A week has passed since I last wrote about the world at large, but that is how it goes when a person tries to take a little time to recover and reflect. Coming home was not the easiest – Air Canada’s plane was broken, so we had to wait 3 1/2 hours extra in the Montreal Maple Leaf Lounge and an hour on the main floor when they closed. Total time in the airport: 6 hours.
V. and I were looking forward to a relaxed vacation without the real need to drag ourselves out of bed. Let’s be honest; living in big city like Toronto takes a huge toll on a human’s spirit and sense of values, and escaping to a small island like Prince Edward Island has a way of refocusing our internal clocks to normal. Certainly, there are drawbacks to the small towns of Atlantic Canada [no jobs, closed minds, low literacy, terrible shopping and heavy foods], but they are places where refuge can be found from the stress, speed, pressures to be perfect and obsession over details that are rampant in the urban centres.
Christmas on Prince Edward Island was white and puffy, as the snow started just after our arrival. I do not think that it will last for the whole visit, but it was a rare treat to have a white Christmas. Returning home (or any place that I have lived) is always a strange experience; I have lived away for about 15 years and accomplished an unbelievable amount of things and travelled far and wide, but when I come home I am returned to the exact point of experience when I left at age 23. I have learned to accept this quirky behaviour, as that is just how it goes.
We spent much of our time at home or visiting with friends and family that I seldom have the opportunity to see. On one occasion we opened presents with my godmother, Mary, while munching traditional poti [an Acadian pork pie made for Christmas morning]. On another I was able to offer a nice meal to my Great Aunts – Judy, Mary and Myrna – that consisted of mussel and haddock chowder, frittata, creme brulee with passion fruit semi-freddo and bacon cheddar toasts made with local Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. Spending time with them made the journey home well worth the time and effort.
The actual presents I received this year were all wonderful and well-made. I received a few vintage books on film photography, an Americo alpaca blanket, a wool sweater from L.L. Bean, a Polo shirt, a Valentino tie and two safety razors – one modern Edwin Jagger and one vintage Gillette from the 1960s. I love the razors and the creams that came with them. While I adore the straight razor I now use, there are so many times with I need a simpler shave. I am sick and tired of paying upwards of $30 for Gillette cartridges that do not last, nor provide an authentically close shave. With the straight razor, I now have a tool for touch-ups and that lessens the financial burden by half. Plus, I just like the cachet of understanding and appreciating the art of wet shaving in an age where so few men do.
The real challenge of Christmas is to not buy or receive junk. The modern man fills his house with useless bric a brac that clutters what is important by obscuring it with the consumerism needed to make capitalism function. I did well this year to avoid the unnecessary. The world economy has really weighed down on this year’s holidays. While not terribly affected myself, knock on wood, I can see from the way merchants’ have taken in little or no stock for the shelves and the empty-handedness of shoppers that money was just not in the coffers or in the margins of credit cards this season. For my own part I was very happen to receive a few quality items that will comfort me for my life, rather than a pile of flashy stuff and things. I hope the rest of the world follows suite and begins to consider the value of materials.
We made it to two wonderful hot yoga classes at Moksha Yoga in Charlottetown before I contracted a wicked bout of the flu. Both my mom and I were less than healthy for a few days – I still feel pretty rough with just three days left on the Island. I am hoping to get to yoga tomorrow, but if not, then maybe I can at least go for a walk through the town with my camera.
The New Year and 2012 is upon us, and I still feel discombobulated from 2011. I still need to consider what I want to accomplish next, what great adventures are in store and what my next steps will be towards an even better tomorrow. I do feel like I am making headway in the future by reconsidering my past and where I came from. Perhaps I had come home with the intense hope that I would indeed find it had changed enough for both V. and I to build a life here over the next few years? Perhaps I always come home expecting to be the prodigal son when, in fact, I am will always act too much like Prometheus to ever truly have a permanent place here again.
The rest of my week should find me back at writing, taking a few photographs on Prince Edward Island for my portfolio, and I might even get to see my old friend Porter one last time before I hop on the big plane to Toronto. I still have not had the luck to get Chinese Food at the Canton Cafe, and I feel like there is one last surprise here for me before I take my leave. Hard to say…but there’s no place like home.