International Summer Tour 2017
Next Stop: Home Part #1 (Canada)
Destination: Find Darah and Dave
Good afternoon readers, I hope you are enjoying a fall afternoon as relaxing as an athlete in the off-season.
The next stop on the International Summer Tour flew me over the Atlantic and back to my home country, Canada! After a day and half (give or take) of travel, I finally landed on Canadian soil! The saying, “There’s no place like home” is 100% true. The first taste of being home was landing in Toronto, Ontario seeing Canadian currency, staff speaking English, and nearly everyone on their phones with a Tim’s coffee cup in hand. As much as I had hoped to enjoy the moment of being home, I was more focused on arriving at my final stop for the day, because nothing was more important than getting there. Why? you might ask, because I was about to spend three and a half days with my best friend Darah, and her fiancé Dave in either Barrie, Collingwood, or Wasaga Beach. I have never travelled Ontario and these three places seemed interchangeable to me. When I landed I knew I had to get to Barrie and was being picked up by Darah. Anything beyond that did not matter, because we would finally be reunited! I could barely contain my excitement because after five years of living provinces apart we were finally about to spend more than a few hours in passing through to catch up.
The problem is, this was the first time I was about to experience Toronto beyond the Pearson airport. The three cities were all just names on a map and I was about to navigate them all without any preparation. The extra hitch that gave me a sick feeling to my stomach was reading a text from Darah when I got off the plane, I just got in a car accident. Immediately my reaction was Oh my God, I hope she’s okay! But she sent me a text so she can’t be too bad! What happened! What’s the fastest way I can get to her!? Chill out. Breathe. From then on, my focus was be calm, rushing won’t help, get to Barrie, and from Barrie figure it out. Keep breathing. Once I navigated the Pearson terminals and found my way out on the UP Train I received new information, the accident was a fender bender where one-year-old-Wilson Ford had his back end smashed in pretty good. Darah was okay, and she was still coming to get me! Phew! Crisis averted.
Once the relief of the accident had sunk in, I will admit I felt pretty cool taking the UP train through Toronto. So this is Big-City life? I found myself pretending I was from the area, and what wondering what my life might have been like growing up in a Big City. Once I arrived at the Union Station I managed to board the correct GoTrain to Barrie and realized how much time the public spends commuting in transit. Everyone seemed to know they were going without even lifting an eye from their screen. Even on the train, there was no talking, just dead focus on the screens ahead- I opted for a nap because I still didn’t know what day or time it really was. When I reached the end of the line I also didn’t know which stop I was supposed to get off at once I arrived in Barrie. I was lucky the Travel Gods were in a good mood because by default I got off at the last stop (or the end of the line) and it was the one Darah was waiting at. I felt like a child receiving a puppy for Christmas, I was giddy to finally see my best friend!
Between sorting out how to move forward with the accident, learning how life was as soon-to be Optometrists, beach days, ice cream dates (Thanks Paul!!), jogs along the water, wedding planning, and endless other ventures, I am so proud of the life Darah and Dave have built for themselves. In high school Darah told me she was going to be an optometrist and now she is doing exactly what she set out to do. I felt so happy to catch a glimpse at the life they have built for themselves! In lieu of wedding plans one of the best conclusions I came to was seeing first hand (in their natural habitat of Ontario) that the Darah & Dave combo is real, genuine, and full of so much love. I couldn’t wish for a better guy to sweep my bestie off her feet and I can’t wait to say the Kwolek’s are my best friends and know it includes both of them. July 2018, don’t worry I’ve saved the date!
I’d love to share all the awesome things I did while I visited, but the most important part of my visit was appreciating the idea of coming home. Yes, I was in my home country, and they had a new condo which was Darah and Dave’s home, but the moment I first felt truly at home was when I hugged Darah at the train station and knew she was okay. The second time was when Dave returned from work and I could give him a big hug too. It happened to be the three of us were in their house, but what made it a home was having us together. Darah has put this idea to much more beautiful words than I can, but the quote, “Home becomes a person instead of a place” was truly encompassed throughout my visit. The warmth, love, and genuine happiness I felt visiting their home, made any and all of the travel hiccups or getting caught biking in a torrential downpour worth it.
For future reference for either myself or you the readers, I also learned to differentiate Wasaga, Barrie, and Collingwood. I learned Barrie is the town at the end of the train station. Collingwood is a touristy Harbour town, with some amazing, cozy coffee shops. Finally, Wasaga Beach is a laid back beach town (with occasional school-kid parties) along Lake Huron with beautiful sand, water, and sunsets. When I have more time there are a ton of trails in Collingwood that I can’t wait to go explore, both by bike and running! Don’t worry Dave and Darah, you’ve set the bait! I will back soon!
With my heart warm and my toes dipped in freshwater lakes again, it is time to carry on the nostalgia of home. Stay tuned for the ultimate homecoming, Destination: YQR.