reaching the top of the mountain

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.

23 Responses to “reaching the top of the mountain”

  1. I think this is the best post you’ve written (so far).

  2. SkyeHeather says:

    What’s amazing is that so many people (myself included) tune in every day to read about your life– not the globe-trotting, performing, whirlwind life, but your life today. You make the “ordinary” extraordinary by the way you view the world.

  3. Kari says:

    I live the same life for a while. I now really do live out of a suitcase. Its a constant in my life. I find it weird not to only have a weeks worth of clothing accessible to me at any time.

    Kari
    http://dogisgodinreverse.com/

  4. Kristine says:

    Honestly, I’m pretty envious of your past. That’s the life I’ve always wanted to lead. Unfortunately, it just didn’t happen. I’m still not sure I’ve gotten over that.

    You have given me a lot to think about.

  5. I love this.

    For so many reasons.

  6. @Kari- With my first “corporate” job I travelled enough that I always had a bag partially packed. Weird thing, that! I hope you are enjoying your travels!

  7. Collin says:

    Very well said… and resonates a bit over here. Look forward to reading more of your blog. 🙂

  8. Kim says:

    Having read about your life in the last couple of months I admittedly have felt envious at times. To have explored all of those different countries for so long can, I imagine, only enhance your own life perspective and give you an understanding of the differences in people that most will never have. I have been to two other countries in my life but nothing compared to your journeys. Having said that, I do feel much comfort in the familiarity of my surroundings and I treasure the people in my life who are constant. I agree, I think this is one of your best posts yet.

  9. I thought this was a really good post. I agree with Skye…who was able to say this so much better than me.

  10. Tawny says:

    I really love your posts. The pictures are great, your writing is beautiful. You’re one of the few bloggers whose posts I get into, not just skim through!

  11. @Kristine- Thank you for your comment! I find myself envious of people and their lives too- I’d love to think of myself as more zen than that… but that is where I am right now I guess.

    We’ll get there 😉

    Thank you again 🙂

  12. @Ashley- Thank you so much!

  13. @Collin! Thank you so much for your comment! I look forward to catching up on your latest adventures! Thank you! 🙂

  14. @Kim- Thank you for your comment! I think one of the most interesting things I learned (and continue to learn) is how, at the base of it, we’re all actually incredibly similar. We all try to get basically the same info across, we just do it in very different ways.

    I think there are things that people who travel learn, and there are things people who master every face, street and season change of their hometown learn… I think there is a lot of overlap between the two and many things we can learn from each other.

    Whoops! Getting a bit heavy on ya there, sorry 🙂

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post 🙂

  15. @Two- I really appreciate that, thank you!

  16. @Tawny- That means a lot to me, thank you! I am learning as I go with the photos and the writing, so hearing you enjoy it is really encouraging!

  17. positive1 says:

    Shauna,

    I always knew that you were exceedingly bright, but you are a really talented writer…I never really read alot of blogs until I read yours…No matter what I might be doing, I can always take 5 minutes and read what you have to say and enjoy it…

    I think that at some point soon you guys should be writing your own book. I think that alot of people would read it cover to cover…

    Great blog and great read! 🙂

  18. Heather says:

    I think this is honestly one of my favorite posts ever. I totally identify with it, and although I only jetted about for two years before being convinced to grow roots somewhere, it still felt clausterphobic and ordinary… and sad. And I’m still getting over that, even though I absolutely am in love with my life right now – my husband, my marraige, my dogs, my job. And now we’re looking to maybe buy a house in the near future, which means super permanance… i.e. not picking up and moving whenever I feel like it. It’s scary… but it can be fun and adventurous it its own way, and I need to remember that. Anyway, just wanted to say I ‘get’ you. 🙂

  19. @Heather- Thank you so much 🙂 It means a lot to pour my heart out & have people say, “I get it.” Seriously, thank you 🙂

    I know what you mean- there is so much to love… but some much to adapt to. I think it is like anything- everything now and then our gut instinct might be to react in the “old” way, which might be move or change everything… but no matter what there is so very much to learn.

    Congrats again on your 10/10/10 wedding!

  20. Heather says:

    Absolutely. There is adventure and a lot to learn wherever you are. And I need to put my energy into finding adventure where I am and meeting new people (something that is hard for me) and being social. But I still get that feeling every now and again, like, “Okay, time to go. Let’s pick somewhere new and start fresh!” Like you said, it’s such a fun feeling when someone says, “You are originally from WHERE? And you just moved on a whim? Wow, that is really cool. I don’t know if I could ever do that…” And you think, “Yeah, this is my identity – the chick who just takes off and embraces a new life, a new adventure.” And I hope I will always be like that as far as taking trips and planning travels to different places… but especially with my husband’s job, it’s hard to do that jumping permanently. Anyway, you really hit the nail on the head and are really getting me to think! 🙂

    And thanks for your congratulations. I’m a bit surprised to find that I actually love being married! (Not that I’m surprised that I love my husband, but I’m surprised that it actually feels different and in such an awesome way!)