I’ve been home for five days now but I still wanted to share this post with you. I started writing it on my return flight to Toronto, so although it’s in the present tense, it was written a few days ago…
As the plane’s engines roared to a start the reality had finally sunk in — I have to go home. My whirlwind tour of Western Canada has finally come to an end and I will be returning to real life in the morning. I think it’s safe to say that this trip changed me. It was the first time I travelled solo; the first time I didn’t have to worry about someone else’s travel needs or plans; the first time I got to explore, dream and discover on my own agenda.
Albeit, in the end I wasn’t alone. The only time I truly felt alone was when I was on the cross-country train, and that even feels like it was so long ago. I had the chance to meet up with friends in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary (including my best friend’s little brother, whom I’ve known my whole life and isn’t so little anymore), and along the way I came across a little motley crew that became a new extended family. Although I started this journey by myself, it sure as hell didn’t end that way. I will forever be thankful to Moose Travel Network for introducing me to my new friends, although its questionable how some of them were even allowed on the tour bus in the first place 😉
This was definitely a trip of firsts. Here are my most memorable ones:
- Hiking up to a glacier in the Columbia Icefields of Alberta.
- Meeting long-lost cousins, some of whom I share physical traits with.
- Being in a city I’ve never visited before yet feeling like I belong, knowing that my family planted roots there almost a century ago (I ❤ Vancouver).
- Driving through Kicking Horse Pass, something I remember learning about in my grade ten Geography class.
- Simultaneously falling in love with an entire group of people.
- Celebrating Halloween away from home for the first time in my life.
- Walking across a suspension bridge over a raging river into a temperate rainforest.
- Sharing the experience of someone’s first S’more while warming up by the fire inside a cabin in the woods.
- Sleeping in a hostel and actually enjoying it.
- Being spontaneous and delaying a flight in order to fit in more travel time (I was supposed to fly home from Calgary on a Thursday, however I delayed my flight by three days so I could go back to BC and visit Victoria. I had the idea just a few days before I was supposed to return to Toronto, and within hours one flight was delayed and a new flight was booked. Craziest thing I’ve done.).
And now, as I continue to write this on the bus home from the airport, I look around and see the familiar faces of Toronto; I hear the stop announcements on the subway; I even receive the first rude comment in weeks, directed at me from a grumpy morning commuter. I surely missed the city and my friends and loved ones contained within it, but I have a feeling that sometime in the near future Toronto and I may need to take a leave of absence from each other…
I’ve come to realize that in life, or at least for now, I will no longer settle. Travelling is my passion. I can spend hours pouring over maps, planning imaginary trips in my head. Writing about my experiences and sharing them with others in the hopes of inspiring them to travel themselves is what I need to do. And as much as it pains me to think of leaving behind everyone I love and my life in Toronto, I know that I need to see more of this world. I need to experience more. My friends and family will always be here; the opportunity to travel and explore might not always be an option.
To quote the great Kerouac:
“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer
ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.”
My battered backpack is lying on my bed, still holding the contents of my life on the road. I’m quite hesitant to unpack it, because I don’t know when for sure it will be needed again. But as Kerouac said, “the road is life”. Who knows, maybe my life is about to take a new direction and follow a road I’ve never been down before.