Home?

I’m sitting in the Calgary airport, enjoying their free Internet access. I had to laugh making my way through the airport security. Canadians really are friendly! It isn’t just a myth.

I had a momentary crisis of consciousness filling out my customs declaration form. (And not just because I couldn’t remember how many litres of wine I brought with me as gifts.) I actually had to think about whether I was a visitor or a resident of Canada for a few seconds. It seemed so strange. I still have a house in Victoria, but I live in Innsbruck. I’m a resident of Austria, but am only legally allowed to work in Canada. Of course I am a visitor, but it did feel very strange to tick off those boxes. And that mixed with the excitement of coming ‘home’ as well as already feeling very far away from Annie and Markus made it all that much harder.

Travelling to Canada, on the other hand, has (so far, please don’t let me jinx my last leg from Calgary to Victoria) been a breeze. When I was rowing we used to do ‘fartlek’ workouts, where we would try to row at 45+ strokes per minute. The concept was that when we then rowed at 37 strokes per minute during a race, it would feel easier, more in control. The last couple of years, I have found that this principle holds true throughout most of life.

Getting less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep used to set me up for a very tired day, until I had a baby and didn’t see a 7-hour stretch of sleep for over 9 months. It felt like I could go days on 7 hours of sleep after that. Parenting on weekends now with Markus seems so much less stressful after this year’s long stretches of single-motherhood (in a foreign country, not speaking the language, with no friends or family). And travelling, even on long-haul flights half way across the world, is a dream after travelling to Europe with a small child. I watched 3 movies, had a short nap and am now easily filling a 3-hour layover in Calgary by emailing, Facebooking and blogging.

And most of all, I can’t tell you how easy it is going to be to arrange things when the people at the other end of the phone speak the same language as I do. Before I set out for even the most mundane errand these past 10 months (going to the dry-cleaners, drugstore, doctors, etc.), I’d try to practice and look up the German words that I might need to make myself understood. A couple of times I caught myself doing that with tasks I have to complete here in Canada. But no need!!!  Movers arranged? Phone lines disconnected? Bank transactions? Easy peasy lemon squeezy compared to trying to do all of those things with my poor German and the other person’s broken English. Of course, all of those tasks are generally irritating, but I just know it will seem easier after this last year’s experience. I guess that is what is meant by the quip that you can’t appreciated the good times without some difficult times. Now if I can just remember this lesson the next time a difficult day hits.

2 Responses to “Home?”

  1. sox says:

    Welcome back to your “other home”, Hillary. I can’t wait to see you. Give me a call or send me an email when you can. And I know you’re going to be busy, so no rush!

  2. matthew says:

    Hi Hillary, saw your video of Axamer lizum on vimeo and read a bit about your project here on the blog. We made our way over here to Innsbruck some 8 years ago from the UK – great city hey. Hope the hotel renovations are going well.