When that inevitable final chapter of a journey begins, it can be greeted with both sadness and relief. For those of us who have made travel a way of life, coming home can be a bittersweet affair. The joy of seeing the loved ones we’ve missed, mixed with the realization that friends have settled down, gotten hitched and have began to behave like adults in our absence. We find ourselves missing the open road where our days were counted by miles conquered, real estate endeavors consisted of finding the cheapest lodging for the night and the question “just what are you doing with your life?” never seemed to arise.

I have always had a tenuous relationship with my home town of Toronto. There were many things I loved about the city, the multiculturalism, the cool bars and restaurants, the live music scene and above all, the fact that my family and many of dearest friends were here. But travel made me begin to question my bond with Toronto. Was this the place I saw myself living permanently? With so many amazing places I felt drawn to explore, Toronto became my stop-over base where I could recoup, regroup mentally and replenish my bank account between trips and not much more.

I recently returned home after a year of working abroad and traveling the great land of Australia. Coming home felt different this time around. The usual bout of vagabond withdrawal and mild depression which generally followed time spent away never manifested itself. I felt content and decided to stop being a cynic of “my” city and embrace it wholeheartedly. Maybe even learn to love it? Perhaps my new acceptance reflected some deeper understanding that I had been running from something which I had somehow comes to terms with? Or maybe I just needed to stop being a “whinging” (Aussie for complaining) b****.

As travelers, we pride ourselves on being open-minded and embracing different people and places, yet it was so hard for me to openly embrace my own city. I’m sure my friends were getting fed up with my tiresome comparisons of Toronto to other cities I’d visited and pointing out what I though it was lacking. Yea Berlin has the coolest underground bar scene and Melbourne’s live Indie rock is second to none, so what? Where else can you bargain shop in China town, lunch on an authentic Greek gyro on the Danforth, enjoy an evening stroll through little Portugal and wine and dine in true Italian fashion in Little Italy, not to mention find a secluded beach minutes from the downtown core on Toronto Island? Maybe I’ve grown up or maybe after seeing so many places I can finally appreciate my own. My travels are far from over but coming “home” no longer carries with it the usual sense of foreboding. I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes, I love you Toronto.

Advertisements