On my second to last day in London, I walked into the great white granite hall of the British Museum, and saw something familiar. Two tall totem poles, their hand-tooled, organic wood contours stood bravely in the museum’s Great Court, contesting the almost blinding brightness and austerity of massive greek columns.
My heart leapt, and I rushed over to touch their sanded surfaces, on the pretense of reading the tiny square information panel about their origin.
But I already knew where they were from. Home. And I, standing in the one of the world’s most fabulous museums in one of the world’s most alluring cities, was utterly homesick.
24 hours and a backwards chase of the night across the Atlantic, I stood in my tiny kitchen, washing dishes, and a shiver of joy resonated through my jet-lagged body.
Yes, England wooed and won me over, its people welcoming and giving, its sights and sounds memorable and astonishing, its weather surprisingly summery. And yes, in the days to come, I hope to tell all sorts of stories about my time there – from the wild, breathtaking beauty of Northumberland to the unexpected treasures of Coventry, and all the ancient stones in between.
Home is another story. Sights and sounds that had faded into the background become savoured, like the trains and seagulls knocking about outside our windows, and the ubiquitous muttered sorries of other Canadians when they come within a foot of your personal space bubble.
Mind you, the romance of vacation can leave one depressed as well as elated when arriving home – unopened bills pounce from the mailbox and the preparation of meals is no longer an exotic adventure: having a picnic in your hotel room after foraging the foreign aisles and brands of Sainsbury’s is exponentially more exciting than looking into your own cupboards and eating at the kitchen table. Routine is eager to welcome you back to unconscious habit. Even though you feel, deep down, fundamentally changed, and perhaps even improved, by being somewhere else for so long, it’s still easy enough to waste a day at the computer (that you didn’t need for three weeks).
But angst aside, there’s porridge bubbling away on the stove, a slumbering husband in our very own bed, and a day promising sunshine and laundry, unpacking and, yes, a pile of dishes, needing scrubbing.
There’s no place like home.