A New Life begins in Canada

May 9th, 2017

CanadaTravel Writing Award

A New Life begins in Canada

This story starts with a hospital bed. A cold and lonely night. A lost soul without direction. Asleep at the wheel, likely dreaming of a better life, one he could hardly have imagined. He screamed. Flailed. Desperately waved for help. The cars barely slowed as they rolled by. It was July 1st, 2006, the first day of the rest of my new life.

I grew up in a small town in Northern Canada, in the great expanse of sameness that is the Canadian prairies. Identical wheat towns stretch in every direction for over a thousand miles. The same signs, same brands, same food. Big trucks, oil money, and blue-collar hockey loving patriots. It’s like a frozen version of Texas.

Love first arrived in the form of an atlas. I compared the vibrant colors to the cold, grayish winter haze, the rich, festive cultures, to my seemingly commonplace surroundings. It wasn’t long before I memorized all the names within those glossy pages. I could almost hear the chime of the prayer bells echoing through the crisp Himalayan dawn. I counted the days until I was grown enough to join the open road, assuming that it would greet me as if I had always belonged.

I dreamed. I Wished. I waited.

My nineteenth birthday was spent in a Red Robins in a Vancouver, twentieth working on an oil rig close to my home town, twenty-first was similar to the last. Nothing changed, time just kept pressing forward. I was stuck in a cycle, rolling over and over, drowning in the wash, occasionally peering out through the glass door of the machine at the world beyond, as if it was another universe entirely. The same rhythms, the same habits, the same people, the same downward, uncontrollable spiral.  Nothing new.

But then one day it happened.

The best day of my life was the day I woke up on that hospital bed. “You dozed off” she said, “You’re lucky to be alive!” The nurse stares at me with her comforting, sulky eyes. I remember wondering how many many hard nights they had seen. Deep lines of doubt and exhaustion have had their way with her young face. This was a new life, surely, and she was the first new person in it.

I bounced back fast. The wind pushed hard at my back. All those old attachments and excuses were gone. A tide began to rage inside of me. A vision started to form. I felt powerful. I felt exuberant. My mind became impregnated with the most powerful thing: a dream!

I dreamed of Africa. I dreamed of walking the dry savanna with all the strange and wonderful creatures. I dreamed of the Karakoram, the dark and brooding mountains where I was the strangest thing and the people invited me in for apricot cake and sweet chai tea. I dreamed of the towers of Ha Long Bay, hopelessly shrouded in mists. I dreamed of Istanbul where you can stand in Europe and stare across the Bosphorus towards Asia while pondering countless realities–Byzantium, Constantinople, the Ottomans.

Today I live in Catalunya. People wave blue, red and yellow flags with white stars as they cry for independence. We eat toast with oil and tomato in the morning. They say “merci” instead of “gracias”, and “parle” instead of “hablo”. The people love to walk, and the cities are made for walking. They are not “Spanish” they say, but “Catalan”. It makes me wonder, now, what am I?

I miss my home. The sound of country music coming from the kitchen radio, dinner will be ready soon. The dogs are on the back porch barking at butterflies. The summer sun goes down at eleven, and comes up again at four. I miss how it races across the prairies, with nothing in its way, save a few rickety wooden grain towers that are slowly turning pink. I miss the “big sky” as people like to say, and the blazing colors of autumn, dancing like wildfire in the wind. Most of all, I miss my mother, her incredible wisdom and guidance.

To me, these things are exotic now. I compare the old, faded family photographs, to my seemingly commonplace surroundings. A small desk where I do my writing, pushed against the brick wall, a doormat underneath that says “welcome” keeps my feet warmer than the bare hardwood. A coffee mug that I stole from a friends house in Berlin stains all my pages with rings darker than the ones under my eyes. The faces of my family comfort me, I imagine them saying “it’s OK, we understand”.

Travel did change my life. The road never greeted me as I thought it would, but slowly over time, I became one of its own, a person shaped by its reality. Never certain, always searching.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the  Inspiration 2017 Travel Writing Award and tell your story.

5 responses to “A New Life begins in Canada

  1. Congrats on your 1st place award in this travel writing opportunity. I have read some of your blogs and noted that you could write!
    Your entry here beautiful. It moves forward with the cadence and flow of a good poem saying just enough to tell your story and inspire the reader. Well done Jase!

  2. Wow truly incredible and touching words. I am not an emotional soul. But this brought tears of both sadness and joy all at once. I could even relate to some of what I read. You words and incredible and inspiring. Thanks you so much for writing This, for being You, for being in our lives and allowing us all to experience your life’s journey through your amazing photos you always share. You an amazing individual. Congrats on the 1st place win. Wishing you always the best. Beck

  3. Hi Jase; Congratulations! Expect to see more well written travel articles and there is probably a first book in you bubbling away.
    I just finished the book “The Journey In Between”, a thru hiking adventure story on Election Camino del Satiago by Keith Foskett.
    I thoroughly enjoyed it and if I remember correctly I believe it was his first book. Go for it.

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