If you’ve never lived away from home in a place where no one knows your name and you can literally be anyone you want to be and stay as long as you want and make choices for yourself and regret nothing, you haven’t lived.
I’ve spent a total of 2 years in Canada, stretched over 4 years of my adult life. When I arrived, I was just 19 years old. It was the first time I’d ever traveled on my own. I had a job, a visa and no return ticket. I was this innocent, wide-eyed wanderer with barely any confidence and absolutely NO idea what I was in for.
Now at 23, I look back on the memories of everything I saw and experienced and remember flashes of the good stuff. Like naked runs through the snow after 9 Palm Bays, dancing at Wild Bill’s Saloon in Banff in front of a live country band, trying to start my car in the mornings with the windows frosted and my hands freezing off, those boarding days when it pukes down snow and you feel like your flying, New Years kisses and white Christmas dinners with floormates from all over the world, long drives over 4,800 kms of American soil and seeing the East Coast where the beach sand is red and the leaves change in the fall and everyone eats lobster and plays golf. And to all the people I met and got drunk with and shared deep secrets with and cried with and grew with – those really were the best days of my life.
When I look back on Canada as a whole, I think of all of those moments that I never wanted to be anywhere else in the world. You just don’t get that in everyday life.
After coming home four months ago, I didn’t feel the same kind of pull back to Canada that I did the first time I returned in 2014. I think it’s because I didn’t feel like I was finished in Canada. This time I know I’ve done everything I can and experienced so many amazing memories that it’s hard to be disappointed with myself. I admit I didn’t make the greatest decisions sometimes, but I’m happy where I am now and can look back on Canada and smile. I get that urge to go back, and I guess I always will. But I don’t think it’s the place that ignites the urge. It’s that feeling. It’s a moment where you appreciate being alive.
If you’re looking for a reason to live, I really encourage you to try it. Try leaving everyone behind. Hell, leave yourself behind. Go and find adventure. It’s wild and wonderful and it changes you for the better.
And when you come home and you’re like me and you wonder if anything in your life will ever be as amazing as those carefree summers and epic winters, don’t worry – it’s just them post-travel feels. It will pass.