Thursday, 17 January 2013

I wish I was homeward bound

It looks pretty, but brrrr....
You can't go home again, especially when it is -28C and you left +28C, but somehow I managed to live to tell.

The trek to Canada was easy once I got out of the Denver airport; just hop on a plane the size of a Tonka truck, slouch as you squeeze through the aisle because you are too tall and two hours later, land in snow-covered Regina.

The only snafu was the 45 minute wait on the runway in Saskatchewan because they have one ground crew, who seemed to be busy with another plane that landed earlier. Dear god, where have I landed? Oh yes, and of course, the snafu in Denver where five agents had difficulty finding my reservation and my spinning head and frothing mouth, telling them I had a confirmation, I was getting on the plane, even if that meant sitting on the pilot's lap and helping him land the aircraft.

I surprised them all
Only one person knew I was coming to Canada and that was my daughter. She was my partner in crime, telling white lies to everyone we spoke to for eight months. Both of us nearly spilled the beans so often but somehow we managed to keep mum on the plans to give my son, family and friends a huge surprise.  We made up so many stories that by the end, we couldn't keep straight what we told people. I managed to block FaceBook so my immediate family had no clue I had arrived; the beauty of technology.

When I finally got off the plane, I raced down the gangplank, knocking over moms with strollers and one man taking his sweet time with a white cane. I raced up to Immigration barely able to answer the questions about where I lived, where I had been and when I was I last in Canada. I couldn't concentrate on what she was saying, but when I tried to answer where I had been, I said, "Lady, you don't have enough time to hear my story. My kids are out there and I haven't laid eyes on them for over a year, just let me go.  No fags, no booze, just a bunch of cheap souvenir crap from Southeast Asia." Miraculously, she said, "Welcome home."

I was shaking when I found my funky pink luggage and wheeled it from the protected area.  I heard a scream that would shatter glass and was hit with a blond bombshell, yelling, "MOMMY." Luckily my daughter is petite or she would have sent me flying. She was hugging me, crying and getting mascara all over R2's huge coat that I wore; I barely saw my son who was shocked and grinning from ear to ear with his beautiful smile. Everyone at the luggage area was laughing and pointing at the tearful reunion of these three crazy people.

Our Road Warrior - Ed
We were fortunate to have the help of a wonderful friend and man I worked with. He had no clue what was going on, but had volunteered to help make this reunion happen even though we had told him fibs and fabrications to get him to the airport. He drove us 60 km to my parents’ home through blustery conditions to give my parents the shock of their lives. My children went in to greet their grandparents and I hid in the Jeep. Finally I emerged from the vehicle with my hood up.  When my dad turned around, I took off the hood and said, "Merry Christmas, dad." My father talks more than I do but for once in his life he was speechless. My mother saw me from inside the house and screamed my name. Yup, the plan worked as orchestrated.

The Great Mitten Swap Tradition
Christmas held the same traditions; the cabbage rolls, the games cheating, the great knitting swap of mittens made by my mom, and of course, the annual photo of overstuffed grandchildren who are now too big to make the pyramid pose. We Skyped R2 but he was knackered from a ten hour delay in Beijing so we only saw him for a moment. It was a great Christmas even though I only had a few gifts to give from the various countries due to weight restrictions on the planes. My daughter said "We don't need any presents mom, your being here was enough." We can all thank my thoughtful husband. He is generous to give me up almost every year since we have been married so I can see my family, while he spends Christmas in a cold, lonely airport, drinking stale coffee and eating greasy food at the nearest food kiosk. I pinkie swore to him that next year, it is all about him.

Seeing my dear friend CLW
I can't say I loved the frigid weather, I got a cold almost immediately, but I was pleased to spend quality time with friends, old and new. I saw people I hadn't seen in yonks, I met some new people that I hope remain friends for a lifetime, I chatted with people that follow my blog and asked when the travel book was coming. My Singapore people ask me that all of the time but they are friends and have to ask that question.  When it is a perfect stranger, it gives me the courage to contemplate the thought. I know there is a book somewhere, even if it is only for me, I believe I have it in me.

While Saskatchewan is my home, I know I don't belong here anymore. Every time I ventured to Regina to visit, I was smacked with a white-knuckled drive back. I drove through fog, mist, rain and white outs. I can't bare the cold and I now dress like a hippie, European in a multitude of layers. That look is wonderful for the girls in Spain but on me, it just adds to the "Singapore Fat Western Woman" look.

Goodbye GPA - tearful goodbye
Our time in Asia is on the countdown now because we are in Year Two. We are homeless people with no possessions with the exception of my bike, my ten foot palm tree and a bunch of hangers I will never give up. We are nomads up for the offering. The older I get, the more Mexico is beckoning us to return and live a simple life. For a fraction of what we pay in Singapore, we could live like Kings in Mexico and this thought truly appeals to me; no work and be the Princess I have always envisioned myself.  

GMAs are the best
Thank you to the friendly people of Moose Jaw who follow me, thank you to the lovely Japanese waitress I met in DK Sushi House who reminded me of home, thank you to McNally’s for a $28 round of drinks, instead of $200 in Singapore, thank you to my co-workers from Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure that made me emotional when so many of you showed to greet me, thank you to Rikki and Lucas who made Christmas extra special, being the amazing adults you have grown into and mostly, thank you to Herman and Gerry Segall who put up with my slovenly ways, my late nights, and giving me their brand new car to bomb around, when I can barely remember what side of the road you should drive.

Happy New Year Canada.


  1. It was great to see you, Layna

    1. Thank you, and it was great to see so many frozen, smiling faces.

  2. What a wonderful account of your Christmas journey! I'm impressed that you and Rikki managed to pull off the undercover adventure

    1. Thank you for reading and enjoying. I am astounded that Rikki and I were able to keep our mouthes closed for so long as well! Not the best secret keepers around.

  3. And that is what Christmas is all about!! love your Holiday surprise Layna! LM

    1. Thank you - a once in a lifetime deal - next year I want to kidnap my kids to Mexico or somewhere warmish (but not singapore - too hot at Christmas).

  4. I love the pics of the kids and the homecoming descriptions, especially the scene at the airport. Great surprise! - KL

    1. Thank you for reading and enjoying. My back is still recovering from the blond bombshell hurtling herself into my arms. Note to self; take up weights again!