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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.

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365 Days

365 Days

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June 17, 2016

Yesterday was my one year anniversary with Europe. It feels incredible and strange and unbelievable all at the same time. I remember the day I left so well, not just because I wrote it down, but because I don’t think it’s possible to forget something so significant. I remember the toilet flooded and how the morning was spent trying to soak up all the water from the floor with towels. I remember I ate a leftover sausage for lunch and how I sat outside on the new deck, wishing I could sit there a little longer. And I remember driving away from home, wanting to cry and trying not to.

365 days is a long time. It’s been 365 days since I hugged my mom. 365 days since I got a good-morning kiss on my head from my dad. 365 since I held my grandma’s hand or sat in the car with my sisters. 365 days.

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On day number 1, when I arrived in Berlin and settled down in my bed for my first sleep away from home, I could never have predicted how day number 365 would feel waking up in my bed in Paris. I just looked through some photos — all of the things that I’ve seen and done — and smells came back to me, and feelings rushed upon me, and for the first time in my life, I felt wiser. I have been waiting, seemingly forever, for a growth spurt, and I think I finally got it. It didn’t come in gaining height as I imagined it would – it came in gaining wisdom and in gaining experience. Thinking back to every moment where I stood completely lost, or lonely, or scared, dragging around a suitcase that was too heavy for me, surrounded by people I didn’t know speaking languages I didn’t understand, I realize that all those moments in which I felt that I was made too small for this world, I really wasn’t. Well, maybe I was made a little too small, but that was probably only so that I had a reason to grow. Now that I’ve had my growth spurt, I think I’m just the right size.

I know the world is far from perfect, but I still believe that it’s good and I still love it, and I fall a little bit more in love with it each passing day.

I have missed birthdays, and Christmas, milestones and little, every day moments, but I knew I would be sacrificing those things when I signed up for this.  I keep looking back to the last picture I took with my family. My hair is longer now and my denim top has two holes in the elbows which means I should probably throw it out, but I know the real change in me is invisible to the naked eye.  People always say you are supposed to do the thing that scares you. Sometimes I don’t understand why I’ve been so afraid of change — I would be more disappointed in myself right now if I hadn’t changed. Yes, I am grateful that in 365 days the world has changed me — for the better – and I hope that one day, I’ll be able to repay the favour and somehow change the world.

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Europe, Life ,

Sacre-Coeur, Swedes, and a Win!

Sacre-Coeur, Swedes, and a Win!

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June 15, 2016
The Steps of Sacre-Coeur 

I just walked from the Arc de Triomphe to Sacre Coeur and it’s sunny (hot!) but with a chance of rain.  I visited the church and am now sitting on the steps, overlooking the magnificent view of Paris. As soon as I arrived in Montmartre and saw the art displayed in the windows, smelt the sweet, sweet smell wafting out of every Boulangerie, and heard the waiters inviting me in for a drink, my love for Paris was rekindled. I did a full circle around all the artists set up and admired all the different depictions of Paris and wished that I was wealthy enough to buy all of them. Then I saw a white building with this beautiful rainbow of pink flowers, and I walked down to the view of the Eiffel Tower, and I remembered how when I was here last September, I heard a woman singing “La Vie en Rose” and decided that I would live in Paris one day.

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There is no other city in the world like Paris – none. Every day I look about me and feel so lucky that these are the streets I’ve gotten to know – really know – not just pass through. I can come sit by the Sacre Coeur at my leisure and see the Eiffel Tower every day, and watch the roses bloom. I can drink wine and eat cheese and I’m 24, and I have hazel eyes, and I love my mom, and I wrote a book, and I’m writing another one, and the sun is shining. If there ever comes a day when I feel that life is being unfair to me, I will think about this period in my life and remember how good life has been to me.

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Later – 17:13 

A man named Mario has started singing and everyone is singing along.  There are a group of very popular Swedish boys sitting to my left – everyone is talking to them. One lady even took a picture with them.  It’s actually highly entertaining – and with the sun beating down on my neck, I’m feeling very happy. Now the Swedes keep requesting “No Woman, No Cry.” OMG – a drunk guy just went up to the mic and started singing”Money, Money, Money” for the Swedes – they laughed! (I did too). The drunk guy has now proceeded to provide harmony for “Hotel California” and he’s not even half bad. I’m dying!!

The singing is now over.  Mario finished with “Imagine” and “Hey Jude” and everyone was singing along to the “Na na na na” part. “This is pretty cool,” said Mario. “We have young people, old people – really old people – and we’re from all over the world and we don’t speak the same language, but we’re sitting in front of Paris singing together. Enjoy it, people.” Then one of the Swedes started clapping and everybody joined in. It was so special – I’m so glad I stayed!

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Much Later – 

I went to an Irish pub called O’Sullivans to watch the France vs Albania football game.  I don’t think I’ve ever watched a full soccer game in my life but now I am officially a fan – it was so exciting! Though apart from the two goals scored at the end, my favourite part was during the National Anthem because everyone in the bar was singing his little heart out (except for me because I didn’t know any of the words so I tried to blend into the corner and be invisible.  I was also alone, so it was pretty easy to go unnoticed). Even though I’m not French, I felt a strange sense of nationalistic pride.  Throughout the game, there were cries of “Allez! Allez! Allez!” echoing throughout the room.  With all the noise and commotion, I thought they were yelling “Allah” at first, but “Allez” makes more sense.  When France finally scored, it was such a happy moment. Everyone was yelling and hugging and these guys stood in front of the big screen and started dancing.  The celebration was even bigger for the second goal.

Initially I was unsure if I wanted to go watch the game at a pub since I had no one to go with but I really wanted to soak up the atmosphere and I’m glad I decided to go anyway.  Thankfully the bar tender spoke English (I admit, I chose an Irish pub for this reason) and I embarrassed myself by pouring my beer into my glass so that it was 3/4 full of white foam.  “Nice pouring job,” he said to me as I waited for the foam to die down.  Then I took my beer and found a corner (actually a perfect spot with a backrest and a ledge so I could see the screen perfectly without all these bodies blocking my view) and basically didn’t talk to anybody the rest of the night because all I could hear around me was french and my brain was tired.

Then I walked to the bus station and everybody was still out celebrating and the Eiffel Tower was lit up in the blue, white, and red – Vive La France!

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