It feels weird to be home. Not just because I am not used to it anymore (the humidity, the sounds, the smells) but physically my body feels uncomfortable. It will take a few days to get sorted I’m sure.
What does home really mean anyway. Somewhere between mom’s telephone calls, Alfonz’s arms, and in shouting distance to the kids is where I feel most happy.
When I think about home I remember being a little girl content in the family unit I grew up in. I knew nothing more, loved my parents, my big brother and our cats. I still dream of those secure days, a little town on Vancouver Island where we would run through the woods, catch frogs and salamanders, play barbies in the mud, and swim in our pool. It was an ideal childhood and it is the same I want for my kids; simple homegrown town-life.
I was just remembering, I went through the gate and turned back to see Alfonz waving. I thought he had already left, and it surprised me that he was still there smiling. Pang went my heart, and I remembered Angelina’s quivering lip when I put her to bed last night, her knowing I would be gone by the time she woke up. I nearly lost it boarding the Air France flight out of Montpellier to Paris. Sending big kisses home to the kidlettes knowing they would be getting up soon.
Once in Paris I had three hours before my 10 hour flight, but it was nearly an hour just to get to the neighbouring terminal for takeoff. I took the escalator, and then an elevator. I thought I was nearly there, and then it led me to a bus to take me to terminal M. Finally after an hour, it seemed I walked for miles and then voila, the centre of a mini shopping mall opened up before me. I found my plane, and a large group of people wearing sari’s and draped long tunics in neutral tones waiting to board. Hello Indo-Canadians! This was my flight heading to moist cool Vancouver with people still dusty from the hot suns of New Delhi. I wonder if it will turn to mud in the damp air and turn their clothes brown. Funny thought.
With time to kill I circled looking for free 3G connections, nearly lost all my battery after Skyping the kids when they woke up and at the last minute realized there was a free hotspot connection with plug-ins. Too late to take advantage, I sent out my final Facebook message and stepped on the plane as my phone went dead.
The entire crew came by at one time or another to say hello to me. That’s strange, I thought, maybe they read my blog? At one point I turned red when a lady from first class brought me a little gift, and I thought, I bet I won a seat lotto seat of something of the sort! Finally I was told that my flight attendant girlfriend Marion from Capestang who works for Air France had told them I was coming! What a stinker! I have never had a better flight. Champagne on arrival, my red wine was never empty during dinner and the best looking flight attendant who personally knew my friend kept checking in on me. They got me a window seat, plus an extra seat beside me! I was in the lap of luxury. Thank-you my friend! Big kisses! I felt like a famous celebrity. <3
Our section ended up talking, and we had a Hungarian/Canadian woman who left Hungary in 1989 to start a new expat life, who now is moving to Gibraltar Spain permanently in April with her husband and 3 dogs and 2 cats (no kids) to open a yoga retreat. Funny she sat next to me by mistake and ended up moving seats as luck would have it. We exchanged info and I plan to have her in the book My Expat Life! Why not? Her story is very interesting and I cannot wait to share it. It shows how our life is already written, fate chance is the cosmos way of sending you opportunities. Stay tuned for more…
I took a painkiller for my back, a gravol too and I was out for 5 hours. Good night! I woke up in time for breakfast, freshened up my face, used my first class toothbrush and paste and I was ready for Vancouver!
During descent to the Vancouver Airport the weather turned, and just as I opened my shutter to look at the city below, lightning hit the wing and lit up the inside of the plane. It turned heads as I let out a fearful little screech. The flight attendant reported the hit to the captain, but he said it was the second hit and that we were all fine.
I told her in my broken French that I thought how ironic it would be, after 4 1/2 years away I would die from a lightning strike not 2 kilometres above Richmond Airport. We all had a little nervous laugh. Yeah very funny girl with the champagne seat! The lovely Turkish man who sat on the other side of our spare seat between us started to chat with me about his life until landing.
Nice Canadians. Eh, do we expect anything less? Spoken in my best Canadian accent!
12:05 landing, we made up the late start in the air. I always imagine running on wind waves like the turtles (surfing dudes) from the Disney movie Nemo, catching the fast flowing warp tube of the East Australian current, except high in the clouds. I am sure it is the same idea. Hmmm…
I exchanged some US dollars to Canadian dollars in the airport while waiting for my baggage. I always seem to be the last to leave the airport after any flight. I managed to make it through the terribly long ‘European Passport’ line. I was told to leave and enter Europe on my Hungarian passport. It was a sad reminder that the short A-line out of the airport was for Canadians Only, and I was now classified as all other passports. WAIT, I am STILL Canadian!
