Home is Where the Heart is.

A dull light crossed my bed, illuminating the room with a subtle even glow. It wasn’t the blazing column of heat that usually woke me whilst I had been staying down in Florida telling me that something was definitely different about the weather. Looking outside I saw a thick cloud coverage going from horizon to horizon, muting the sun and causing the temperature to drop to more reasonable levels. Almost instinctively I fired up my computer to see what the status was on the Discovery launch: scrubbed until tomorrow just as everyone had predicted. I set about the task of readying myself for the flight out of here since my flight was only 4 hours away and I had a few things that needed to be done.

After filling up the Mustang (which drinks fuel in comparison to the Corvette, strange I know) I returned it to whence it came. It was a decent car but it felt pretty cheap, with all the components being plastic and resembling those of parent’s 1992 Commodore. Still it was a very comfortable and quiet ride so I can’t fault it as a car to get around in, apart from the startling amount of fuel it used to do just about anything. After dropping it off I went to check my bag in so I could go about hunting down some breakfast, thinking that being here so early I would’ve beaten the rush.

That didn’t appear to be so since the line for checkin took 15 minutes clear and the security check point line took well over an hour to get through. Still it was a pretty easy going experience even though the libertarian in me was screaming again about civil liberties and security theatre but my rather blasé mood managed to quell him without too much trouble. Once I was through I settled in with a light breakfast and my novel, blasting through a couple chapters before it was time to board. The flight itself was quite smooth once we were above the cloud tops. I can see why NASA would be concerned about them since they were quite thick and the shuttle could have easily triggered a lightening strike or worse, stripped the heat tiles off the orbiter.

Once I had disembarked from the plane I was struck by how new everything in the Montreal airport looked. It had obviously just been renovated with modern accents adorning every corner and multicoloured LED strips lining the walkway to immigration. The airport itself was a model of efficiency getting nearly half the plane cleared before the baggage even started to arrive on the carousel. After picking up my bags and just simply walking out (I was expecting an Australian-esque customs shake down) I was then greeted with two smiling faces: my wife Rebecca and her best friend ever Laura. I was greeted with a bear huge of epic proportions and I returned in kind, revelling in the human contact I had been missing for so long. I was looking forward to this moment for quite a while and the relief I felt was unimaginable.

Tonight we were to dine at the FireGrill, a Canadian steakhouse chain that apparently put on quite a spread. After navigating our way through the tail end of the rush hour traffic we went and picked up Laura’s boyfriend Marc before starting the walk there. It wouldn’t have been so bad walking there but it was steadily raining the whole time there, drenching those of us who hadn’t come prepared. It made for a few entertaining moments at the start of the night when I was mopping up my hair to avoid dripping water all over the menu, especially when I thought I got it all only to have another drop embarrassingly make its presence known with a loud splat. The food there was delectable and the wine I had selected (a French pinot noir) was a good compliment to the steak I was having. It was particularly pricy though but it was definitely worth it, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone else.

I have been told, in no uncertain terms, that tomorrow I am having a bro date with Marc and possibly one of his work colleagues. Usually this would weird me out since I hate forced social situations but I’ve already taken a shine to Marc and since we share a profession I figure that worst comes to worst we can bitch our respective work places without boring each other to death. I know I’ve had more than a few shared rolleyes when I get my real geek hat on and start talking about the various implications of technology X or why someone is an idiot for not using Powershell.

Thinking back over the day I was still somber from the emotional thunderstorm I put myself through yesterday right up until that first moment when I spotted my wife waving me eagerly over to her. It was a great comfort and the company that she’s been keeping over here in Canada made me feel like this was a home that I had somehow managed to leave behind. Suddenly I realised that I had been missing that key ingredient that really makes travel worthwhile: that human connection. Visiting far away places is all well and good but without that connection to someone else, whether it be a travel partner or those you meet whilst over there, the experiences feel quite insular. I have less than a week here but I can already feel the experiences that I’ll take away from here will be that much richer thanks to the people I’ll be sharing them with.

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  1. So true. I spent 3 days in London by myself the first time i went there. I hated it, but a year later I was back there with my partner, and it was one of the most enjoyable parts of our trip. Just so different travelling by yourself.

  2. Yeah totally agree. It might have been a completely different situation had I been staying a youth hostel or something or if I was just a bit more outgoing. But the differences between my one night here and the 11 I spent away from them were stark enough for me to really notice. I’m usually a pretty independent guy but this was definitely a surprise.

  3. Its like when you left home even though children need to leave the nest and parents need to let their children fly there is this big gap so the contact days become so much more precious.

  4. I think a large part of travelling is the ability to share circumstances with someone else. The good and the bad. Also, a lot of the fun of time away from home responsibilities isn’t too viable when alone. You could go sit in a beer garden all day, but alone who would want to. You could go out till dawn to as many cool clubs but alone(at least unless single, & even that gets old) you’d be bored. Museums, interesting architecture, lazy lunches in cafes, etc all fine alone, but far better with someone.

    And I say that as someone who needs time alone regularly to help recharge the batteries, and who happily walks everywhere/catches buses as it gives time alone. I enjoyed travelling alone in Asia, but i’d have preferred the down time had I someone to travel with. And boy was I glad to get home.

  5. I’m much the same. There’s definitely an upper limit to the amount of time I like spending with other people (although that could just be the budding entrepreneur in me) and my first couple days in the US fit the bill quite nicely. After a week though I was wanting for someone else to share these experiences with. I think that was also what made missing the shuttle launch just that little bit more devastating as I was hoping to share something with a group of like minded people.

    It’s definitely one of those life lessons I wasn’t expecting to learn on this trip.

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