Today is my last in Vancouver. I spent ten years here, remember vividly the first day my boyfriend and I pulled up in a Budget van, dusty from prairie dirt, the windshield littered with bugs who met their demise.

Aerial of Vancouver

Our friend, Alanna had secured a sprawling 2 bedroom apartment in Kitsilano close to UBC. The second my feet landed on the offensive, shag carpet, I detested it. Nothing was modern. We had walked into a seventies dayglo nightmare. For a price tag of $1,300, it was less than impressive.

With lack of a bed, we had to camp out on the floor of our bedroom. I clung to my boyfriend as the night crawled, crying and begging him to take me home. But we stayed.

As that memory dissipates, I question the concept of home. What is it? Where is it? Will I find it?

Over ten years I changed jobs, left the boyfriend, sowed my wild oats, and forged life long friendships. I will miss that unique scent of Vancouver whenever I exit a plane – a mingling of rainforest and sea tickling my nose. I will miss the summer days and nights, how the blue sky stretches into infinity, the endless sunsets dipping into English Bay. I will miss the bustle of Granville on a Saturday night, even those pent up Surrey boys seeking trouble and long legs.

It was a rocky, euphoric ride, Vancouver. I thank you for giving me space and time to grow up — just be.

Here I stand, at the cusp of a round the world trip, one potentially rife with challenges. But I will also find bliss, delight and wonderment. Whatever occurs, travel will change me forever. It will force me to slow down, take the long way, avoid the shortcuts.

Imagine who we were as children. Any time that backpack is strapped to me, I revert to ten years old.  Children have this capacity to absorb and not judge. I take in events, leaving those adult filters behind. A person says a nasty comment, I walk away. And when something fantastic happens, I squeal with joy and engage, like a curious, precocious girl does.

So I brim with excitement, partially some relief. My psyche can finally breathe after spending the past month and a half relieving myself of stuff and psychological burdens.

Tonight, I say goodbye. Gather all my precious friends, encircle them, and thank them for teaching me and being my mates. Any excuse for a party.

The big wide plains of Calgary

Where am I next? June 5th (tomorrow) I fly to Calgary with cat in tow, grateful to spend time with my brother and mother. I’m discovering the cross-Canada leg is turning into a series of personal pilgrimages.

After brother and mother, it could be ex-boyfriend in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan. Even though most of you voted “no” to that. I have to do it, sorry. I’ve contacted old friends, and hope to meet up with new friends along the way. “New”, meaning my travel buddies who’ve followed along these past 6  months.

Expect more How To articles, and yes, I’ll finally finish the Unplugging series. I promised Simon and Erin of Never Ending Voyage that I would. Most importantly, watch for more personal impressions and travel stories. I could bare all, you’re forewarned.

Until Calgary, adieu and bon voyage!

Photos: leojmelsrub and Danny Nicholson