For us, a visit to Canada has always evoked a bag of emotions.
On one hand, every visit is joyful. We look forward to seeing old friends, reuniting with family, visiting our favourite restaurants and shops, and navigating the familiar roads in the towns we grew up in. It’s comforting to know that there are still parts of Toronto (where Oksana grew up) and Hamilton (where Max is from) that we know better than any other place in the world. But that’s not surprising, after all, Canada is our home….well the closest thing to it. Home will always evoke the sweetest memories and the most joyful feelings.
But on the other hand, every trip to Canada is a bit gloomy. In the last few years, we have always visited Canada in the winter or late fall, which, to be honest, is simply not the best time. The trees are bare, the streets are grey, the weather is cold, and everyone seems just that little bit less friendly. Within a few days of arriving in the country, the harsh cold and dry weather sucked the life out of our skin. Our faces broke out, our tans disappeared, and for the first time in many years I felt the need to put on makeup before going out in public. I could feel myself losing my zest for life. Max and I have not felt so sluggish, so tired, and so unmotivated in a long long time. We tried our best not to let it affect our mood, but some days we really struggled to enjoy ourselves.
But beside the joys and the sorrows, every visit to Canada is also accompanied by uncertainty, worry, and anxiety. Every time we visit, we fear the changes that took place while we were away. Will our friends still care to see us, or will they have moved on with their lives, putting our friendships on the back burner? Will we be judged for all those birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations, nights out, and other big events we’ve missed? Will our conversations be more stiff and distant filled with awkward silences? We know a lot of our friends can’t relate to our travel lifestyle, some can’t fathom the fact that we are happy living out of our backpacks and not knowing what country we are going to next. We fear that one day our lives will be too different and that our friendships in Canada may just fade away…
But every time we come back we are proven wrong. Things don’t move as fast in Canada as they do on the road. Over the last year, we have visited 15 countries, on 5 different continents, making all sorts of memories, but back home in Canada, everything stayed practically the same.
Sure, everyone back in Canada has grown up a bit, changed a bit, and went through some exciting developments in their own lives. But for the most part, people are still working the same jobs, living in the same homes, shopping at the same stores, and eating at the same restaurants. We picked up exactly where we left off with our friends, without missing a beat. It feels like it was just yesterday that we were all sitting together chatting about our plans for 2015.
And the feeling of anxiety and uncertainty is quickly replaced by comfort and familiarity. We slid back into day to day life like we never left. It’s comforting to know that no matter what happens, no matter how far we go or how long we are gone for, Canada will always be that familiar place for us. A place where things will not drastically change overnight, a place where friends and family will always welcome us back with opened arms (well, so we hope), and one that can always serve as a fallback option for any of our (mis)adventures.