After ten months of waiting, multiple FaceTime conversations, four missed family birthdays (not to mention Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Easter ...) and one lost wallet later, I finally made the trek across the Atlantic to visit my family in Canada for the first time since I moved to London.
Initially the jetlag left me feeling disoriented. I hadn't set foot outside of London in almost a year and so my view of the world had shrunk drastically. But after a few days of lounging around on my my parents' sofa, playing with my dog and eating too much poutine, it felt like I had never really left.
I spent much of the trip being lazy. I haven't really taken any time off in the last year, so while a "vacation" felt strange, it was much needed for both my body and soul. Day trips to the beach, time spent soaking at Body Blitz and probably too much overindulging on ice cream, burgers (at my old neighbourhood favourite, BQM) and tacos allowed me to recharge my batteries. And being around my wonderful family and friends definitely helped.
While I miss everyone -- my parents, my sister, her boyfriend (who is essentially my brother at this point), my friends and my pets -- I don't miss Toronto, which was my home for the five years before I came here. Being there reminded me that that city brings out the worst in me. Moving abroad was the change I needed to feel more assured in my own choices and independence, and has made me a more confident and easygoing person. Two years ago, I would have crumbled under the challenges I've faced here, but I know that these unfamiliar scenarios forced me to adapt and grow into the person I need to be. By no means have I perfected myself (I never will), and I'm nowhere near finished growing, but I'm glad to know that the choices I've made in the last year have impacted my life for the better.
Still, it's good to take a break from the grind and get away. This trip reminded me that I need to make more time to get out of London and explore while I have the chance (that is, until my visa expires next summer). Traveling, and enjoying the simple act of wandering and exploring, whether it's somewhere new or happily familiar, is necessary to my happiness. In fact, when I got back to London everyone was remarking that I looked happy and healthy, though I think much of that is owed to my favourite Vita Liberata bronzer.
All in all, I'm happy to have made my journey home and back. It reminded me of the things I love about Canada, and the reasons why I decided to leave. I'm glad to be back, but I'm also comforted by the fact that if I ever get homesick, the True North will always be there.