The border guard asked me, why are you in Canada? I said to visit my mom. I told him I am Canadian but in France they told me to travel with my Hungarian Passport because I did not have the stamp saying Canadian Eva has ever been to Europe. I asked the border guard if that was correct. He said Canadian passports are GOLD, ‘We would have let you in through the fast line.’ Apparently when I return with the CA PP I will have the same long lineup to get through in France. Really? Interesting I thought.
I felt energized to be home and was about to say goodbye to the nice chatty border guard. Then it happened and it reminded me, God I love CANADIANS! They really are the nicest people in the world! The border guard after giving me all the information I asked and then we carried on for another 5 minutes about ‘My Expat Life’, he stereotypically apologized for taking up so much of my time being so chatty. I had the biggest grin when I walked away. This I missed. Niceness to a fault. What a sweet man. Goodbye Mr/ Border Guard i hope I run into more people like you during my two weeks home!
I caught a cab to Marpole $20 flat rate and he dropped me off at the rear of Mom’s building. It was lightly raining. I tried to find a door, but no luck so I lapped around to the front to find the buzzer. I couldn’t see any names, and couldn’t remember which was mom’s apartment #, although I could see her apartment on the first floor with her beautiful garden I saw on Skype. I shouted, ‘Hey MOMMY I’m here!’ I listened… nothing. I buzzed the superintendent. Nope, no answer. I starting buzzing random people. Finally I saw a face I knew, Joszi, a friend of my mother-in-laws who kindly opened the door after 20 minutes of harassing the residents.
He took me to Mom’s apartment and I knocked on the door! Hello Mommy look who found me outside rapping on the door! After telling her my adventure trying to open the door, she said, I thought I heard someone say ‘Mommy!’ but she thought it was the TV! I joked she probably was hiding thinking, just a few more minutes alone before Eva bombards me!
I showered and changed my clothes and we were off to Coquitlam to meet my brother-in-law, his new wife and her son. They are lovely! We walked through the packed Mall full of Sunday shoppers. After we went to Safeway to pick-up something for dinner; potstickers, tofu and cottage cheese. And then back home to sleep… I was out like a light by 8:30.
5:30am up early but I feel great. The was refreshing my thoughts about yesterday. The traffic was very scary, people driving in the fast lane, passing on the right, the flashing lights, the slick roads, the double reflections… this I didn’t miss…
I looked out my window along route through Vancouver to Coquitlam, passing through Burnaby, and New Westminster at the landscape and the constructions of the buildings and houses along the highway. I don’t know how I missed this before but it looks eclectic and in shambles. Wooden houses falling apart, broken down cars in driveways, next to beautiful new concrete buildings, next to empty lots overgrown shrubs, next to residential homes or billboards and neon lights; no rhyme or reason and apparently no governing laws or building plans to keep conformity and neighbourhoods beautiful. A brand new oversized million dollar home next to a shack. I remember my brain skipping over the yuck when I drove along these roads on route to Kits from Surrey when I worked in this neighbourhood. I never noticed the giant outlets stores popping up slowly over the years along the River, they now take over the cityline.
Going through Safeway I saw processed foods everywhere I turned. I don’t miss this part of the North American lifestyle. Giant bulk packs of food. Giant sized bags of chips and huge 2 litre bottles of pop. Walmart in itself was a demoralizing experience, as I watching obese customers rummaging through discount bins, fighting to get through the crowds with their heaping carts of crap food.
Us four girls, Mom, my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law, and I laughed as we walked around making jokes. I saw an eighties hairdo on a 40-something woman that only this part of town could sport. She had this long perm ‘Fleetwood Mac style’ nearly reaching her waist with the feather, almost a mullet on top. Blond highlights too. She might be ahead of her time as the style slowly makes its way back. Maybe she is not giving up hope of a comeback.
Love Canada! True North Strong and Free! Freedom of expression, freedom of style, freedom to commit hair crimes. Yup I am home. Maybe tomorrow I will have something positive to say!
What’s my first meal at home? Asian of course! Only in Vancouver can you get cheap and delicious Asian foods!