“What’s it like to be back? Have you readjusted into normal life?” are the familiar questions I hear from many folks. My reaction, besides questioning what is “normal life”, is that I don’t really have an answer, or if I do, I just end up blurting out words like “weird” and “depressing” and “adjustment” and “vacuum cleaner”. I end up sounding like a mental patient.
I’m not exactly sure how I feel being back home. Happy? Sad? Horny? All of the above (or beside)? I do know that I still feel quite unsettled and odd. A stranger in a strange land. I walk around the streets of Vancouver and, while everything seems eerily familiar, it also seems like I’m seeing it for the first time. I’m just not quite comfortable in my own shoes and skin yet. Some of the unsettling might come from the fact that, out of the just over four weeks we’ve been home, we’ve had houseguests for more than 3 of those weeks. We haven’t been alone in our house for more than 5 consecutive days. It’s starting to wear thin. But that’s all coming to a close as the last of our houseguests have gone (save for one more night this weekend). We were facing another 6 nights of friends crashing at our place – a family of 4 were in need of some digs – but I managed to arrange for them to house sit for another friend for most of those nights. That was a blessing as I’m not too sure I could have handled another week of insanely loud children, utter chaos and sitting on the back deck drinking scotch until 2am. Sorry neighbors. They must think that we’re crazy party animals. I’m half expecting a note detailing our rude behaviour and asking us to shut the hell up shoved through my mail slot (no, that’s not a euphemism for anything).
It is great to be back at work (how many folks can say that?). I always forget how much I love my stores and my job. I’ve been doing it for almost 20 years now and I’m not sick or tired of it yet. 20 more years? Hah! I’ve worked a few shifts since I’ve been back (I keep getting asked if I’m the new guy) and I’m proud to say that the last few I wasn’t even hung over! That’s another problem upon returning: booze. Well it’s not really a problem in the biblical sense but we’ve been sampling many a fine wine (and beer and bourbon and tequila and…). Being that it’s summer means being outside a lot. With that and with our return we’ve spent much time hooking up with old friends, tipping the wrist while catching up. It’s great, of course, but I’m no spring drunky chicken anymore. I’m actually considering having a dry month in the future. September would be a good choice as it’s coming right up but I have lots of hockey to play and there’s some shows I might go and see and, hell I could come up with pretty much an excuse to have a beer anytime – “Oooh! It’s nighttime!”. Maybe February will be the month as it’s the shortest of the year. Hope that I can make it till then.
It has been a bit surreal and maybe even a little awkward jumping right back into life here. It’s almost as if I have to get to know my friends and neighbors all over again. I just haven’t really felt myself (stop right now, perverts) or at home in the past few weeks. But it is getting better. I imagine that it would be even more bizarre and otherworldly if I hadn’t been in constant contact with my friends, family and employees. So much has changed since the last time we had a big trip. In 2003, there was no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Instaface (that’s a thing, right?) and email was more or less a pain in the ass. So without this continuous flow of updates and photos of everyone’s food, I had no idea what my peeps back home were up to or what the had for lunch. When we returned everything seemed fresh and exciting. All that has changed. Sometimes I feel like I hadn’t been away at all. And it works both ways – there’s so much information about anywhere and everywhere in the word that checking out spots you might want to visit takes away some of the mystery and magic of seeing a place for the first time. Still though, nothing beast travel. Nothing.
I guess time will tell if it’s just me or living in a busy house or a combination of the two that is the cause of my anxiety and restlessness. And while I’m happy to be home – I love Vancouver and the life we’ve built here – I do still think about the trip everyday and what I might be doing on some tropical island instead of trying to figure out my taxes or remember how to work the stereo at the store.
Epilogue – It’s been five weeks now, I’m sleeping better, drinking (a little) less, playing hockey as well as I can, getting into watching films, eating my beloved cheese, starting a number of projects I want to do, going to the beach (nowhere near as nice as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia etc. but it will do) and starting to get back into “normal life” or whatever the hell that is.