It’s been eleven days since I got back to Canada, so there must be something to say. It feels strange to leave it so long between blog posts, but we’ve all got to get used to the idea that it’s not going to last forever, and there honestly doesn’t seem to be much to say. It’s time we started weaning ourselves off this thing. I know I owe you a post about how much the whole adventure cost, but I need some quiet time to sort through the eleven different spreadsheets involved. (Yes eleven. When I tried to do all countries in one it made my computer run slower than an Egyptian overnight train.)
So what’s been happening? Well, I had an excellent Welcome Home party last weekend. If you were in Winnipeg and didn’t come then you’re a big loser (Craig, Dorothy, I’m talking to you…). Not only did you miss a great party, endless rounds of “What was your favourite country?” and a chance to see my one hundred trillion dollar bill, you also missed the chocolate covered bacon!
Just like when I left town last year, I was reminded of how many great friends I have in Winnipeg, and I wondered how I ever managed to leave. I spent the whole evening bouncing around trying to spend time with everyone and mostly failing. By midnight, with rain falling outside, a hardy few of us remained in the living room while I blathered about geckos and tried to answer weird questions like “Where was the worst toilet?” (Mount Sinai. Though there was a train toilet in France that ran a close second. It was missing the critical flappy bit that covered the hole to the tracks, hence the updraft from the moving train caused anything that was intended to fall down to instead be sprayed upwards at an alarming velocity and coat every surface in the cubicle. On second thought, maybe that one was the worst…)
And just to prove what great friends I have, how about this for a cool Welcome Home present?
It’s a box of locally acquired Weird Food! There’s dried squid, canned jackfruit, pickled lotus root, green snack cakes, dried mango, apple sticks and, best of all: “chewy milk candy with purple yam and gelatinous mutant coconut” GELATINOUS MUTANT COCONUT!!! FiF, you rock!
All that Weird Food reminds me of the funniest comment of the week, which came from Karen. On my first day back, as she and Steve were getting ready to make supper, she called out to me from the kitchen, “Is there anything you don’t eat?” Then there was a pause, and then a defeated, “Never mind.” Heh.
I spent most of my time in Winnipeg in a whirlwind of lunches, afternoon coffees and suppers, trying to see everyone I wanted to before I packed up AGAIN. It was great, but felt rushed at times. Why the rush? Well, I’m currently engaged in my Triumphant Return Tour of Western Canada (TRToWC), and I felt like my family in other provinces might appreciate seeing me in the flesh some time before Labour Day. As easy as it would have been to continue lounging in Steve and Karen’s spare room, I knew I really should get on with it.
I had a surprisingly difficult time packing for the TRToWC. I’m so used to carrying the bare minimum of clothing that being presented with three suitcases worth of choice was frankly overwhelming. And how is it that I managed, suddenly, to be the custodian of four pairs of running shoes in various states of wear ranging from brand new to shocking? Luckily, any clothing from storage that’s worn below the waist was immediately taken out of the running, as were a few shirts that had a bit too much gaposis in the frontal region. Still, I was left with a dizzying array of t shirts and running clothing, and more socks than I’ve seen in one place in months. I’m now traveling with the Aeronaut and a whole other suitcase, and though I feel a bit sheepish about this considering my zealous defense of one bag travel, I can’t deny that it’s intoxicating having such choice. (Oooooh, lots of big words in that last sentence. And I didn’t even use a thesaurus!)
And now I’m in Moose Jaw, which hopelessly devoted GSRED readers will remember as the first stop in last spring’s Western Canadian Farewell Tour. It was a nice drive, and it’s great to be back in control of my own travel schedule, no longer subject to the iron-clad timetable of Japan Rail, or forced to arrive three hours before takeoff. Many people find driving on the prairies boring, but I love it. It sounds like a cliché, but it’s true: there’s nothing to get in the way of the view.
I’m also spending a bunch of time sending emails about possible job opportunities, or at least it feels like it. In reality there are only two or three avenues that I’m seriously pursuing, and they all seem to be the kind of thing that requires a few tentative inquiries and a lot of waiting. I need to keep reminding myself that it’s still very early and maybe it’s a bit much to expect to land on a Monday and have the rest of my life figured out by the end of the week. It’s just that I’ve spent the last few years with a pretty clear plan, so it’s disorienting to be facing such uncertainty. I know, I know, everyone tells me I should just relax and spend some time “processing” everything I saw and did in the last year, but what does that even mean? I have no idea. All I know is that right now the burning question is “What happens next?”