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Cold and Confused

Ottawa, Experimental Farm, March 2018

“How is your day going so far?”

“Confusing,” I blurt out before remembering too late that this question doesn’t need to be answered.

“A muffin with your coffee?” replies the barista without missing a beat.

There are stranger characters than me at Starbuck, after all—training probably includes tips to stay cool, hip and upsell when facing caffeine-deprived individuals who may behave erratically.

Brutal honesty—muffled by espresso machines—occasionally happens before the first sip.

“No thank. And the coffee… make it a medium, actually.”

“And by medium, you mean…”

“Yes, that one. Tall. Right.”

Gosh, I’m such a newbie. I can’t even speak Starbucks anymore.

 

But it is a confusing day. I barely slept during the ten-hour flight because I was busy crying, not enjoying Air Canada food and not watching movies I had zero interest in. There’s snow everywhere. It’s cold—not just “wow, that’s quite a temperature difference!” but actually cold by Canadian standards. The fridge is full of stuff we don’t eat because my in-laws stocked it. I have million of things to do but no energy and no idea where to start. I’m sad. I don’t have a phone because it needs to be charged. I can’t find my many pairs of gloves. I feel clumsy and awkward in my winter clothes. I don’t have Canadian dollars, does anyone take pesos here?

Words in Spanish, Portuguese and more strangely Mandarin—I’ve just seen my in-laws—come to mind randomly but somehow, I manage to express myself in English—I think.

I’m not even comfortably jet lag-spacey because there’s only an hour difference between Santiago and Ottawa.

The coffee isn’t helping.

I head home.

I have to start somewhere and I should probably multitask for maximum efficiency. Laundry. I should start with laundry. I can tackle another task while the washing machine and the dryer are running. Doing loads of laundry is the most rewarding chore ever. All you have to do is dump dirty clothes into the washer, add detergent, press a button and walk away feeling like a domestic goddess.

Crap. I have to unpack to find dirty clothes. I ran out of detergent. Where is the laundry basket?

Never mind, I’ll just open the mail. Nothing says “welcome back” like a lovely stack of mail waiting to be read. Oh, I have to renew my health card! Wow, five credit card offers, really? One cheque from a client, cool. Okay, how do I renew my health card? Wait—do I really want to do this today? Yeah… no.

The stack of unopened mail turns into a stack of opened mail.

What’s next?

Mark is busy rediscovering his toys. I envy him. I didn’t miss anything special in Canada. I could claim I missed my friends but I don’t hang out regularly with anyone, it can be weeks or months between our coffee dates. I didn’t miss working because I completed assignments while travelling. I didn’t miss the house we live in. I didn’t miss winter. I… huh… I ran out of my fancy face wash I can only buy in North America. Yes, that’s what I missed. Lame.

I came back because I had to, not because I wanted to.

A little part of me still believes that if I try hard enough, Canada is the place to be for dreams to come true.

I’ll bite. I’ll give it another shot.

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