Thursday, 13 April 2017

Home Frozen Home: A Different Reflection Since Last Time

Heading back to Canada usually leaves me feeling equal parts resentful and anxious. This is a sentiment I have struggled with continuously over the last few years and this trip was no different.

Much to what seems like pretty much everyone's disappointment, it has been a fairly short trip*. But the purpose wasn't to vacation or spend any prolonged period of time here. It was actually meant to be a birthday surprise for my grandmother, and to collect a few items that I'd been missing in Uganda.

Leading up to my departure I felt an overwhelming sense of nervous energy. I usually do pre-flight, but not like this. I just felt uneasy and like something might go wrong. But, the interaction with the Somalian family at the airport, and the epic amount of leg room I had for the first leg of my trip back made me feel like things were going to be a bit more positive than. I was fearing it would be.

Best leg room ever!
In the first few days after arrival I struggled to adapt to the large temperature difference**. It also involved a stop at Burger Week, before the big surprise took place.

Burger Week
Spending a few days at my grandmother's ended up being the best choice, however. Not because anywhere else would have been awful, but because of the tranquility of her home. Spending time with her was also a bonus. If you don't understand what I mean about her home, the pictures below will give you a better idea. It's surrounded by nature - beautiful trees, plenty of birds and assorted other wildlife. It's also pretty devoid of technology, which means being present in every moment, rather than being distracted by messages and Facebook updates. 

The difference an hour can make!
A few visitors had come by, apparently...
Tranquil sunsets - the best way to end a day!
The next morning... really cold, but beautiful!
But after that initial weekend, things really began to speed up. I spent the the following week in Wolfville, my old university town, which involved a busy schedule of catching up with old friends and profs, as well as meeting new folks. It was a busy week, but a really great one. Wolfville still remains my favorite place in Canada, and it always makes me appreciate the sheer beauty of my country of origin, even if all the other aspects make me resentful or cause me to stay away.

All in all, my trip home has been a success. But there are four takeaways that I will be departing with, and they are as follows:

First, as I've just mentioned, Canada, on the whole, is beautiful. Most people I encountered were kind, welcoming and friendly, in the way many non-Canadians associate us with being. But aside from that, most are pretty disillusioned by what Canada really is***. The conversations that have followed Syria's latest headlines have been proof of this****. The realities of Canada in comparison to many other parts of the world is one that I struggle to reconcile when I talk to my Canadian friends, and it's one that is equally challenging to impart on ohers.

Secondly, the people who really want to be there are the ones that will make the effort. This has been a major learning curve for me this trip. I have had a number of people that made zero effort to get in touch while I was in Halifax all summer, last year, yet during this short trip have reached out. Overall this was pretty exciting, except no one seemed to want to come to Wolfville, which is where I'll now be living whenever I come back. That being said, the friends that I hold dearest all made some form of effort to meet me and/or coordinate a visit. But, it's hard to realize a vast majority of the people in my life are not willing to do this, yet expect me to go out of my way for them.

Above, my best friend in weirdness, Matthew. Below, my second family.

Thirdly, I still own WAY too much stuff. During my time here, my brother sold his Halifax home. This was actually a really great thing, but meant having to sort through a lot of the items I own. The good news is that I'm getting better at purging things each time. But it still makes it difficult to part with things for which I have established emotional ties, such as furniture from my Mom's house and a number of her other belongings. Each time I feel accomplished, but like she's fading further and further away*****.

Finally, returning to Canada next time will be there first time I won't have a Halifax home base for the first time in my life. And while, on the one hand, it's for a really great reason, and I'm extremely proud of my brother, it's unsettling nonetheless. But the thing I will try to remember is that at least I will have some form of homemade when I come back. In other words, this growing up thing is slightly overrated.

So, my dear, estranged Canada, thank you for highlighting your good qualities this time around. I'm still not ready to come back to you for any lengthy, meaningful amount of time, but unlike last time, I'm parting ways hopeful that we could be reunited ited once again, long-term.

Until then,

- the Orange Canadian

*although I did stay several days longer than originally planned.
**it was +33°C when I left Uganda, and -20°C when I arrived in Halifax!
***you may remember my breakup letter when I left last time.
****I'll tackle this in a later post - still trying to piece my thoughts together. 
*****There's a really great dead Mom joke in here, but I'll leave it this time....

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