I’ve been home from my overseas trip for a week now and I haven’t really stopped moving. Seeing all my friends again has been awesome, and I’m so happy to have more than four shirts to choose from. I have my beautiful car again, and my pillowtop queen is more welcoming than all of the eighty-some beds I toured abroad, combined.
But I have to say I don’t really feel home yet.
Right now, Canada feels foreign to me compared to New Zealand. I fumble with our slender coins when I’m paying for things, I forget that sales tax isn’t included, and I bump into people because I’m always walking on the left-hand side of sidewalks and hallways. I lose track of my possessions because I no longer have to collect them all into my backpack every few days.
I’m noticing a real difference in the behavior of people in public here too. There is a certain North American aloofness that I never really noticed before. People seem to be less comfortable engaging with strangers than back in Oz or NZ. They just want to go about their business unbothered. Most clerks don’t smile or (really) look at you. People drive slower and more relaxedly here, but at the same time they seem to be less aware of what’s around them.
I don’t mean any of this to be criticism — after all, while away I learned that Canada is definitely where I want to live most of my life — only comparisons I can’t help but make after looking at the planet from two very different angles.
Last post I reported a laptop catastrophe that may have cost me nearly all of my photos. Even though the laptop didn’t make it, I was able to recover all the files, fortunately. Once I got the pictures back I was surprised to find that I’m a little hesitant to share them with people. I guess my reluctance is because I don’t think the photos are capable of conveying the full gravity of such a trip. They’re pictures of pretty places I’ve been, but nobody will understand what those places made me feel when I was there. I had such a profound experience abroad that I was really eager to share it when I got home, only to realize that it cannot be shared at all. The trip itself is over and cannot be revisited by me or anyone else. I guess that caught me off guard.
I am really tired. My jet lag was severe. After a week, I still find myself reaching my peak alertness at about 2am, and during the day my disposition ranges from cranky-pants to full-on zombie. Just yesterday it was starting to lift, but a late wedding reception last night has me feeling a real deficit today. Even my dreams have been weird. They’re full of deceitful strangers, lost possessions and missed deadlines.
I’m not at the top of my game in any department right now. I’m sure my fatigue has something to do with it, but conversations require a lot more energy from me these days. I lose the point easily. I haven’t been smiling as much.
And because I will need to stay with family until I get my own apartment — which requires that I get my last ever job in order to be approved for a lease — I have also temporarily lost my independence, and that’s really getting me down.
So my mind is still quite scattered and things feel unsettled. This week has been a flurry of visits, parties and errands, and I’ve been deferring some of my regular obligations until a routine emerges. Experiment 7 is still on hold. I haven’t written all week. I haven’t even done a load of laundry yet, or even properly unpacked.
Whoever said, “You can’t go home again” was right. Nothing has really changed here in Winnipeg, but it is striking me as a completely different place than I remember. Things will undoubtedly settle down soon, but at the moment I feel quite a bit less “at home” than I have at any time since I first arrived in New Zealand last November. “Home” isn’t a place, it’s a feeling. And I’m not there right now.
Other than seeing my friends again, stability was what I was most looking forward to whenever I thought about my return. More than anything, I fantasized about plunging back into the blogging world, suddenly free of spotty internet and the perpetual lack of privacy I experienced living in hostels. But it will take a while before “stable” is a decent way to describe my living situation.
I picked up loads of new readers while I was away, and I’m happy to have you all here. I hope you will bear with me while I make myself at home.
Photo by Flowery Luza
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