Friday, December 26, 2008

Home, Sweet Home

Or should I say "Snow, Sweet Snow" ? I've been in the US for a little over 8 months now, the longest I've ever been away from home. I knew I was homesick, I just hadn't realized how badly until I got to the Dulles Airport in DC and heard some of my fellow Quebecers speaking French while waiting for boarding. That gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling. But I got griefed a couple times on my way home...

It started great with Mesanna and her hubby Michael dropping my Canuck toosh at the airport. So I strut my stuff to the check in counter to have the agent tell me it's going to cost me an extra $100 for my 3rd bag. I'm like wtf? I originally packed 2 bags but Mom warned me the previous night to bring boots and coats because they were getting pummeled with snow and cold weather. My winter coat being Siberian weather proof is quite large and heavy. The coat and boots took a whole 3rd bag on their own. I give the agent my debit card, mumbling the whole time through. Then I go "Hey!! Wouldn't that qualify as a hand bag? It's not too big is it?" He looked at the (fairly big) duffel bag that contained my coat and boots and says "Yeah, that could be considered hand bag." I "yoinked" my debit card back with a big fat grin for saving that bit of cash. He told me that if I had been travelling beyond Montreal with a 3rd bag, Air Canada would have charged me $240 extra! You can be sure next time I'll make sure to verify how many bags I'm allowed!

So after a very annoying and insanely long wait in line to get searched, scanned and w/e the heck it is that they do, I finally get to my gate and start reading Shaman's Crossing while waiting for my flight. I had been meaning to read that trilogy forever but never seemed to have time anymore. I could hardly concentrate because I was getting all fuzzy listening to other Quebecers waiting. But that fuzzy feeling got crushed within seconds as I realized they were all talking about their flights being cancelled because of bad snow storms. Then listening to the anglophones (not sure if they were Americans or English Canadians), their flights too were cancelled. The incredibly long line of people I had seen standing on my way in weren't people lining up to board. They were waiting for customer service, hoping to find a new flight home. Thankfully, my moment of panic was short lived as my own flight was one of the few that had been spared. It was only delayed by an hour!

When the plane was flying over the Dorval Airport in Montreal, I could see the straight lines of lights outlining the streets and the white blanket of snow that covered the ground as far as the eye could see. I got all misty and felt my throat tighten. I never thought I could be such a girly girl. The flight attendant warned us that it was snowy, slippery and cold (-16 C) outside so to be careful. I was curious to see how I would react to the snow and cold not having been eased into it this year as barely 2 hours ago I was enjoying +12 C in Washington DC. Turns out you don't shed out of your system 30+ years of good old Canadian cold that easily. Not only did the cold not bother me, it actually made me all giddy. I loved the sounds of the snow crunching under each step and how my feet just naturally knew where to land to best avoid the slippery ice.

The one thing I didn't remember fondly is on our way home, some of the areas were still burried in snow, the roads a pain to travel through. I've been here a week and every other day we've had over a foot of snow fall, which in fact translates as 2-3 feet of snow to shovel. I would have been miserable without a white Christmas but I could have done without the shovelling :/

But aside from the pains of winter, it was great seeing again such things as a tot being pulled on his sleight by his mom on the sidewalk, our beautiful snow covered parks and just the general beauty of our old stone and brick buildings, which there seems to be so few of in Virginia.

I'm also sad I will be missing all the cool festivals that will be taking place over the next couple of months in Montreal and Quebec City. I was always a big fan of the Ice and Snow sculpting which can be seen at the FĂȘtes de Neiges of Montreal and the Quebec Winter Carnival. Montreal in Lights is another beautiful event where they play with lights and snow and ice to give the city an eery look at night.

In one week, I'll be returning (home?) to VA. It's weird how you can quickly become lost in where's home. On my way here, while filling the declaration form, my instinctive reaction was to write my Montreal address. But that no longer is my permanent address. I did my Christmas shopping in Montreal to avoid the tax headaches at Customs, and every time I showed my Bank of America card to pay, the cashiers would automatically switch to (often broken) English. And even though I would keep speaking French to them, they stuck to English. They assumed I was American and took pride in serving their customers in their native tongue. Trouble is, I was starved for French but didn't have the heart to tell them to speak to me in French or they might take it as a rebuke of their language skills and I wasn't going to go in a story of my life to explain how it came to be that I pay in US dollars.

Part of me is looking forward to be back in my own things and (in a sick kind of way) to be back to work. They always said it takes a sucker for punishment to go into game design, I guess I fit the profile! But part of me feels like I've finally come home from a long trip and the thought of leaving again and especially parting from my family, knowing it will be many more months before I see them again really sucks.

For now, I won't dwell on it. I'm off to Mount Royal to do some skating. With luck, I'll get to do some skiing too, some snow angels and maybe even get away with ganking my brothers with snow balls!

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