John’s folks came up to visit last week, which was really wonderful (I’ll have some photos and stories to share soon). In a little over a month my parents came to visit AND John’s parents came to visit. This is one of the many perks to living back in Canada again after traipsing about overseas for just under a decade. Family. Seeing each other more than once a year. Eating breakfast together. Speaking at normal times on the phone without having to continually calculate timezones. Meeting at random times of the year rather than only during the hectic days tagged onto the beginning and end of a holiday. It’s nice.
There was a time when I didn’t ever think I would move back to Canada. It had nothing to do with not wanting to be here, or even preferring a far away country. I had just grown accustomed to packing my suitcase and starting over somewhere. Making new friends. Saving up for Christmas flights with family. Learning busy, dirty subway systems. Finding friendly hairdressers who didn’t butcher my hair.
My dad asked me once in the midst of my travels (my search?) if I ever got tired of living out of a suitcase. At first the question honestly confused me. There had been a suitcase stacked in a corner within reach, a stardard furniture/decor item wherever my temporary home was, for years. As alien as it sounds now, it didn’t occur to me to set roots in any of these places.
For almost 10 years I spent each month knowing I would likely move in a few months more. As I read that sentence back it sounds achingly romantic/lonely/adventurous, but between trips to the post office to ship boxes and to government buildings to decypher residence papers and airports to step above the clouds… it was just familiar. Interesting? Yes. Important? Definitely. But familiar… and safe.
Starting over I could handle. The logistics of staying in one place scared the shit out of me.
When John and I first moved to the island we now call our home I felt… happy to be closer to family and on a new adventure with my fiance… but also lonely… claustrophobic… incredibly ordinary.
Lonely- because here I was in the province I was born in, but aside from my hubby-to-be I didn’t have any close friends to call for a walk or a glass of wine.
Claustrophobic- because even though I didn’t know the residents of my new home personally, I had lived in large cities since I was 18 years old and wasn’t used to seeing the faces of people I didn’t know but recognized. I was standing in line at the grocery store with the guy who served me my latte that morning. The woman from the bookstore was now walking towards me in the street.
Ordinary- because for years being a foreigner made me interesting. For 10 years I had an accent, or I looked different from everyone else, or upon saying where I was from locals cooed, “Oooh we love Canadians.” I stood out. Just by showing up I was novel.
The second I handed my passport over for inspection at Canadian Immigration at 2 o’clock on a damp Tuesday morning in February, so much of how I identified myself dissolved.
That was 3 1/2 years ago. In that time I moved in with my fiance, married him, bought a house and a car, welcomed two dogs into the family, got a job, got a different job… and I’ve seen my family, both sides, more times that I can count. And I’ve made friends. And I smile at the faces of people I don’t know but recognize. I’m forgetting the itch and panic I used to feel when there wasn’t enough “new” and the need to Change got me crawling websites for plane tickets and packing my bags.
And I’m remembering more and more that what makes me valuable isn’t my passport, or having an accent, or being temporary. In fact I’m losing my preoccupation with needing to be perceived as valuable and thinking more about just… being, I guess. I still feel lonely sometimes. I’m still adjusting to being a wife/family member/home owner/dog mom/business person/island resident/local/individual… and often I don’t execute many of those roles quite right. But I’m doing okay.
I like looking up and seeing Kayloo silhouetted against an afternoon sun. And seeing my families in the Fall, laughing over dinner and reaching the top of the mountain. Together.