For the first time in my life, I have ended a vacation early to come home because I was homesick. I’m not sure I even knew what ‘homesick’ meant before because I had never been away long enough to experience it. I had booked two almost back-to-back vacations a week after ending a career and turning 30. The first was a hectic, new-state-each-day road trip and the second a visit to the East Coast where I had intended on going on some serious soul-searching bike trips in the outskirts of Halifax. For some bizarre reason though, the only biking gear I packed was a pair of yoga pants and a long-sleeve coolmax shirt. I didn’t bring a sweatshirt or a layer that would be warm on the windy passes. I had told myself that this was a ‘bike-venture’ vacation, but then filled the tiniest suitcase I own with the kind of outfits I would wear on a windy walk down boardwalks in like, California or Spain. Still, I looked adorable, minus the shivering and the wind-burnt cheeks.
I only shortened my second trip by 4 days, but it feels like a monumental decision… almost as if I’ve let down the part of myself that adventures and is capable of doing things solo.
I managed to do many things with other people: soaking up afternoon sun with Dal students, drinking in all but one of the local breweries, experiencing the (maybe) first patio day, teaching a little (big) boy how to pedal his bike for the first time, seeing Peggy’s cove through a foggy and sunny day, and taking awesome pictures along the way. And I shouldn’t be too hard on myself, I did manage to do many things on my own… a morning run on streets I didn’t know, finding and capturing awesome street art, touring the waterfront, eating at small restaurants, visiting the shipyard, two farmers markets, a craft fair, Point Pleasant park and… well, mostly I tried to get lost, but I found my way easily.
There came a point where I realized I was seeking out ‘notice what you notice’ moments and visions, instead of letting them come to me naturally. I was experiencing incredibly gorgeous sights and I was trying really hard to be moved by them, but my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
I wanted home.
I’ve been on the road one day too long / Can’t hear the record for another sad song / Look at all these faces can’t all be wrong / That’s a lot of my heart out there.
So do we keep running through the motions baby / Knowing that one day`s gonna come maybe / When you can’t keep your pretty mouth from saying / I wanna go home.
I wanted my bed with my 9 ridiculous pillows. I wanted my living room, in all its weird-art-glory. I wanted my backyard, with its mismatched chairs and leaning, vine-weed-covered fence and big orange dumpster within view. I wanted to use my low-lit shower, cook in my horridly purple basement-kitchen, and drink coffee at the cafe with the tilted benches and the broken brick path…
I wanted home.
I had never before felt such a desire to be surrounded by my things. I also missed the people in Toronto, but we’re all so busy lately that I’m used to missing them. I was newly surprised in my homesickness by how much I had grown to require being around familiar ‘stuff’. This was especially remarkable after a recent desire to purge so many of my belongings… but I guess what I hadn’t weeded out had become part of my being? Feeling safe and within my own space has always allowed me the freedom and confidence to explore out of my comfort zone, so that I feel like seeing and doing ‘all the things’. I had left my home base for long enough that I had lost my desire and capacity to seek out new experiences. In order for me to get that back, I knew I needed to seek out the least new experience…
I needed home.
So I told myself if I changed my flight I’d come back and be super productive. I’d update my website, attend art openings and panel talks, go on a bunch of runs, and get caught up on all the news. But what I’ve done is burrow. I’ve slept in and made tea and done chores and taken naps before having visits with some of my closest. I’ve turned down invites to late night benders and I’ve gotten super insulted and hurt when I wasn’t invited to others. I’ve sat in my backyard and just silently reflected on some thoughts that, for some reason I wasn’t able to think when I was away like,
Maybe it’s okay that I just experienced ‘The Big 30’ and it hasn’t changed a goddamn thing.
Maybe it’s okay for me to need people and to want to travel with others sometimes, because we don’t need another shot of my feet in a new location.
Maybe it’s okay that my soul-searching vacations ended in me finding that my soul is most accessible and solaced when not being sought out.
Maybe it’s okay that even though I’ve come home early, it still doesn’t quite feel right because I haven’t figured my home-shit out yet, but it feels better anyway because I’m doing so AT home.
Since getting back to Toronto I’ve asked a lot of people whether they’ve ever ‘quit’ a vacation before. Mostly people have said no and a few have said they wanted to but couldn’t afford to or make the logistics work. A few have said that there was a bravery in choosing to do so – that even though the earliness of my arrival here hasn’t allowed much time for productivity, it has certainly created an opportunity for examining my existence. It’s helped to validate that the life I’ve been creating for myself for the last few years has been an authentic, worthwhile project, and one that I feel confident in continuing to develop in whatever way arises and feels best. And I know now that I can trust myself to quit if it feels appropriate, because having the freedom to be able to up and leave most often leads to a desire to stay and persist.
We all hold dear the idea that we’re the captain of our own soul, and we’re in charge, and it’s a very scary feeling when we’re not. In fact, that’s what psychosis is-the feeling of detachment from reality and that you’re not in control and that’s a very frightening feeling for anyone.” John Bargh