My reason is as follows: it will be my last post of my Girl Meets Canada series. Because my road trip is over.
It’s been over for a while now. Almost two weeks, as it were. I just don’t want to admit that. Out loud. To the internets. But, internets, it’s time you knew the truth.
I’ve hung up my keys.
The van is parked.
There, I said it. That doesn’t feel so bad.
Day 121 (Tues, September 7th)
I sat at Dr. Iguana’s kitchen table, writing postcards to everyone who helped me along the way. All the family members, all of the friends, all the friends of friends, all the random strangers. Everyone who fed me, sheltered me (I was going to say “bedded me” but that just sounds dirty), entertained me, supported me. It took a long time. I got a pretty bad wrist cramp.
And then there are all the folks I ran into, shared a beer with, or helped me out whose addresses — and in some cases, names — I never got.
I sat at that table, staring at the stack of postcards, feeling so incredibly blessed. I have been insanely lucky to have had the opportunity to meet and be cared for by all of these generous, giving, loving people. This trip, these last four months, would not have been the same without their love and support and kindness. And I don’t have a clue how to thank them properly. Any ideas?
I finally left Dr. Iguana and his furry side kick, Her Orangeness, and headed to Argentia to take the 16 hour ferry back to Cape Breton. Two and a half weeks in Newfoundland isn’t nearly enough time. But I guess I’ll have to go back. Often.
My trip ended pretty much as it started — with stuff falling off (or out of) my van as I drove obliviously onward. I survived the ferry and on Day 122 (Wed, September 8th) I drove back to Halifax, leaking coolant the whole way. I didn’t realize until I pulled into my friend’s parking spot, got out of the car, and noticed a small lake forming by my rear tires.
Is anyone getting sick of reading about my van leaking fluids? Because I sure am getting sick of writing about it.
Over the passed few weeks a lot of people have asked me, now that you’re trip’s over, what have you learned? What was it all about?
My initial reply to this was nothing. North America harbours a belief in the sacredness of THE ROAD TRIP. It’s this epic, almost holy event that people look at with awe and reverence. People seem to think that if you embark on one you will be given a new spiritual path, or shown the secrets of existence, or other such nonsense.
As a road trip addict, I can tell you that all that is a lot of hooey. Driving is fun and you get to see new things and meet neat people and have lots of time to think. But it’s just a distraction, like most things in life. At that end of the day (or week or month or year) you are still the exact same person with the same problems, and driving hasn’t solved any of it.
But, this time I think I actually have — not learned something, but I’ve figured something out. See, I was planning on moving away from Victoria. I was sort of using this trip as a scouting mission, to see where I’d like to like. I was expecting/hoping that somewhere would jump up and scream HERE! YOU NEED TO BE HERE! NOW!
And a lot of places that I visited were fantastic. As I was there I would think yeah, I could live here. I feel good here. Small places. Big places. West coast places. Prairie places. Strange, new, wonderful places. Houston, BC. Calgary, AB. North Battleford, Sk. Winnipeg, MB. Ottawa, ON. Val Morin, QC. Wolfville, NS. St. John’s, NL. To name a few.
It’s just in the last few weeks, looking back on all of these places that I explored and enjoyed, have I realized the real reason why I felt like they could be home.
It wasn’t the places. It was the people.
It seems so freaking obvious. But I’ve always assumed I liked a place, or didn’t like a place, because of the place itself.
Place. I’ve typed that word so many times in the last few sentences that it’s lost all meaning.
Any-who, I have finally figured out — after years upon YEARS of traveling — that the place doesn’t matter so much. If you’ve got the right people, anywhere is fantastic. And yes, a big part of people is other beings. But another big part of people is me. Who I am and how I feel and how I treat those others that I claim to care so much about. I’ve realized that I don’t need to keep driving and driving and DRIVING to be happy. I probably need to figure out how to stay still. And I should pay more attention to the people in my life because they are so worth the time and effort.
This is getting mushy. I didn’t mean it to be. If you’re new to my blog, welcome! And, no, I don’t normally get all touchy-feely.
So, that’s it. Quietly, in a small parking lot, my trip came to an end. I hadn’t arrived at my next stop. I had arrived home.
That’s right, internets. Halifax will be my home. For the next ten months anyway. I have decided to stay put for a while, and will be taking a yoga teacher training course. It’s part of that previously mentioned “learning to stay still” thing. So you can look forward to months of zany a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-yoga stories.
All photos by Sarah Gignac
First night camping back in May.
Typical Van Meal
Near Moose Jaw.
Sunset in the rearview.
Sivinanda Ashram, Quebec
This article was first published on Raggedy Threads in September 2010.