You’ll have to excuse me,
I’m not at my best.
I’ve been gone for a month,
I’ve been drunk since I left.
These so-called vacations
will soon be my death.
I’m so sick from the drink,
I need home for a rest.
— Home For A Rest, Spirit of the West
I arrived in Calgary last night at 8:30pm. It was dark, cold, dry, and I was harbouring my second illness in a month. The snow that fell here only days ago was gone (thankfully — I don’t think I’m ready for that yet). But it already felt like home.
My house was full again, the shipment of furnishings from my mom’s house having arrived during my absence. (Thank goodness for roommates.) The cats were cranky, but they’ve been that way since Spaz arrived. I’m doing something about that tonight. I walked into my room, tasted the smell of used kitty litter, and flopped down on my bed — the cloud of dust it kicked up had me coughing for a few minutes. But it felt like home.
My last week in Halifax had been eventful, even when all I did was watch the Queen’s Gala on CBC. I took another train (no, you shouldn’t be surprised). I saw Halifax, Lunenburg, Peggy’s Cove, and the Bay of Fundy. I crossed Cape Breton twice. I met more amazing people. I bought seafood and travelled to Huntsville for a family Thanksgiving. (My apologies to those of you in Toronto — it was a last-minute decision, and I didn’t venture any further south than gate B20 of Terminal 3.) As I sat in the plane last night, taxiing down the runway, I couldn’t wait to get home.
This morning, it was minus two degrees outside. The leaves that were green when I left are now gone, dropped to the ground and neatly packed away in the garage (see previous comment about roommates). The walk to work seemed completely new, yet totally familiar (as it should be). My legs hurt from the walking. You’d think after a month of wandering around I wouldn’t notice.
The office hasn’t changed much. A couple new faces, others on their way out — nothing out of the ordinary. My project hasn’t moved forward one iota. I joked with a colleague that I was going to leave a sealed envelope with a message that read: "Nothing will change while I’m gone." Our laughter was nervous, because we both knew the truth.
Flipping on my computer, I was greeted with a cacophony of error messages. It seems my nicely drafted message to keep dirty paws off my computer hadn’t helped. The IT department felt it necessary to "upgrade" my computer in my absence, leaving me with a broken computer to return to. No email for me to start the day.
The calendar might say "Tuesday", but it feels like a Monday.
Meetings at 10:00, lunch at 11:30, fires burning by 1:00. Three projects that are in dire straits already need my attention. I don’t even know what the hell’s been going on for the last month! So goes the story around here: Sink or Swim.
Every person asks the same question: How was the trip? I give the token answer: Awesome! Great! Stupendous! Life-altering experience! But none of the answers come close to what I really want to say: You will never understand until you’ve done it yourself. I don’t want to let people down like that. I can show them all the 80 pages of journal entries and the over 2,500 pictures I took. But it doesn’t get the same feeling, the same idea. Everyone wants to see the documentary. I tell them one might be coming, but I haven’t heard for sure. Most seem to want to see a five episode series that covers every aspect. I can only hope.
Email is restored through a borrowed laptop. It’s quirky to say the least, and half the functionality I need is missing. But I can at least try to figure out what few things have transpired in the last 45 days. It’s only 765 messages (a record low for the period of time), but a lot of people knew I wouldn’t be answering. Most are CCs or bulk TO lines. And spam. Drat.
The cold is worsening. Throat’s killing me. Mint tea helps, but barely. I’m thinking tracheotomy. Head spins (or the room, still not sure which), blood drains from my face, and I resist the urge to sneeze for fear my throat might explode. Why couldn’t I just get the same cold I had on the train? That one was manageable.
Despite the harsh weather, the harsh illness, and the harsh reality of being home again, I can honestly say I’m happy. I’m happy that I had the opportunity and the honour of being with the CBC and celebrating 50 years of television. I’m happy that I’ve found more people I can call friends.
The adventure is finally over. For now, anyway. A little quiet time with the nose on the wheel will probably do me some good. If anything, it’ll make me appreciate the trip even more.
The saying goes, the journey is half the fun of getting there. The trip was more than half of that fun. But a little should be reserved for getting home. Although perhaps not so much fun as it is comforting.
Be it ever so humble (and cluttered, and smelly), there’s no place like home.