Funny I should find myself sitting on this train bound for the Maritimes. I meant to listen to that Jack Johnson song before I left Toronto – “I need this, old train to break down…” I thought it was symbolic of something. It’s not that I want the train to break down (although, coincidentally I am sitting in the emergency exit and was thoroughly instructed on how to break the window and open all the latches and such – turns out I’m the one responsible for everyone’s well-being), but I suppose it’s the metaphorical train I’ve been riding. I want it to stop dead in its tracks so I can get off and suss an alternate form of transport. “Stop that train, I wanna get off…” that song also made its way into my consciousness this week.

Chuga, chuga, I think I can, I think I can, but does it have to roll like this? Nevertheless, here I am on this cloudy, Canadian day, lolling through the Quebec countryside en route to my homeland.

Yikes is an understatement. I’ve spent no more than 5 days in a row on PEI in the last 4 years, and I somehow took the notion to move back for the entire summer. All that effort put into running away, what kind of twist is this in my tale? I’ve always had each move motivated by the voice in my head that announces the next destination. I don’t always like what I hear, but I’m getting better at heeding its call regardless. When I landed in Sydney it was “get yourself to Byron,” after 3 months there it was, “move to Melbourne…” Tides turned and moons phased and I knew my holiday was drawing to a close. “You need to see the rock and the reef before you depart,” and so I did. Visions of sand dunes, lobster, clam digging, bonfires, old friends, old lovers, and new houses attracted my internal magnet and here I go yet again to Prince Edward Island. Listening to locutions.

This uprooting, the one taking me from my temporary stopover at my surrogate home of Toronto and back to PEI, was particularly difficult. When I arrived at the Pearson airport last week and saw the man in a turban serving people at customs and waited at the luggage carousel with the folks from the flight from Montego Bay, I thought, “Yes! Black people!! Diversity!!! Oh, Toronto, how I’ve missed you so….” The bing, bing, bong of the TTC chime, the sound of the streetcar, pedestrian Sundays in Kensington, cheap food, amazing old friends, I totally fell in love all over again.

For some strange reason, or not so strange, picking up and pissing off to the Southern Hemisphere nine months ago seemed less life-altering. It feels like there is more at stake with this shift. It’s now or never kind of thing. I was getting all comfy cozy back in my big city routine and I’m nervous about  breaking it.

A few weeks ago a fellow traveler at the hostel in Cairns asked me how long I’d been on the road. “Nine months,” I answered. Nine months! Just long enough to have a baby! You sure you’re not hiding anything? Have you got something to share with the friends and relatives back home? Ha ha. Definitely not, and what with the magic of facebook there’d be no squirreling that one away these days would there?

Then it struck me that maybe there was an incubation of sorts? Like a little Joey, I crawled into the pouch of Mama Kangaroo and said, “Hold me. Just let me chill out in here until I’m fully formed and ready to face the world.” So she did and eventually, I climbed out, gestation complete. The thing is though, that you can’t spend all that time in there and expect your perspective to stay the same. You’ve had time to percolate, you’ve got a fresh set of peepers. And that’s what makes it different. That’s why I have the insatiable desire to derail this train. I wanted a change, and ready or not I got one.

I’m returning home, reborn, to face all the things I took for granted. “OK, sorry guys, I know I sort of fell off the face there for a minute, but I’m back.” My family, my friends, the best job I’ve ever had – I’ve been given this once in a lifetime opportunity to pause and rewind and instead of a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude, I’m packing nothing but gratitude. Fresh faced, eager eyes, and a humbled heart. I don’t want this train ride to be like all those that have come before. I want it to be different.

I want to see what’s right in front of me. I feel like I was born with all of these gifts unwrapped, waiting for me to take advantage and play, but instead I was busy hauling ass up and down the street, searching the neighbours houses, pawing everybody else’s presents, looking anywhere and everywhere but home for all the tools to make it complete. Major bad case of the grass is greener. The good news is, now I know. I’ve seen the grass, and yeah, it’s green, but greenER is a stretch.

Who knows what in the name of mama kangaroos is going to go down on the gentle Island. I have a rough sketch to guide me, but it could be anything really…and who knows how long I’ll stay? The big smoke still holds a huge part of my psyche and I don’t know if I am ready to say goodbye to it just yet, or if I’ll have to. Maybe it’ll be a hello, nice to see you, thanks for everything, sorry I was such a jerk, end scene, see ya later, or as my friend jokes, maybe I’ll be barefoot and pregnant to some Island boy and in no time I’ll be settling down for good. What I do know for certain is it’ll definitely have to be different.

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