Europe

Last Day in Canada: No Coincidences, Good Omens For Our Journey.


Tuesday, June 15th, 2004: Stratford, Ontario, Canada

We are tired and emotional from seeing everyone during our two weeks at home. We both admit to each other that we will both be happy to be on the road again, without the physical and emotional baggage of the “return”. Some have asked us if there has been a defining moment for either of us on the trip; a moment of transcendental awareness that characterizes our journey over the last five and a half months. There is an assumption that we have changed somehow. We have an assumption that we have changed somehow.

The Too Often Asked Question

We answer questions from family and friends that soon become familiar: “What was your favourite spot? Tell me the highlight of your trip? Are you coming back to Toronto? When was your transcendental moment!?” We politely try and answer as best we can. I feel guilty because I don’t have a transcendental moment to share, something to adequately throw to the hungry, curious audience. There have been many glorious moments on the road but too lost in the detail of everyday life to mesmerize around a drink, a quick cup of coffee or a party of 20 close friends and well wishers. I keep saying “have you been to the web site?” This seems to be the logical place to go to share the day-to-day magic of our trip. Our friend Tim goads me on… “oh, that bloody web site! If I hear another word about it…”

There is a transcendental moment

I’ve come to realize how loved we are and not just for who we are but also for what we are doing. So many people actually visit the web site and followsummer but don’t check in with us because they don’t want to bother us. They are living completely vicariously through us. People have been gushing and ooohing and ahhing. I feel like a celebrity.

John: We recognize, on arriving “home”, that home is wherever we are. It isn’t, surprisingly, a physical place, or familiar things. It is being together, wherever, in conditions that range from the sublime to, more normally, definitely less-than. It is the sharing of experiences. We have learnt that the only thing we really need to be at home is a good book.

We leave Stratford with few tears, except from John’s mom. So very different from what we wrote on our departure 5 months ago:

A day of travel and time for contemplation. The beginning of a year of living in the moment, following an intense period of planning, when it often seemed that we spent all our time living in the future as we laid the groundwork for the trip.
The movie on the flight is “Under the Tuscan Sun”. The name of the villa, Bramasole, means “yearning for sun”, and it is an apt description of the year we begin. Some particular quotes from the movie stand out: “Terrible idea! – don’t you just love them!” and “Regrets are a waste of time.” I believe there are no coincidences, so I take all of this as a good omen for our journey.

No Guilt

Today is like leaving any country we have visited and left, our two week saturation point being reached. There is no guilt in these feelings; they are similar to the feeling of being ready to move on that I have had all through the trip – whether in Sydney, Chiang Mai, Bangkok, New Delhi or Istanbul. My memories of the lush, green rolling hills of newly planted corn outside Stratford are clear and strong; as are the familiar thump-thump, thump-thump of the wheels of the always-late Queen streetcar, west-heading towards the Humber, taking me downtown to meet friends for a drink, and our families, eager to fit us into their busy schedules, everyone hanging on our every word.

Some quick thank-yous for those who looked after us while at home. John and Jeff: Thank you for letting us mess up your guest bedroom for our week in Toronto. Jim and Joanne for your impeccable (as always) hosting of our Wednesday night dinner. It was lovely. Jeff, Keiko and Noah, for an easy-going and relaxed BBQ with our friends from the MBA. Bill and Bob, what can we say: we overstayed our welcome – you should have kicked us out at 9:00! Sarah for a lovely lunch with our kitties, Carmela and Frank, thank you for sharing Katie’s graduation with us, David and Kathryn, arriving late to brunch is better than not arriving at all, right? Our lovely neighbours who all wished us continued good travelling, all the business and social lunches and parties everyone treated us to, and lastly, our families Jeff, Gary, Louise, Kim, and Shannon, Pam, Nimi, Eric, Liz, Janet, and Chip, and especially to Nana, who graciously increased our storage capacity at the family house in Stratford, without extra charge.

A Mere 7 Hours to Frankfurt

“Terminal New” at Pearson greets us like every airport we have traveled through: Sleek, big and mostly unknown. We pass through it’s various check-points, remembering the long list of screening procedures including passports, watches and belt buckles, shoes and computers to try and save some time if not some hassle. We make our way to the lounge and settle, making some final calls and organizing email. Our flight is comfortable but short – a mere 7 hours across the Atlantic. By the time supper is cleaned up and we settle in, we have little more than 3 hours of sleep available to us. We have preset our watches to Frankfurt time and I don’t get to sleep until after 4:30 a.m. We are scheduled to land in Frankfurt at 7:30! Someone neglected to tell us that the European Soccer Championships have just started and all of Europe is in soccer frenzy. Just our luck.

Welcome to Followsummer Part 2. Europe Beckons!

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