UPDATE: FOUR MONTHS AFTER RETURNING HOME AFTER TRAVELLING THE WORLD FOR A YEAR
Hey Good Lookin’!
It’s been a while since I’ve updated ye ol’ travel blog – over four months to be more precise. And some good stuff has been happening. But I’ll explain more about that in a moment.
First let me tell you where I am.
For old time sake, I thought I’d write you from an airplane. “How nouveau!” – you are thinking. I’m currently cruising at 15000 feet in the sky, according to the flight map, directly below is a town called Piney, Manitoba. Outside of my cabin window is a low-lying blanket of snowy clouds, and then a bright wall of interminable blue. It’s a familiar and emotive setting. I’ll never get over the idea that there are buildings that fly through the sky.
As I sit here, I’ve got one eye looking towards the past and one looking towards the future. But not literally. That sort of physical eye manipulation takes talent that is far beyond my realm. It’s just a silly analogy to help you understand that I’m hangin’ with an old friend called ‘introspection’.
YYJ à YUL
Over the past four months I’ve been living with my family in the charming coastal Canadian city of Victoria. Despite the pristine setting, I can assure you that it’s been an entirely unglamorous period of family ‘realness’: changing the post-avocado diaper bombs of my nephew and niece, having my mother (on a regular basis) drop hints that she would love for me to shave my furry face and spending most of my days with fatal coffee breath and a blanket over my head in a windowless nook as I attempt to write, write and write some more. Any potential notions of international grandeur were left out in the garage with my possibly bed-bug-infested-backpack. However I wouldn’t change these few months for anything in the world. If one wants to grow a beautiful tree, one must tend to the roots.
Now I’m en route vers Montréal.
Returning to Montreal is a strategic move for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the community I have been fortunate to form in Montreal is unparalleled to any place on this planet. After sixteen months of absence, I plan to plead for reacceptance into the lives of friends and associates who have been more than generous to cheer my adventures. If you’re picturing Wayne and Garth chanting, “We’re not worthy!” than you’re on the right track. I’m sure I’ll be spending a lot of time on my knees.
Secondly, I’ll be lending a hand to some colleagues as they launch a marketing company with the premise of helping leading brands do ‘good’ and aiding nonprofits become leading brands. The attempt is to identify core values and how these values can be linked to positive and sustained social change. Is it even possible? I’m not saying this will be easy. But I’m excited to be exploring the complexities with folks who have inspired me in the past. You’ll want to stay tuned, but in the meantime, you can check out the company here: www.naisgood.com.
And finally, I’m heading back to Montreal because it’s Canada’s coolest city – a gritty mixture of bohemians, foodies, fashionistas and people with politics. I used to get paid to sing the praises of Montreal. But trust me, nobody’s paying me to say it now.
It’s just something I believe.
THE LAST TIME
When I left you last I was in Adelaide, Australia, and I had reached a point where, for the sake of closing off the journey in a personal and meaningful manner, I decided to step away from the blog and all social media platforms. Essentially I pulled the plug and turned the lens inward, transferring from a broadcast-heavy operational mode to a form of reflection and introspection. These final two weeks were difficult in some regards, but satisfying in others. I went on a personal journey, both geographically and intra-personally, and reached a point where I was truly ready to conclude my yearlong journeying. The final leg of my journey was not unveiled here on The Conversationalist, but it will be shared soon. I promise.
Upon my return to Canadaland, part of the reason I opted to stay with family was to have a more socially isolated setting where I could focus on the somewhat arduous process of composing a travel memoir based on the twelve-month expedition. And I’m excited to announce that the literary journey has begun – I’ve drafted the first nine parts of the twelve-chapter manuscript.
So that’s something.
But trust me, there shall be no self-administered pats on the back quite yet. These are nine chapters that still resemble amorphous blobs of wordy marble rather than finely carved statues of literary genius. There is much work still to be done to tighten, to cut, to shine, to polish, to massacre and any other fancy verb that helps illuminate the editing process. To my advantage, however, I am armed with a slightly thick skin and a burning desire to get a more cohesive and personal version of my adventure into your palms.
You can expect classic storytelling with a bit of humor and introspection weaved into the mix. The book will feature plenty of anecdotes and tales that did not make it into my Letters Home, and that were not captured in photo or video. It will also include the events of the final two weeks of my journey.
The writing of this book, in many regards, is my newest adventure.
THE BIG QUESTION
“So how does it feel to be back?”
This is an innocent inquiry that got lobbed in my direction countless times upon returning to family and friends. My best response probably would have been a nonverbal communication in the form of interpretive dance, followed by a selection of high-pitched bellows that would reference an audio mash-up an orgasm and a stray dog being hit by a steamroller. But for the sake of social normativity, I offered up my best verbal sentiments and responded in a sort of autopilot mode.
“Yeah, it’s good to be back. It’s really lovely to see family and friends again.”
It was impossible for me to formulate a more articulate response to the hodgepodge of post-journey emotions that were running from my heart to my head like one of those ‘Strongest Man in the World’ circus contests where a sledgehammer is hurdled at a vertical light-bulb scale. There was a lot of internal ding-a-ling.
But four mouths later, there has been enough time to permit the adventure dust to gather into a more manageable dust monsters in my brain. It might be another decade or more before I fully understand the impact of my travels, but I am starting to see the repercussions of travel. Last week I saw a poster that said “Tango Night” on the door a downtown Victoria bar, my mind wandered back to the sound of fifty couples shuffling across the floor of a gazebo in Buenos Aires. When I met and conversed with my mother’s neighbor, a smiley woman from India, I suddenly found my cranium dancing in the traditional social head bobble. There is never an instance when I pick up a package of goat cheese at the grocer and don’t wonder if it will be as fresh and delectable as the labneh from the goat farm in Galilee. There are a thousand new things that trigger memories of taste and smell, of sight and sound.
I can say honestly now, after four months of non-travel, that it feels truly wonderful to be back in my homeland. I am relishing the time with family and friends, and appreciating a consistent schedule and the familiarity of a more compartmentalized lifestyle. The discombobulation of travel and its subsequent emotional complexities of goodbyes and hellos have been quelled through rest and time.
So if you bump into me on the streets of Montreal (or if we crossed paths on the information super highway), feel free to pose whatever questions you’d like.
But I’m not promising I won’t break into a mind-blowing interpretive dance performance.